If you thought innovation had disappeared from the massively
multiplayer online game (MMOG) industry then it may be time to
rejoice. The gaming industry is abuzz
over the latest announcement from Apple, a company not known for its
Sony is not
happy that Apple is entering the MMOG market.
iMO, presumably standing for Massively Online with the iconic Apple
“i” stuck in front for good measure is Steve Jobs
first foray into the world of massively multiplayer online games.
The Cult of Apple
“We’re reinventing the way that people play
MMOGs” chanted Jobs to the more than 25,000 Mac fanatics,
many of whom had camped out for nights in front of the Moscone Center
in San Francisco to hear their technology idol speak.
As the crowd cheered Mr. Jobs suddenly and without explanation threw
his arms in the air, tilted his head back and began to chant,
“Fire Wire! Fire Wire!” The vast majority of the
crowd joined in until Jobs quieted them by pointing to the enormous LCD
screen behind the stage on which the letters, “iMO”
slowly appeared upon an image of the Apple logo.
It is unclear to this reporter what fire wire has to do with a
massively multiplayer game, but I can report that the chanting
attendees became almost like zombies. I expected the next
chant to be “Mooore Braaains” or “We love
If the crowd was unusual the game if you can call it that, was even
more so. Apple’s iMO will be unlike any MMOG to
come to market to date. Most MMOGs are
purchased and then played on one ore more hardware platforms.
iMO comes as one proprietary package including both the software and
Appearing to be essentially a MacBook Pro with the useful parts taken
out, iMO will include “a shiny aluminum case housing a
17” Apple Cinema Display, a 15” trackpad, an iMO
webcam, an iMO microphone and an Ethernet port for Internet
When asked why Wi-Fi and a keyboard were not part of the product Jobs
replied, “An Airport addon card is only $499.00 for those
that want to use Wi-Fi. A keyboard can also be
added, though we don’t have pricing yet. Besides,
what would you use a keyboard for? Have you seen that
freaking huge 15” trackpad?”
The trackpad, which for all intents and purposes attempts to replace
the keyboard, offers all of the gesture capabilities of the iPhone and
iPod Touch. Pinching your fingers together zooms
your view out. Quickly moving your fingers over the trackpad
scrolls your view. Perhaps the most unusual gesture
is the “running” gesture in which you place two
fingers on the trackpad and pretend to run. This
causes your virtual character to run through the iMO
world. Targeting is a simple, or
difficult, as tapping the appropriate section of the trackpad that
corresponds to the screen.
We asked an Apple representative why the trackpad was chosen rather
than a touchscreen like like the iPhone or iPod Touch.
silly question, the screen stands vertically. Who
would want to run their fingers uphill all the time?
At this point in the presentation we were nearly stampeded over as
onlookers rushed the stage to watch an iMO being taken out of its
box. The Apple “unboxing” process, much
like the fire wire chant is part of some strange, almost cult-like
experience that comes with each and every Apple product.
Four scantily clad women wearing little more than white gloves and
bikinis with the letters iMO silk screened on their bottoms paraded
onto the stage. While they caressed and
fondled a black iMO box Jobs looked to the side-stage, gestured and to
the surprise of the audience, magician David Copperfield
appeared. A bow, a twist of his wrist and
the iMO levitated out of the shining black box before the stunned and
now cheering crowd.
Mr. Copperfield proceeded to pass four hula-hoops around the floating
iMO to show that there were no strings before handing them to the
bikini clad women who promptly spun them around their waists in a
The iMO is scheduled for release in Q9 2009 at a price of
$2,995. The monthly subscription fee will be $60 and will
include a membership to the iMO website where players will be able to
interact with one another for an additional
fee. Addons will be available via the
Apple App Store and iTunes.
The title will ship without sound, but all tracks, music, environmental
and ambient sounds will be available via iTunes for $0.99
each. DRM free sounds will cost
Players who aren’t ready for the full iMO experience will
have the option of the iMO Shuffle, which will choose the
character’s class, race, appearance, etc. for them or the iMO
Nano which will allow only one character per account and will be
10” in size. The iMO Nano will be
available in 12 different colours.
It wouldn’t be an Apple product without a catchy tagline,
“Remember iMO gives you iMOre.”
I can’t wait to see the television commercials that they come
up with for this product. “Hi,
I’m a MMOG. And, I’m an
Stay tuned for more on this story as it becomes available.