How the iPad is poised to change gaming on the iPhone platform

Mon, Apr 26, 2010


Hardcore gamers may scoff at the iPhone as a gaming platform, but the iTunes App Store is a force to be reckoned with whether you like it or not. Gaming on the iPhone or iPod Touch is admittedly not as an immersive gaming experience when measured against console titles, but that that type of comparison misses the point.

A title by title comparison across platforms is a red herring because the iPhone appeals to a decidedly different kind of gamer – the casual gamer. No one in their right minds would ever say the quality of GTA: Chinatown Wars on the iPhone offers the same experience as GTA IV on the Playstation, but that doesn’t matter. Many of the more popular and downloaded games for the iPhone are simple games that are fun to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time. So while the iPhone as a gaming platform is laughable when viewed through the prism of a serious gamer, its success is predicated on its ability to attract people otherwise uninterested in hooking up a xBox or Wii and playing Madden ’10 and Tetris for hours on end.

The iPad, though, may turn the current iPhone gaming paradigm on its head. Alex Ahlund of AppVee writes:

One of the biggest reasons that gimmicky apps and quick pick-up-and-play games have done so well is because the iPhone and iPod Touch are products that fit in your pocket. Typically, you take them everywhere and they are always within reach. This allows for the majority of use to occur within short periods of time (i.e. waiting in line, on the bus, during a boring meeting, etc.). To fill the needs of those sorts of time constraints, short-use applications fit the bill. This limits the desire for a deep experience or time consuming game.

The iPad changes this. As a device that works as an in-between for your mobile device and your desktop, the time use allowance goes up dramatically. In most situations, you won’t pull out your iPad while waiting in line at the post office. It won’t be carried everywhere you go. While some will treat it as a netbook substitute, I anticipate a lot of its use will occur casually at home.

Since the iPad is not a pocket-sized device like the iPhone and iPod Touch, time constraints become less of an issue. This means that bite-sized games or gimmicks will feel less at home here. Something like Doodle Jump will most likely not do so well on this platform. This is likely to cause the market to desire more fulfilling experiences, especially in the games space. In effect, developers will respond accordingly to meet this new market need. This acts as one phase of the changing landscape.


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