What Does The New iPhone 5 and iPod touch Screen Mean For iOS Gaming? [Opinion]

What Does The New iPhone 5 and iPod touch Screen Mean For iOS Gaming? [Opinion]

Extra space for rear-view mirrors!

The iPhone 5 and the iPot touch both got a revamp today, as announced at the Yerba Buena center in San Francisco. They both have a new look and a new screen size. The 4 inch diagonal screen is at the same ratio of 16:9 as most HD movies, for one. But what about gaming? Everyone knows how great iOS is for gaming, right? What will the extra length bring to the party? Let’s take a look.

On the one hand, there will be more space on the new iPhone 5 screen. That in and of itself is a good thing for gaming. If nothing else, it gives developers an extra 176 pixels to put virtual buttons in, say, or show more of a playing field. Or, as in the example shown during the Apple keynote today, add rear view mirrors to the Real Racing 3 cars.

And what about developers from more traditional handheld gaming devices, like Sony’s PlayStation Vita? That device has a 5 inch screen, with a 16:9 ratio, making the possibility of moving from the Vita to iOS much more likely, barring any exclusivity or contractual obligations.

What Does The New iPhone 5 and iPod touch Screen Mean For iOS Gaming? [Opinion]

The downside of a new screen size is, of course, that developers have yet another screen size to deal with. While the transition from older iPhones including the 3GS, 4 and 4S to the newer iPhone 5 will most likely be quick, there will still be a ton of people playing on older devices. Especially, I’d venture to guess, kids who get the older phones as their parents upgrade. Kids drive a lot of game purchases in my household. This fragmentation of screen resolution and ratio has got to be a bit of a headache for developers.

All older games will run letterboxed, of course, but gamers are a fickle lot and will want their habit full-screen. How will Universal apps work, now? The iPad isn’t a 16:9 screen by any means, so how wil developers create a full screen experience on both devices? Do we now face a day when developers are essentially encouraged to create two different apps for iPad and the new iPhone? The reverse is also true – how will new iPhone 5 apps run on an iPad? Will they squish up or run letterboxed, like movies do on older TVs? Will they run at all? for games, this is a concern.

This all could have an effect on the development costs of said games, which then has an effect on the app consumer who owns both an iPad and a new iPhone. It’s a first-world problem, to be sure, but it’s there, nonetheless.

Bottom line, this will most likely be a blip in the overall awesomeness that is iOS gaming. I hope that Apple helps developers transition over to the new screen size, helping with the iPad/iPhone differential for Universal apps along the way.

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  • Tinny

    Still thinking… Why they didn’t just enlarged both sides on a 1024×768 resolution, mantaininf the classic iphone/ipad aspect ration and instantly making first and second generation ipad apps compatible with iphone5?

  • iPear

    Still thinking… Why they didn’t just enlarged both sides on a 1024×768 resolution, mantaininf the classic iphone/ipad aspect ration and instantly making first and second generation ipad apps compatible with iphone5?

    Because it would just look and feel like a Galaxy: Too big to hold and use it properly. They also made the screen taller to display more content at once, not to display it larger. Running iPad 1st and 2nd gen. apps on the iPhone doesn’t make sense because of the much smaller controls, thought to be displayed on a 9.7” screen. They would be too small on an iPhone.

  • Jonathan Ober

    How about this article just reads apps…because though games is a big market…apps are a headache to plan and create as well now that there are different ratios and screen sizes. **narrow-minded headline**

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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