The appointment of PR execs is not normally something to get mobile-watchers excited of a Monday morning. But when the company doing the hiring is Apple and the execs come from Nintendo and Activision, it’s well worth paying attention. So who is Apple employing and what has it got planned? And why is it making its move into more serious gaming territory now?
The new hires are Rob Saunders, who has just quit as Nintendo’s head of UK PR, and Nick Grange who used to be PR director at gaming giant Activision. The latter is behind some of the biggest franchises in recent years, including Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. Saunders will apparently work on apps across the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, while Grange will work specifically on the iPad.
These appointments, while yet to be rubber-stamped by Apple, are a massive, unequivocal statement of intent by Cupertino. iOS has become the dominant mobile gaming platform in recent years, as devs flock to the App Store. The likes of Angry Birds have become global cross-platform smashes after starting life on iOS. It’s all meant that rivals are left playing catch-up.
However, Android is certainly making strides, especially with the forthcoming PlayStation Suite software. This will bring Sony’s welter of games to Google’s mobile platform and will doubtless cause Apple to look long and hard at its strategy.
Apple has already done a fine job in promoting its iOS devices as gaming machines. But these appointments show that it’s gearing up for a much harder push.
The iPad is ace for gaming, but the OS as a whole could use some more hardcore and in-depth titles in order to convince dedicated handheld lovers that it’s worth plumping for an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad instead of a Nintendo 3DS or Sony NGP. The latter’s arrival later this year cannot be underestimated either. Apple will know that Sony’s new device will offer more in terms of hardcore gaming, so it will need to redouble its PR efforts in order to prove to punters why its devices are the smart choice.
Considering mobile gaming was regarded just a few short years ago as a niche concern, Apple’s decision to bring some big hitters on board shows just how far things have come. 2011 promises to be a great year for gaming on-the-go and the battle between the big players has barely begun.