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iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP

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Daniel Eran Dilger
When the iPhone was unveiled a year ago, it was obvious that it would outclass the status quo in mobile phones, particularly in the US where mobile operators have been holding back innovation. Far less obvious was the potential for the new phone to rival dedicated handheld gaming consoles. Here’s how well the iPhone stacks up against the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP in both hardware and as a business model.


Not a Fair Fight.
At first blush, one likely wouldn’t think of the iPhone as being in the same league as handheld gaming consoles. However, when Apple showcased a half dozen prototype apps at the SDK launch, fully half of them were games. Clearly, Apple isn’t going to be ignoring games on the iPhone.

The most obvious competition the iPhone faces is the leading Nintendo DS and the distant runner up, Sony’s PlayStation Portable. Incidentally, both gaming units appeared on the market in late 2004; the iPhone benefits from being nearly three years younger, and therefore based on considerably more modern technology. However, gaming isn’t an easy market to break into.

In addition to the very popular DS and the runner up success of the PSP, there have been notable failures in mobile gaming. Nokia’s Symbian-based “side talking” N-Gage, released in late 2003, fell dramatically short of sales goals and turned into an embarrassing joke for the company. In early 2005, Microsoft worked with Gametrac to deliver a WinCE based gaming device called Gizmondo; that company fell apart after scandals erupted involving executives’ ties to a Swedish crime ring and massive embezzling and reckless spending resulted in its bankruptcy. It didn’t help that Gizmondo was branded the “worst console of all time” by gamer magazine writers.

The Spectacular Failure of WinCE and Windows Mobile

Playing the Console Game.
Successfully deploying a game console is a lot of work and a lot of risk. The hardware has to deliver competitive features while also being priced low enough to attract a large audience of buyers. There’s also the catch-22 of selling units before enough game titles exist, or alternatively, lining up developer support before having sold any units to players.

Gaming heavyweight Sega pulled out of the living room games console business entirely after the tepid launch of the Dreamcast in 1998. Despite pioneering hardware, the Dreamcast suffered from poor marketing and was subsequently blindsided by the smash success of Sony’s PlayStation 2 nearly two years later.

However, Sony’s own efforts to enter the handheld gaming world, long dominated by Nintendo, didn’t materialize as planned either. Despite attractive hardware and its association with the most popular series of living room consoles ever, the PSP has fallen short of selling half as many units as the DS: 31 million PSP units versus 65 million DS. Nintendo also still sells the earlier generation Game Boy Advance, which has sold an additional 81 million units since 2001. Combined, Nintendo has sold nearly as many handheld gaming units since 2001 as Apple has sold iPods.

Microsoft similarly proved that its desktop PC monopoly power was no match for the entrenched players in the games console business, losing tens of billions on the original Xbox and Xbox 360 while remaining in a distant also ran position. Just two years into its massive investments in the 360, the console has already seen sales fall of dramatically in its second year, and entering 2008, it has consistently slipped behind the PS3 in monthly unit sales.

Video Game Consoles 2007: Wii, PS3 and the Death of Microsoft’s Xbox 360

Video Game Consoles 2007: Wii, PS3 and the Death of Microsoft’s Xbox 360

Apple’s Quiet Gaming Strategy.
Apple seemingly wouldn’t stand much chance in throwing its own ring into the rough and tumble games console business. Its last effort, a licensing deal with Bandai to resell a low end PowerPC Mac as the 1995 Pippin entertainment system, was a notable failure.

Rather than directly competing against the big players, Apple has been developing games for the iPod in what has appeared to be a Steve Jobs Hobby since late 2006. However, those efforts translate directly into the new iPhone development platform, as Apple has used iPod games to perfect a system for secure digital software delivery through iTunes.

When the games appeared, it was a bit of a surprise to see what the iPod could deliver. It shouldn’t have been; the 5G iPods have the same ARM7TDMI processor as the Game Boy Advance (the iPod actually has two), a higher resolution 320×260 screen compared to the GBA’s 240×160, far more RAM (64MB) and plenty of disk storage to avoid needing to carry around any cartridges.

