My colleague Chris Kohler at Wired News has a thought-provoking piece on the iPhone’s potential as a games platform. Since the day Apple introduced it, I’ve been waiting for Apple to unleash multi-touch games, and many of Chris’ sources think that the impending release of Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch SDK might let that happen at long last:
Whether or not iPhone gets a gaming-centric redesign, the release of the SDK makes it all but certain that we’ll see some touchscreen games from the development community.
Ehrenberg sees iPhone games as a sort of warm-up for a dedicated gaming system to come later: “This could be a launching point to get people thinking: Apple, games, Apple, games. A device may well follow from that that’s more tailored to the gaming experience.”
What’s really interesting is that 2008 promises to be a huge battle in mobile gaming. Nokia has relaunched N-Gage as an Xbox Live-like social gaming service for its highest-end phones like the N82 and the impending N96. Samsung could easily go this direction in a heartbeat, and if Microsoft ever does make a ZunePhone (as Zune fans believe), you can bet that gaming would be a major component of it to leverage the Xbox brand. Can Apple get there first and best? Only time will tell.
One thing is certain, however. Analyst Roger Ehrenberg of Information Arbitrage could stand to do some more research on the screen resolution of most handheld game systems:
But if the iPhone and iPod Touch are going to be serious contenders for gamers’ attention, they’ll need a screen upgrade, in more ways than one. Ehrenberg says gamers will want a higher-res display: “Right now, the screens generally don’t have the clarity to get the most out of the videogame programming that exists today.”
Um…yeah. Here’s the thing. The Nintendo DS? Uses two screens, each at 256×192, which is a total of 98,304 pixels. The Sony PlayStation Portable? One screen at 480*272, which is 130,560 pixels. The iPhone? One screen at 480×320, or 153,600 pixels. It would be the highest-res gaming platform on the market, not the lowest. That said, maybe there’s a screen-refresh issue that I don’t know about that could make the iPhone weak for action games. It would surprise me, given how nice “Pirates of the Caribbean” looks on it, but one never knows.