Rumour Mill – Apple TV to be your next game console

It starts with Steam for Mac and Angry Birds taking its place in the gaming canon. Where next for Apple and games?

Let’s start with a confession: we’ve been thinking about Apple making a console for some time. Despite the long-running criticism that Macs are rubbish for gaming, it adds up. And the green shoots have begun to show.

Apple’s App Store lists a stupendous catalogue of games, even if most of them are aimed at casual commuter gamers, rather than “serious” gamers who think nothing of engaging in six-day online FPS campaigns.

But last year Steam for Mac launched and suggested the possibility that Apple Computer Inc could yet become a player in the games market. The company already sells music, TV shows, movies and books. Why not games?

So far, so speculative. And would Apple really venture so far as to build a dedicated console? Well, possibly. Or possibly it could evolve Apple TV to support gaming needs. Beta code in the forthcoming iOS 4.3 suggests Apple TV could become an online gaming platform.

For the time being, that would probably manifest itself in something as humdrum as Game Centre for iPhone and iPad. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and you can bet your bottom iTunes credit Apple will want a slice of the gaming market proper – a global industry that out-earns the combined efforts of the music and film businesses.

So, will Apple join the game? 2011 is the year we might find out.