The iPod could deliver these major hardware advantages over the GBA because it was designed to be sold for around $400; the GBA was intended to retail for around $200. The iPod certainly wasn’t designed to compete as a gaming device, but its latent capacity makes it a viable alternative for the tens of millions of users who already have an iPod and want to use it for new things. Apple’s pioneering $5 game market also lowers the threshold for impulse buying.

Hacking iPod Games: How Apple’s DRM Works

Can a Phone Play Real Games?
The iPhone has similar hardware advantages over the DS and PSP, both of which were engineered to sell at much lower price points. The DS originally sold for $149 (and is now $129), and the PSP debuted in the US at $249 (now sells for $169). The 8GB iPhone debuted at $599 (and now sells for $399).

Apple’s engineers not only had a bigger budget to spend, but could use more modern technology given that Apple released the iPhone two and a half years later. Here’s how their hardware compares:

Nintendo DS: Late 2004
67 MHz ARM 946E-S (N-Gage processor) + 33 MHz ARM7TDMI (same processor as the original iPods)
4MB RAM
256KB Flash + cartridge storage
Dual, 256×192 3“ displays; one is stylus touch sensitive
No accelerometers
No camera
No mobile radio
WiFi 802.11b/g
No Bluetooth

Sony PSP: Late 2004
333 MHz MIPS R4000 CPU + GPU with 2 MB onboard VRAM running at 166 MHz
32 MB main RAM (new models expanded to 64MB), and 4 MB embedded DRAM. MemoryStick storage, UMD media
480×272 (368×207 usable for video); no touch screen features
No accelerometers
No camera
No mobile radio
WiFi 802.11b
No Bluetooth

Apple iPhone: Mid 2007
Samsung ARM SoC 620 MHz 1176 running at 412 Mhz + PowerVR MBX 3D GPU
128MB RAM
8 or 16GB Flash storage
320×480 3.5” display with finger multitouch input
Accelerometers for direct physical control
2 Megapixel camera
Quad band GSM + EDGE
WiFi 802.11 b/g
BlueTooth 2.0 EDR

The iPhone is in a significantly different class of performance, has far more internal resources for games, and is equipped with a variety of other hardware–from its camera to its ubiquitous (if slow) mobile network to its multitouch high resolution display and accelerometers–all of which have to power to unlock entirely new classes of games and other more serious applications.

As a handheld console, this feature set makes the iPhone a bit like the Wii, with interactive new gameplay features, and a bit like the PS3, with higher performance gaming specs and additional online and media capabilities. Buyers won’t have to decide if they want a handheld game console; they’ll get it for free when they buy the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Further, because Apple is attaching game development as a sidecar dessert on top of a device that is primarily monetized as a hardware sale (boosted by retail and accessory sales, media sales, and carrier revenue sharing), developers will get more bang from their buck and will incur less risk developing games for the iPhone. The iPhone has also already proven itself as a very desirable smartphone, even before the arrival of any native games, ameliorating the worries of a whether games developers should invest in the platform.

The iPhone’s development tools are more approachable to a wide audience of developers already familiar with the Mac, they’re significantly cheaper to obtain and get started with than other consoles, and game distribution will be much easier and more lucrative because Apple doesn’t need to squeeze fat licensing fees out of its developers to make money. In fact, Apple will do best by continuing to give developers those groundbreaking 70% royalties on their software sales, encouraging a wide and deep gaming market to develop for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple’s iPhone vs Smartphone Software Makers

Apple’s iPhone vs Smartphone Software Makers

The Chips and the Frameworks.
The iPhone’s System on a Chip processor bundles an ARM 1176 clocked at 412 MHz. The DS uses a pair of much earlier and simpler ARM processors, while the PSP uses the now dead end MIPS architecture, which was used in the Nintendo 64 and earlier PlayStation and PS2 consoles. Both Nintendo and Sony have since moved their modern living room consoles to variants of the PowerPC family.

