With the techie stuff out of the way, let’s get down to what we’re really all about: Games.
Where games are concerned, the iPhone is an interesting intersection between computers and mobile phones. The latter are generally saddled with a small screen, modest memory, so-so operating system and few interface options, but the iPhone exceeds the common mobile phone to the degree that it can actually sit side-by-side with genuine portable gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP (technology-wise). That the iPhone is game-ready really goes without saying: All the touchstones of a good game device are either already present in the iPhone or are easily adapted. For instance, the touch-screen can be configured by a game developer to offer any control setup required (so long as the gamer doesn’t mind lack of tactile feedback when using them), which vaults the iPhone ahead of typical mobile devices that are designed with a set configuration of keys… and not always in a very game-friendly manner. What’s more, the graphic power of OS X (which offers all sorts of sweet features such as PDF-style compositing and transparency) will make gaming on the iPhone a visual treat. Beyond mere technology, one of the most exciting benefits that the iPhone can bring to the mobile gaming space is the iTunes store, which will most certainly be Apple’s choice for selling iPhone software. Without re-stating an opinion that’s been voiced many times here at QuicklyBored, we will endeavor to say that getting away from carrier decks as the only option for mobile game purchases would definitely be a Good Thing.
The streets are not paved with gold, however: Despite all its promise, the iPhone will still be saddled with the ongoing stigma of mobile gaming where users may not even realize that games are even available, much less what’s worth paying for. The iPhone will probably inspire more users to get into gaming, the Motorola RAZR… but it’s still going to be an uphill battle for this device to find its place as a gaming solution unless Apple lets it be widely-known what it has up its sleeve. Where iPhone games are concerned, that hasn’t happened yet.
Due to lack of a clear gaming direction from Apple for the iPhone, most of what’s said on the subject is almost entirely hearsay. We know the elusive iPhone SDK (which is required for anyone who wants to create software for the iPhone) is now in the hands of gaming heavyweights such as Namco and Electronic Arts, so obviously someone in Cupertino is thinking about games. Even more interesting is the rumor that Apple and Nintendo are currently forging a deal to bring games to the iPhone, which would be sold over iTunes. Industry whisperings suggest that iPhone’s gaming interface may mimic the dual touch-screen of Nintendo’s portable DS game device and, of course, that would be the perfect accent for Nintendo’s sterling lineup of game franchises (which include Mario Brothers, Metroid, and the Star Wars license, to name a few). Apple would be hard-pressed to find better inspiration for how to make a touch-screen-based device into a gaming solution than the Nintendo DS. Though the iPhone does not exactly mimic the DS (due to lack of a D-Pad for one), the position-sensors and accelerometer could open up control possibilities which make for terrific games (let us not forget that Nintendo is also the currently the reigning kings of motion-sensing games, as their Wii console control system is almost entirely based around it).