Steve Jobs was voted as the man who’s had the most impact on gaming. Not Shigeru Miyamoto, who created many games that you love and, some could argue, helped save gaming after the crash. Not even someone like Gabe Newell, who helped change PC gaming with Steam. And no, this wasn’t a poll put out to the kid in your psychology class who calls themselves a gamer for playing Angry Birds. These were fans and professionals in the industry who voted for this. And with that, the most influential product was said to be the iPhone.
A phone. Not even a gaming platform or service. Created by a man who had little interest in games or the industry (though he did pay games some good lip service during press conferences).
Was iOS meant to be a gaming platform when it first came out? No, but it had the capability for it. Much like my feature phone can play a Doom RPG or a bad version of Tetris, games were really for anyone who might have some interest in playing on it. The iPhone and iOS were never meant to change gaming or become devices for gaming on. Yet watching the 3DS not do as well as Nintendo hoped, and seeing dedicated handheld systems get lambasted for costs and limited scope, it’s apparent now that iOS has changed gaming, and it’s done it in the best way it could: by becoming a game platform in and of itself.
It’s impossible to really point to WHEN this happened, but everyone had the same “wait, what?!” reaction during a press conference when it was revealed that Epic Games was working on an iPhone title. When a giant studio like that is making a game, and even manages to port their extremely powerful engine to this phone, everyone started paying more attention, and other game companies began to put out their own games- real, actual games, not simple “tilt the phone to jump higher” deals. Scribblenauts has been ported over, there are versions of Resident Evil on there, Square Enix has released hyper-polished versions of Final Fantasy even. Some companies like Capcom aren’t even doing ports and are just making new games, and even some titles that started on other platforms are said to be best experienced on iOS devices.
However, developers have to be careful and know the limits of the device. Anything that has the player putting their finger on and obscuring important elements on the playfield is objectively a bad design. The games that catch on know the limits- Infinity Blade is like a Punch-Out game, allowing for swipes instead of a finger always on the screen. Not having buttons also makes it difficult to be precise with a lot of things- hence, the Mega Man game Capcom put out wasn’t reviewed so well.
A lot of people like to mention the cost of the games being a huge factor as well. But I feel like, in the future, it won’t stay that way. There will always be $.99 games, sure, but developers are already putting out $15 games, and as people start to unlock what they can do with the graphics and hardware, it’s just going to get more expensive from there- and probably won’t be too different from modern handheld games, really. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t be super stoked about getting Picross on an iOS device!
I guess one of the most telling things about it is that iOS games are being ported to other consoles. Dungeon Defenders and Fruit Ninja are the biggest examples, and who knows what may follow? As long as developers are able to make their games fit the platform, there’s a good amount of potential for where games in this market can go.