That leaves the iPhone with an ideal CPU architecture for handheld gaming, and one familiar to existing smartphone developers. Above the hardware level, the Phone’s Cocoa Touch layers on a mature development framework that makes creating software for the iPhone much easier than developing for Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm, RIM BlackBerry, and other mobile platforms.

The iPhone’s SoC also bundles a PowerVR MBX graphics processor. In the late 90s, prior to the advent of ATI and NVidia as GPU leaders, PowerVR rivaled 3dfx Voodoo graphics cards in the PC market. Sega’s Dreamcast was also built around a PowerVR graphics processor. Following the rise of ATI and NVidia, PowerVR moved into the embedded mobile arena and became the standard for mobile smartphones and related devices.

Getting performance from smartphones has often been difficult because mobiles commonly rely on their own proprietary software or least common denominator packages like Sun’s stripped down Java ME. Apple’s iPhone SDK uses OpenGL ES, the same standard graphics API used by Symbian smartphone developers and the Sony PS3. This standardization will make graphics and games development for the iPhone familiar to a wide audience.

Again, in addition to using the PowerVR hardware and Open GL ES software, Apple is also providing its own slick software integration with tools such as Core Animation, making it much easier for developers to achieve a consistent look and feel with the buttery iPhone interface without necessarily being experts in embedded video development.

iPhone ARM

Origins: Why the iPhone is ARM, and isn’t Symbian

And the Competition?
Nintendo has long held a dominant position in handheld gaming, developed through a strategy of focusing on playability. The Game Boy, GBA, and DS didn’t deliver the most incredible hardware of the time, but did serve as low cost gaming devices paired with large libraries of games licensed by Nintendo. The company has worked to maintain high quality games for all of its platforms.

That also results in making Nintendo’s platforms closed tighter than Apple. Nintendo started in its closed development plans after the Video Game Crash of 1983 nearly wiped video gaming out of retail stores. Atari had encouraged unlimited game production for the 2600, resulting in some game titles being produced in greater quantities than the console itself. The result was a glut of games foisted upon retailers and a backlash against gaming.

Nintendo successfully reintroduced gaming by positioning its new NES game console as an “entertainment system” paired with a toy robot. As gaming took off again in the late 80s, Nintendo’s strict controls gave it strong market power and delivered exceptional profits. Independent developers couldn’t ship games for the NES without a licensing agreement with Nintendo.

Nintendo ruled the roost until its deal to build a new CD-equipped Super NES system with Sony fell through, resulting in Sony leaving to develop its own PlayStation games console in late 1994. Sony maintained the same games licensing model as Nintendo. When Microsoft entered the fray in 2001 with the Xbox, it similarly relied upon software licensing revenue to partially bail out its console hardware losses.

These conventional game console makers rely heavily on software licensing fees to keep their heads above water; Apple doesn’t. Software sales through iTunes will be self supporting in an effort to drive software availability. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have largely been opposed to small homebrew development, and are therefore going to be threatened by Apple’s encouragement of software development freed from licensing profiteering.

iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work

iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work

Microsoft recently unveiled XNA plans that try to achieve both: courting small developers to make online Xbox games and software for the Zune, and then subsequently taxing them as much as 70% in exchange for marketing exposure. Like Apple’s iPhone App Store, Microsoft won’t allow outside development, not because of security issues, but because that’s where Microsoft hopes to make the majority of its money. It remains to be seen how well that will work for the company, particularly given the extremely low uptake of the Zune and the year over year free fall in sales of Xbox 360 units.

Microsoft also appears to have given up all efforts to repurpose WinCE as a third party handheld gaming platform after the failure of the Gametrac Gizmondo. While the company recognizes the importance of “developers, developers, developers,” without a viable platform to sell to, those developers won’t care.

