MacLife has an enlightening interview with Travis Boatman, the iPhone boss over at Electronic Arts.
Regarding the iPhone as a gaming device compared to the DS and PSP:
I think all three devices actually provide really great play experiences. How they’re different, though, is what’s important. I think, fundamentally, the DS and the PSP are decisions. And what I mean by decisions is, when you’re going to jump on an airplane, you say, “I’m going to pack my Nintendo DS.” So you grab your charger and your cartridges, you pack it all together, and you go on your trip. It’s a very focused kind of experience when you decide to play those games.
Now, with any kind of phone—the iPhone included—it’s not really a decision. It’s with you all the time. It’s ubiquitous. So at that moment you think, “Yeah, I’d like to play a game,” you just take it out of your pocket and start playing. I think that’s one of the first fundamental differences. One platform is a phone. It’s with you all the time. The other platforms are decisions.
He raises an interesting point that I feel is often overlooked when discussing the iPhone as a gaming device. When you use a gaming device such as the PSP, you make a conscious decision to put all other distractions aside, and get down to gaming, just like Boatman pointed out. But the iPhone, in a weird way, is a more versatile gaming device because it appeals to the casual gamer, or even the hardcore gamer who happens to find him/herself with a few minutes to kill. In other words, when you put the gaming capabilities of the devices aside, it’s clear that the iPhone is a device that users will play games on more frequently. You won’t find hardcore first person shooters on the iPhone, but at the same time, there are a number of enjoyable and quirky games that you can’t purchase for the DS or the PSP either. The majority of people don’t have time to make the DS or PSP decision, but the majority of people do have time to play a quick game of Enigmo, Super Monkey Ball, or Bejeweled 2.
The iPhone/iPod Touch might not attract serious DS and PSP users, but it might open up a new market for casual gamers that the DS and PSP just won’t be able to compete in.
Check out the full interview here. It’s definitely worth a read.