back to article Wanted: Creative spark for iPhone games

The phrase "recession proof" has been bandied about a lot lately to describe the games biz, as people seek their own entertainment at home rather than spending on the cinema or in restaurants. And in many ways, the games industry is thriving more than ever. In 2008, Americans spent more than $21bn on games, hardware, and …


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  1. Watashi

    Game plan

    It's true that a great proportion of iPhone games seem to be along the lines of guiding something along using the iPhone's tilt sensors. The rest are games that could have been played on the N64, or even the C64. The iPhone is just too limited a device to allow real innovation. The screen's too small and the interface is too limiting because it' requires you to touch the screen and so obscure the gameplay.

    These basic iPhones games will remain popular, but only as gimmicky time killers. If you want real games, you have to go down the DS route and get the iPhone some proper titles that cost proper money. But then you'll want a better interface, and you'll not want calls interrupting you when you're in the middle of battling the end of level boss. In other words, if you can afford an iPhone and want to play great portable games you might as well just buy a DS or PSP.

  2. John

    just wait for OS3.0!

    when the new hardware comes out with the new version of the OS, there will be even more developers.

    the deeper malaise is the pesky consumers. buy a cartridge in a shop and you don't so much mind spending £20. Download something for your phone and there's no physical product except the space in memory. Add to that the fact that it's a phone (well, the iTouch isn't, but most people are buying the nano right now) and people don't want to waste all their battery charge playing games (or they'll learn the hard way) and it wasn't designed with game controls in mind, so people only expect mini-games, so they only pay mini-game prices.

    The difference with the Wii etc is that they have killer apps. The iPhone's only killer app is coolness. (and some conveniences). Apple hasn't hired anyone like Shigeru Miyamoto or Free Radical. How many N64s were sold because of Mario64 and Goldeneye? (I know Rare developed Goldeneye, but most of the team left for Free Radical)

    /me might develop modern text adventures, sounds cheap and easy on iPhone. oops, I was eaten by a grue :(

  3. Goat Jam
    Paris Hilton

    EA have killed the PC gaming industry

    with cookie cutter console conversions of redundant recycled reruns and ceaseless series of stupefyingly stupid sequels.

    Same problem that Hollywood has these days. No fucking guts and no fucking idea.

    Paris, because, well, just because.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The problem isn't...

    ...with the iPhone (or the Touch)- it's gaming full stop.

    I used to be keen when it came to gaming- I've got something like 80 games a piece for the Dreamcast, PSX, Xbox- but the prospect of playing the same titles over and over again with only increased resolution to differentiate between generations did the whole hobby in for me. You want some proof? Go back and play Doom or Wolfenstein 3D, and tell me that there's been untrammeled improvements in play mechanics between then and now. The narrative experience hasn't improved significantly since Half Life some 10 years ago. The spec for each wave of PC games gets bigger and more expensive each year, and Crysis on full is an impressive experience, but is it that much different to any one of the FPS that we've seen since Doom popped up 15 odd years ago?

    Also- I disagree with the comments about the user interface limiting the game dev scene on the apple devices. If anything the Wii has shown that, if anything, a move away from the ever increasing complexity of the console controller can be fantastic- it's just devs need to look at the platforms capabilities as a whole (i.e. not just the tech spec) and work out what's best for the device.

    Bigger, better and faster doesn't equal compelling. Go off and try some of the following games in Dos Box, and then decide whether modern gaming is worth the candle of running a £2k gaming rig:

    Scorched Earth


    Secret of Monkey Island 2

    Doom Aliens TC

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It shows..

    ... that for a game you need both gfx, a good idea and good controls. The iphone kinda has the first 2 but not the 3rd, theres only a few side scrollers i have played on the iphone that are any good, and not one yet hasn't made me think "i'll just play mario on the ds or megaman on the psp, as i can actaully control that"

    The issue with touch screens, specally the iphone as theres no stylus is that you cover up the screen to control it! the multitouch works to a point but you are still limited to 2 button presses, thats forward and jump, if you need to run as well then you need to use the accelerometer which causes even more issues as its not 100% reliable.

    iPhone games are currently the same as every other mobile game, fun for a bit, to make them even compare to ds and psp they need a better control system, sad but true.