Nokia is trying to resuscitate N-Gage 2.0 as a gaming platform for its higher end N-series smartphones as part of Ovi, a portal site that also plans to sell music and GPS maps. The gaming platform will be constrained somewhat by the simpler specs of Nokia’s phones; the N81 has a similar processor, but only 96MB of RAM, a far more limited graphics resolution of 240×320, and no touchscreen or accelerometers, limiting the new N-Gage platform to the simplistic cell phone style games that have already failed to garner much attention.

Nintendo is unlikely to be pushed from its perch of selling $130 handheld game consoles by the $299 and up iPod Touch and iPhone. It has also demonstrated no interest in moving into mobile phone gaming itself. Unlike other hardware makers, Nintendo has also worked to sell its consoles at a profit while also earning software licensing revenues. That means Nintendo may be less likely to deliver games for Apple’s platform, as it would tend to draw attention away from its own handheld gaming efforts.

At the same time however, the company was quick to point out that its DS didn’t directly compete against the Sony PSP, and those two products were only $100 apart; Nintendo might therefore aim to deliver software for the iPhone because of the limited competition between the two platforms serving different markets at very different price points.

Sony is working to establish the PS3 and grow sales of the PSP before the three year old platform begins to run out of steam. PSP developers face more complex and expensive tools, which has resulted in fewer games being developed and sold. The PSP only had 2 games in the US top 50 last year, compared to 12 for the Nintendo DS.

Sony has also hampered the PSP with its preoccupation with promoting its own proprietary, physical media formats, including the failed UMD and MemoryStick. Apple’s online distribution model will democratize development and the iPhone’s wireless App Store and large Flash storage will encourage lower priced game sales in volume.

Sega no longer makes its own gaming hardware, giving it free rein to develop titles for the iPhone. It demonstrated a prototype of Super Monkey Ball using the iPhone’s accelerometers to control player movement. Sega noted that the iPhone’s 320×480 resolution meant that it had to spruce up its graphics, commenting that the iPhone supported console-style graphics rather than those typical of a cell phone.

Artificial Life, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, Feral Interactive, Freeverse, Gameloft, id Software, Pangea, THQ, and Namco Bandai have all confirmed an intent to deliver games for the platform, with Gameloft announcing plans for fifteen titles by the end of the year. Apple also demonstrated Touch Fighter, its own in house game, showing off the iPhone’s use of both OpenGL graphics, accelerometer support, and OpenAL audio for stereo sound positioning.

Touch Fighter iPhone

Ethan Einhorn, who demonstrated Sega’s Super Monkey Ball, told gaming site Next-Gen, “From a technical standpoint, the iPhone is competitive with dedicated handheld gaming devices [like the DS and PSP]. The delivery system for software will be digital and easy to use. And the ability to have all of your portable electronics needs catered to with one device is irresistible. Given all of that, the potential for the iPhone as a games platform is massive. From a technical standpoint, the iPhone is competitive with dedicated handheld gaming devices. This is a phone that offers plenty of power to work with, no compatibility concerns, and uniform input functionality. That represents an evolution in the mobile gaming space.”

10 Games Perfect for iPhone : Next Generation

As Apple migrates its 150 million iPod installed base toward the iPod Touch and iPhone, the company will pair a large user base with enthusiastic development efforts. Users will get the gaming environment as a free addition to the phone, media player, and web browser they purchased. Conversely, that also means that lesser phones with plodding web browser capabilities and simplistic media playback–as well as dedicated games consoles that really only play games–will have a hard time competing against the new platform. That should make for an interesting 2008.

More on the iPhone 2.0 SDK

iPhone 2.0 SDK: The No Multitasking Myth
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone?
iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP
iPhone 2.0 SDK: Readers Write on Certificate Signing

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94 comments

1 iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.20.08 at 12:35 am }

[...] Multitasking Myth iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your [...]

