Nintendo's Wii U could be undermined by Apple's assault on the living room, reckons Hogrocket's Peter Collier

AirPlay Mirroring a threat to console's social standing

Nintendo's Wii U could be undermined by Apple's assault on the living room, reckons Hogrocket's Peter Collier
If you're read any of our other iOS 5 developer interviews, chances are you've already made up your mind as to whether Apple's edge into the living room is likely to threaten the traditional home console model.

However, Peter Collier – formally of Bizarre Creations and now co-founder of Tiny Invaders developer Hogrocket – believes the extent of any future damage Apple may cause can be scaled down to one specific victim.

The most likely prey, in his view, is Nintendo's forthcoming tablet-esque Wii U.

We tackled Peter to find out why he thinks Apple's social assault – kickstarted with iOS 5 – can only be a good thing for developers looking to engage their audiences.

Pocket Gamer: The update to Game Center looks set to import more Xbox Live-style features. How do you think this will increase user engagement?

Peter Collier: The update allows for greater customisation and the ability to better connect with friends. I think this means players will care a lot more about their activity on the device, so that'll encourage more regular interaction with Game Center.

Being able to better project your identity to others will certainly increase engagement.

Secondly, Game Center has now almost reached feature parity with Xbox Live - leaderboards, achievements, friends lists, matchmaking - so it'll be interesting to see how, or indeed if, Microsoft responds to keep its offering ahead of the curve.

Finally the turn-based multiplayer support in Game Center is particularly exciting for me as an avid board gamer. Turn-based play is a key component of many board games so hopefully we'll see much greater activity in that area too.

How do you think its game recommendations will change the promotional opportunities open to you?

With more and more noise to cut through on the net and indeed the App Store, recommendations more attuned to your own sensibilities - whether its via friends or players similar to your tastes - are going to be a lot more meaningful to people.

This can only be a good thing from a developer perspective because games like Tiny Invaders are likely to land at the feet of more people interested in giving them a go.

Given AirPlay Mirroring requires Apple TV to function, do you see it playing a major role in releases on iOS 5, or is it a first step towards acclimatising iOS users to TV-based play?

I guess it depends entirely on the rate of uptake of Apple TV and how serious Apple is in making it more than a 'hobby' for them, by Cook's own admission.

I can certainly imagine the console manufacturers being even more wary of Apple thanks to this feature. It acts as a bit of a Trojan horse in the social space of the living room, and would represent a rather daring, and giant, land grab on behalf of Apple should the company decide to pursue it.

The potential of dual-display support in AirPlay, as demonstrated in games such as Real Racing 2, must certainly be cause for concern at Nintendo with the Wii U.

At least Microsoft and Sony have large, established online communities to fall back on with their console experiences.

Do you plan to work support for iCloud into past releases?

It's one of those features that we'll wonder how we managed without and quickly take for granted. What's interesting is, the fact it's even needed – that individuals have so many iOS devices - epitomises the success Apple has had.

From a developer perspective, it allows for gaming experiences to be less fragmented and fit into peoples lives much more seamlessly, so we'll be endeavouring to support it going forward.

Is there anything missing from iOS 5 from a game development perspective?

The evolution of the tools to make it quicker and easier for creatives to make content is a key one for me.

Democratising game development, as championed by the likes of Unity, is essential if want to continue to evolve further as an entertainment medium.

Apple has taken great strides with iOS 5. The further it transforms gaming on the device from a solitary experience to a more shared, open, expressive and socially engaged one, the more people will want to join in on the party.
Thanks to Peter for his time.

You can find out more about Hogrocket on the studio's website.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.