  6. jai


    killer apps on the Wii? which ones, exactly?

    i don't know any serious games players that carry on using their Wii after 2 months of owning it. they all switch back to the real games on their 360 or ps3

  7. Matt K

    A sea of mediocrity

    There are a couple of decent, different iPhone games - Zen Bound and Sway spring to mind - but the majority are just mediocre ports (with added touch, as the article suggests).

    However, the setup of the iTunes store really doesn't help. It's very difficult to filter out the dross and see what apps are really new or different. iTMS really needs some quality control barriers.

    Having said that, I'll still leap at the first iPhone port of Football/Championship Manager...

  8. Luis Ogando

    Touchscreen Gaming

    Of course, the real issue with playing games via touchscreen, on a screen that's only a few inches across, is that you can't see naff all when you've got your hand in the way. Electronic versons of card, board and turn-based games work to a degree because you have time to move your hand out of the way between moves to see what's happening. Try playing a FPS game (or another fast-paced genre) and you're sunk. Particularly on the iPhone, where you may be expected to use more than one digit!

    The DS gets 'round this with an additional screen for control (e.g. Metroid) and the PSP doesn't seem to bother with touch at all. Both work as games machines and both do well in pretty much owning the portable gaming market.

    Maybe Apple just need to put more 'proper' buttons on the iPhone..... or not.

    Heart, because I love my PSP...even without a touchscreen |;o)

  9. Matthew
    Thumb Up

    @ goat

    That's why Ubisoft is FTW. buggy games, but they're sure different

  10. Lionel Baden

    Spore !

    I was so exited when i first saw the ads loved the idea then 1 year later it comes along

    I get it install it play the most imaginitive new and intresting part of the game ameba. Well unfortunatly this has no reflection on what you creature actually looks like and no matter the next level doesnt either !!

    Actually none of them do

    Seriously one of the strongest replay values was that you would have to start again to see how different creatures could be made from the very beggining

  11. Eddie Edwards
    Dead Vulture

    No no no no no

    The App Store is not the solution, it is the WHOLE PROBLEM.

    Saturation on the app store is at such a level that you would be an idiot to spend more than two weeks coding anything for it, because the expected return is about that. Sure, one in 100,000 developers might achieve a hit but if you like those odds you're better off buying a lottery ticket.

    The indie games market has received a huge set-back with the App Store. Now games have to compete with toys for the same dollars, which are diverted away from more sensible mobile platforms or even casual PC gaming. Well it's a lot easier to design a $1 toy app than the kind of "superb-but-amazingly-its-indie" game that people orgasm over *precisely* because of its rarity, but won't pay more than $4 for in practice. Add to this the fact that accelerometers are much easier to leverage in a toy than a game, while any kind of joypad is totally lacking, and the iPhone just looks like a joke platform. Which it is, frankly.

    Anyway, you media types will bitch forever about "not enough risk is being taken in games" just as you have done for the last 50 years regarding Hollywood. But like it or not, the Hollywood / AAA market is where all the money is, and it's expensive to develop for, so risks will be few and far between. As long as people keep buying, it's working. What did you say about "recession-proof"? You were referring to Braid saving the economy, or do those unimportant tedious franchised AAA games contribute at all?

  12. richard
    Thumb Up

    nah, here's the future...

    the future of mobile games is based on augmented technology, have a browse:

    search for some more great examples of this on the tube...

  13. bygjohn

    Re: just wait for OS3.0!

    "/me might develop modern text adventures, sounds cheap and easy on iPhone."

    Sorry, Frotz has already been ported... :-)

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