2 Michael { 03.20.08 at 1:29 am }

all i can say is wow. once again, great analysis… i don’t know how you do it, you just keep impressing me and others with insightful comments! anyway, everything makes sense, except about nintendo possibly serving iphone users games… just seems like it would eat into their business at any rate. and i wonder how long the battery will last with the screen and possibly wifi going full bore while you’re playing a game?!

3 addicted44 { 03.20.08 at 2:46 am }

Really good article.

However, Nintendo does not really worry about this. Nintendo will always be fine because of the fantastic in house game developers they have, and the great IP they have built up over the years. Also, while the DS might not be as powerful as the iphone, it is plenty innovative and has a base that will mean it will continue to rule the mobile gaming roost.

Unfortunately, Sony is not going to be that lucky. The PSP is the first handheld gaming device that will take a hit because of the iphone.

However, if Apple does not advertise the iphone for games, I would be surprised if it hurt either of the other 2 players, because someone looking to buy their kids a gaming machine would probably not think of the iphone.

4 sebastianlewis { 03.20.08 at 3:08 am }

Hmm, Nintendo is the wild card here. On one hand, even though their hardware is profitable enough, this could serve as a bail out for them to stop making hardware and focus on a different platform, on the other hand I don’t think Nintendo will do that at all.

But I think EA (or I think it was EA who said this) summed it up best: the iPhone is a canvas. While you do lose tactile feedback in gameplay, you do gain on nice big screen to think of some more creative controls rather than “virtual buttons” on the side of the screen or something stupid like that. I made quite a few comments about the possibilities here and here, and I’m sure there’s a lot more possibilities than just that, but essentially anything on screen can be used to control in game actions.

Sebastian

5 Russell Heistuman { 03.20.08 at 4:13 am }

It’s looking more and more like the iPhone will become the definition for the term “juggernaut.”

6 Rich { 03.20.08 at 4:54 am }

There’s a very good discussion about this matter on the forum:

http://forum.roughlydrafted.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=856&page=2#Item_13

7 string { 03.20.08 at 7:32 am }

Do you think this games strategy was there from the outset or did it just suddenly occur to Apple?
I myself think it just occurred to them when they decided to release the sdk. They looked at ways to demonstrate the ease of programming the iphone and the penny dropped.

8 Wizfinger { 03.20.08 at 8:12 am }

You forgot to mention that all of this gaming goodness will also be available on the iPod Touch, which is cheaper than the iPhone and caters a different (younger?) audience than the iPhone, and is already available worldwide, unlike the iPhone.

9 jfatz { 03.20.08 at 8:33 am }

Wait… what?

I usually follow the commentary quite well, but I’m noticing a few curious things you seem to be quickly glossing over:

You’ve often spoken of MS’s Home and Entertainment division losses before, but when did it turn into “tens of billions?” IIRC from your OWN previous analysis, you pegged it at 9 billion.

(Also a minor niggling point, but the Dreamcast didn’t really have a “tepid launch,” since it launched with better numbers that pretty much every console previously. It was still, however, quickly steamrolled by the PS2.)

Also, regarding “groundbreaking 70% royalties,” I know you covered a number of other services in your previous article, but do they represent the bulk of them? And here you’re also doing a major comparison to the DS and PSP platforms… do we know what kind of deal companies have with Sony and Nintendo to release titles on their platforms to get full context?

Also regarding the chips and architecture, the DS is certainly capable of delivering good games, and obviously it has not hurt their sales compared to the PSP since they launched at the same time. (No “momentum” arguments there, though one can bring up the possible impact of backwards compatibility with GBA games.) Do you see that giving the DS a cost-of-development edge against the iPhone/Touch for similarly-complex games? And do you see the PSP’s MIPS architecture being something that holds back development and/or makes it more expensive, or will any architecture queasiness be defined more by the quality of the development tools Sony provides, and–at this point–the internal tools and assets companies have build up in the past three years? Are the tools themselves inherently that much more “complex and expensive,” or would that cost be simply a pittance compared with the asset development and gameplay formulation and testing that would need to go on for games to be on graphical par, complexity, and length of what most gamers are used to?

