There was some moaning when some forgettable instance claimed that Steve Jobs was the best ever that had happened to games ever. What about Shigeru Miyamoto, Gabe Newell or the best-selling console of all time, PlayStation 2? There weren’t even any games for the Mac, the neckbeards were screaming on the top of their keyboards.1 What did Jobs ever do to gamers? Nothing or even worse, as tales of how difficult it was to bring Steam to the Mac tell us. No support from the man in the round glasses, crappy graphics support and broken updates was all the they got. And this guy is the savior of gaming? Just how does that make any sense?
Simple, the iPhone made games available to everyone. And I mean everyone, Angry Birds has been downloaded more than 500 million times (across all platforms and all editions). This is an order of magnitude more than what games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (appx. 18 million copies) or Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (appx. 15 million copies) did on PlayStation 2. Sure, I’m comparing downloads to sales and actual Angry Birds sales are closer to 12 million but my point is about reach2.
But Angry Birds and Bejeweled are not even real games, the true gamers say in unison clutching their Battlefield 3 (10 million) and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (22 million) disc covers. And that’s just the thing. Jobs’ Apple didn’t do much for that crowd and even today you’ll get better performance by using Bootcamp and booting to a Windows partition to play than on Mac OS X.
According to VGChartz, the worldwide game sales for PlayStation 2 are/were 1,639 millions of units sold. For PlayStation 3, released in 2006, the figure stands at 519 million of games sold. For Apple, there’s practically no information available other than there are soon 25 milliard App Store downloads (since 2008). Assuming that just 10% of these are game downloads gives 2,500 millions of game downloads but considering that the Top Paid and Top Free apps categories are dominated by games, the true figure is probably a lot higher. True, as many of the downloads are free, a single iPhone probably carries more games than a single PlayStation but the point stands, the reach on mobile is entirely different thing than on consoles or PC.
It’s insane how Nokia and their Snake never could realize this potential.3
Apparently, Tetris has 100 million paid mobile downloads and Bejeweled has 25 million sold and 150 million downloads. However, Tetris was probably available to rotary phones, while Angry Birds’ sales are from iPhone and Android and from much shorter timespan. ↩
This is not to say that they didn’t try. Remember N-Gage? ↩