Why, though? Apple’s too-expensive gaming console

Apple tried to get into gaming once. It was just too dang expensive.

Tomorrow, Apple will drop its long-anticipated Vision Pro, a spatial computing headset that starts at ~$3.5k.

A white video game console and controller.

For that amount of dough, we hope it doesn’t go the way of another Apple device: the Apple Pippin.

Apple’s great…

… at a lot of stuff, but it’s never quite broken into the $214B+ video game industry.

  • Macs weren’t designed for games, so studios didn’t develop for them, leaving little incentive for gaming enthusiasts to choose Apple.
  • As of January 2023, ~96% of Steam players gamed on Windows machines.

The Apple Pippin, released in 1996, was Apple’s attempt to get into console gaming, via a partnership with Japanese toymaker Bandai.

How it worked

Like other consoles, it plugged into a TV, but used a pared-down Apple operating system that made it significantly faster.

Much like the Vision Pro, Apple envisioned the Pippin as an everything machine, offering games, entertainment, and education. It could connect to the internet, support a keyboard and mouse, and came with a wireless controller, per TechRadar.

So why wasn’t it a hit?

Also much like the Vision Pro, it was significantly more expensive than its rivals; Pippin was ~$600 ($1.1k+ today), compared to Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, both ~$300.

Developers were also hesitant to sign on due to a lack of info from a short-staffed Apple team, resulting in only 25 released games and ~42k units sold.

In 1997, a returning Steve Jobs pulled the plug on all Macintosh clones — computers produced by other companies but running Apple software — including Pippin.

But today?

Apple’s spinning many of those same plates across Apple TV, Apple Arcade, macOS Sonoma’s Game Porting Toolkit, and, of course, the Vision Pro.

And consumers may be ready for it this time, with 200k+ Vision Pros sold in the first 10 days of preorders. We’ll find out in the coming weeks.

Topics: Why Though

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.