PowerVR, meanwhile, never really “competed” with 3dfx. No one really remembers their first uses in PC 3D expansion cards (the Apocalypse was out before 3dfx even established itself), and while their KYRO I and II were well-regarded, they were out when 3dfx was already known to be heading out the door (they were defunct the next year), and was fighting for shelf space and performance comparisons with ATi’s first Radeons, and the GeForce2′s.

I would really imply that Nintendo “relies on heavy software licensing fees to keep their heads above water” either. They didn’t start off losing much on the Gamecube, and they’re certainly not losing anything on the Wii nor their handhelds as consoles, and in the living room consoles their biggest earners have always been their own games. They make a lot MORE money from letting others tag along, but they’d be notably successful and profitable even if it was ONLY distributing games they themselves develop and publish. (There would just be no reason to make their platform THAT closed.)

As well, regarding your spec list, it may pay to be more thorough so it doesn’t look like you’re avoiding other platform advantages to favor the iPhone. For instance speaker quality and sound chip capabilities for headset use, if you have them… But moreover things like the built-in mic on the DS (which is used as a control and enhancement method, and which the iPhone may also be able to tap, SDK-depending), and listing which devices have separate external attachements instead of listing them at “no.” (We can obviously make up our own minds as to whether or not it would matter.)

–cough–

At any rate, I don’t want to come off as only kvetching, but this particular post has turned pretty long and voices my “concerns.” I’ve been very vocal about Apple being able to trojan horse their way into the landscape successfully with their mobile devices and a new kind of gameplan, but since your articles are normally chock full of info, I wanted to correct a few things I saw, and help flesh things out that I think might have been glossed over too quickly.

I’ll make my “analysis” and “conjecture” post later, as I used up my “sitting at home catching up on a few posts” time with this, and think my next post will be long too. ;-) It’s fun stuff, after all.

10 jfatz { 03.20.08 at 8:34 am }

/smacks self

Should have read “I wouldn’t really imply” regarding Nintendo, of course.

11 WholesaleMagic { 03.20.08 at 8:58 am }

Let me get it out there straight away: I think the accelerometer (plus multitouch) is an amazing feature that has many extremely practical applications.

It also has some interesting gaming applications, as was shown by the games demoed at the Apple event a few weeks ago. It’s perfect for tilting flat, virtual surfaces, or controlling vehicles and aircraft.

I think, though, that when it comes to games, there’s nothing like a good D-pad or control stick. Perhaps I’m being a bit too narrow minded here, but I don’t see how you could create a good shoot ‘em up using multitouch/accelerometer. Pressing your finger on someone’s head to shoot them wouldn’t give the same satisfaction.

On the other hand, the types of games that will show up on the iPhone/iPod Touch have the potential to be quite radical in terms of their control styles and content. I’m sure that game developers will find ways to bring current games to iPhone, as well as create new, interesting kinds of games.

12 brett_x { 03.20.08 at 9:47 am }

I’ve got an issue with just one point of this article..
“The iPod certainly wasn’t designed to compete as a gaming device, but its latent capacity makes it a viable alternative for the tens of millions of users who already have an iPod and want to use it for new things.”

Do you really think Apple will just let us update our old iPods to a new firmware that will play games or add other features? Apple is not known for this. They want you to own as many iPods as possible.
This could change with the iPod touch and possibly future iPods, but it’s always been a safe assumption that you buy the iPod based on its current capabilities. Remember when Apple started games? Only the latest generation would play them, and that hasn’t changed. Apple hasn’t even put the Nike Plus feature on anything but the Nano… which drove me to buy a Nano.. so Apple’s strategy seems to work.

