The possibility for Apple to enter the games console market became more likely today, as Engadget has been tipped off to code in the new iOS 4.3 beta that makes references to gaming.
Several strings of code include the terms "ATVThunder" and "ATVGames", as well as "Controller", "Schedule" and "Standings". What these refer to is anyone's guess, but the mysterious Thunder service also comes up in a string as "play.live.thunder"
The informant mentioned the possibility of some sort of streaming games service, with OpenGL mature enough for this to be a possibility. Game streaming would fit into Apple's current strategy for the Apple TV, as the second-generation device only has 8GB of storage to keep costs down, instead encouraging users to treat the device as a streaming box.
Other discovered codenames included Sedona and Flagstaff, but little reference was made to these two. Sedona included hints at director, episode, and other common video attributes, while Flagstaff hinted at account types and merchants, but at this point the two are too vague to draw any real conclusion from.
Apple has a love-hate history with gaming, dating back to the original Macintosh, where higher-ups at Apple were reluctant to include games on a machine that was already seen as toy-like thanks to its graphical user interface. Valve has experienced issues trying to get Apple to comply with their requests in the past. In a 2007 interview, Gabe Newell said:
We tried to have a conversation with Apple for several years, and they never seemed to... well, we have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go "wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming". And then we'll say, "OK, here are three things you could do to make that better", and then they say OK, and then we never see them again
Last year, however, Valve finally brought their Steam platform to the Mac, with a pledge to release all new Valve games on the Mac. Apple has warmed to gaming in the mobile sector too, with iOS App Store games making up a large part of their marketing campaigns. With the introduction of Game Center in iOS and the Mac App Store with its dedicated game section, it's not too unrealistic to think that Apple is preparing to sink its teeth into the home console market.