Michael Pachter is probably the most visible gaming industry analyst out there -- while he's not always right about his predictions and insight on the video game industry, he does usually know what he's talking about, and he's definitely got the ear of a lot of investors. And so when he says that Apple is planning to turn the Apple TV into a game console, people listen.
In fact, that's exactly what he said on his online show last week -- he says that "by accident," Apple has "become a serious gaming company." Steve Jobs never really was interested in gaming, and yet, because the iPod touch has really jumped into gaming with the App Store (and the iPad will follow), Apple will go for games more and more as a way to sell their hardware. He also says the Apple TV will get hooked up to the App Store sooner or later, and that it probably won't be sold as a straight game console, but will eventually succeed as a "multi-use, multi-purpose device" that plays games.
Hardly an original idea, of course, but the rub here is that while lots of people have suggested Apple make a jump like this, the company itself hasn't been interested in doing so. Despite the App Store's success, Jobs still doesn't seem interested in games (the iPad is getting new iWork apps on day one, but all it gets officially for games is upscaling), and Apple has echoed the original idea of the TV as a "hobby." Hooking up the Apple TV to the App Store would be an interesting move, but I'm not convinced it's one Apple wants to make quite yet. Pachter says it'll happen as soon as 2012 -- we'll see.