13 jfatz { 03.20.08 at 9:59 am }

brett_X:

The old iPods are already perfectly capable of playing games and CAN be a viable alternative. What it “wasn’t designed for” and holds it back is pretty much just the control scheme, as the clickwheel does not make for the most convenient and intuitive interface for the vast majority of games that could show up.

So basically it’s just developer intent, and–in part–people recognizing that the older iPods DO play games. The capability isn’t marketed and there’s little emphasis on it, so it’s mainly there for a few people who feel like pursuing it.

No firmware update is needed for it; the “capability” is already there. It just needs people to decide they want to make games and other software available for it, which in the light of the iPhone/iPod Touch SDK is unlikely to happen, as they have a MUCH better development platform there.

14 dicklacara { 03.20.08 at 10:56 am }

@sebastianlewis
The EA quote about losing tactile feedback is not entirely correct. There is an haptic keyboard program for jailbroken phones:

http://www.tuaw.com/2008/02/26/iphone-haptic-keyboard-prototype-debuts/

15 dicklacara { 03.20.08 at 11:18 am }

@ sebastianlewis

The EA quote about about giving up tactile feedback wasn’t entirely correct. An haptic keyboard has been written for Jailbroken iPhones:

http://www.tuaw.com/2008/02/26/iphone-haptic-
keyboard-prototype-debuts/

@WholesaleMagic

One way to aim and shoot would be to use the accelerometers to:

1) change the users view of the scene– move the target towards the center (crosshairs)

2) or change the players orientation to the target maybe using a laser beam as a sight

Then blast away by tapping (anywhere) 1, 2, or both thumbs– giving, at least 3 shooting options.

Softer/shorter: sounds, flashes and vibrations would give tactile feedback to the act of shooting.

Louder/longer: sounds, explosions and vibrations would provide tactile feedback to (the degree of) a hit on target.

When used with the 3-D sound, this could be quite effective.

I can’t wait for a Wiiremote-style hand-strap accessory for the iPhone.

16 asdrubal { 03.20.08 at 11:21 am }

Nice post indeed. OTOH, I keep pondering if this “migration” from iPods to iPhone/Touch is really going to happen and, if it ever does, if it would be good at all.

For me, what makes an iPod an iPod is basically the wheel. You take out the wheel and the device turns into just an MP3 player.

I think the iPhone/Touch don’t have wheels and so for me they are just MP3 players like the rest of the pack, not real iPods. I’m not saying they are not excellent devices, I don’t leave home without my Touch, but they surely are not good MP3 players as an iPod is supposed to be.

Moving part of the audience to tablet based devices would make a lot of sense, sure. But removing the wheel based devices from the portfolio would not.

Anyway, that’s just me rambling… :)

17 rludvig { 03.20.08 at 12:01 pm }

There are still a couple of things missing on the iPhone in order to compete with other game consoles:
1. The absence of any controller buttons means that they will have to be implemented using the touch screen, taking up valuable space, since you can’t do everything with the accelerometer.
2. The multitasking restrictions that Apple wants to impose on the iPhone are probably related to the battery limitations and will definitely affect gaming too.
3. The absence of mesh network support (a la PSP) is a dealbreaker for all those that want multiplayer games without wifi coverage.

Otherwise, I think the iPhone will definitely bring some competition to the portable gaming space, given its superior hardware.

I’m also thinking that after the huge success of the 1st version, Apple will look into diversifying their lineup. I could imagine an iPhone specially modified for games, with a PSP like controller layout. Also a smaller, iPhone nano version, etc. Do you consider writing a piece on this subject, by the way ? I think the diversification of the iPhone would make an interesting subject.

18 Robb { 03.20.08 at 12:21 pm }

Dan, I’m a little confused by this article. Nintendo and Sony are the “good guys”, remember? Why would Apple want to compete with them? :-D

19 dicklacara { 03.20.08 at 12:38 pm }

@Robb
Apple and Sony compete all the time (walkman, etc. vs iPod) and cooperate where it serves their interests.

It’s called a free market, in which competition benefits the consumers and providers, alike.

