Opinion: Apple Plays the Console Game

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Apple is taking over the games market. One day soon your iPad will be a full replacement for your Xbox, Wii or PlayStation. It will run the latest games, the latest technologies and its processor will possess enough grunt to match any gaming console out there.

Think about it. Apple's already selling millions of games each month via the App Store, where games are the biggest-selling category.

Look at the craze for Angry Birds at the moment. There's already talk of a movie and the game is the both the top-grossing iPhone and iPad gaming title. This one title has racked up over 10 million paid downloads on the iPhone so far -- that's success, right?

Look at the other titles in there: Scrabble, Reckless Racing, Restaurant Story and more. What you'll see is that when it comes to games Apple is offering the full range: from casual to traditional; from action to adventure and more.

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Some of the most advanced (and expensive) games hint at the kind of power you'll see in future titles, as new games engines appear for the platform, (Unreal is on its way).

What we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple is already developing iPad 2.0. This will host a faster processor, will maintain the as-yet unintroduced AirPlay support and offer much, much more.

That faster processor, and further improvements in the hardware and system level support and developer implementation of ever-more sophisticated graphic technologies will open new vistas for gaming on Apple's platform.

In time it's likely we'll see some impact from this as some games migrate from iOS to the Mac via Apple's Mac App Store. Apple will become a pre-eminent gaming company.

Think too about Apple's GameCenter. The social gaming network lets you play games against friends and strangers, offers online leaderboards, matchmaking and more. We learn today that Apple has begun approving a range of titles which support GameCenter, as it prepares the ground for the release of iOS 4.2.

Here's the future scenario, a lot of which is already here: You'll be in a bar with friends, you'll pull out your iPad and play a shared game of Monopoly. Each of your chums may have their money and property portfolios held privately on their own smartphone.

Perhaps you'll all play a racing game, with each vehicle controlled by each player's own phone, but visible on your iPad. That game already exists and is called PadRacer -- and is featured in this video.

When you get home, you'll hit the AirPlay button to play whatever your latest fast-paced action game might be, using your iPad as the controller but watching the action on your flatscreen TV, thanks to your Apple TV box.

After this you might watch a film or TV show downloaded from iTunes, Netflix or another source, or perhaps just bore yourself to sleep with broadcast TV. Maybe you'll make a FaceTime call.

This isn't a pipedream. This is what games industry insiders are whispering about.

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