Maybe the threat of competition from the iPhone will spur Sony and Nintendo to create the next “great thing” in personal gaming experience!

20 Llydis { 03.20.08 at 3:06 pm }

Michael Pachter thinks iPhone consumers are rich, disinterested, hip consumers. While blissfully ignoring the other people who own iPod Touch.

http://gaygamer.net/2008/03/iphone_makes_me_hip_iphone_mak.html

I enjoy being rich(debatable), hip(maybe) and disinterested(I guess?) I’d also like to see how the apps will start influencing the idea of what a mobile app is, should be, and will be.

As for iPhone/iPod Touch as a gaming platform, I’m for it. It’ll be interesting to see how that increases competition in the mobile games arena across the spectrum. If anything it’ll at least bring us up to speed on what Japanese phones have been doing for years.

I don’t think it’ll take the throne away from Nintendo, they’re doing their own thing and are being rewarded for it with both the Wii and DS(which arguably are hitting the same chords as a typical iPod market.)

Well that and I’ll probably be getting Spore for just about everything. I’d also like to see EA bring stuff like MySims to the iPhone/iPod Touch.

21 John E { 03.20.08 at 3:09 pm }

tons of good info here, but one crucial aspect was not discussed at all: WHO is actually using these mobile gameplayers? Who will want to buy Apple’s? makes a big difference in their sales potential.

i see mainly pre-teen kids using the Nintendo DS (and Gameboy as the entry level for kindergarten). makes sense since it is the lowest priced. parents buy them for their kids, knowing they may be get busted/lost.

are parents going to buy these younger kids a Touch (forget iPhone) instead at a significantly higher price? No.

Sony PSP i see mainly ‘tweens and teens using. then at some point they focus more on serious console gaming. this group also buys tons of iPods.

will they upgrade to iPod Touch (and the iPhone for the rich kids)? the ones that can afford it might, but not the others. we’ll see …

the iPhone/Touch instead are really aimed at the 18+ age group for whom an extra $100 – $200 to buy it is not a big deal. college kids of course are a huge market. so big potential sales for Apple there. then gameplaying drops off and changes in taste as ages get older, (i’ve never seen gameplaying charted by age/platform – anyone know a link?) less shooters, more puzzles etc. i would think people over [18? 21? 25? 30?] are much more likely to buy an iPhone/Touch than a PSP for their own use. we’ll see …

point is, because of the very consequential age differences among the DS, PSP and iPhone/Touch user-driven market segments, Apple really is not competing with those older platforms as much as Dan’s article implies.

instead, Apple and its game developers are opening up a new and older mobile gaming market segment. similar to the way Nintendo’s Wii found a new console market for adults, including even baby boomers. how that turns out, we’ll see …

22 Llydis { 03.20.08 at 3:23 pm }

DS is actually across the spectrum of age because of the amount of titles it offers that don’t really fit anywhere else.

Case: My sister, who is 35, has never wanted a portable game system before DS. But, she wanted a DS because of the games like Brain Age and Flash Focus.

There could be an appeal for games like MySims and Spore for iPhone/Touch since they’re simply games you can play for a few minutes, put down, and get back to where you were pretty easily. Obviously not more in depth games like RPGs and the like, but it could be surprising if that does happen.

The reason Nintendo is successful right now is because they saw that trend and started making games that catered to it, much to the chagrin of people who traditionally play games, that are easy to get into and out of.

Even their new Mario game fit the model pretty well, even though it’s more in depth than Wii Sports or Big Brain Academy.

23 johnnyapple { 03.20.08 at 3:39 pm }

I can’t believe nobody else said this … Like the iPhone itself, the SDK and gaming are, well, a game changer.

Nice article. I’m not much of a gamer but will almost certainly a few for my iPhone.

24 davebarnes { 03.20.08 at 4:02 pm }

Personally, I would think that the worst game console of all time would be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_(game_system)

25 Llydis { 03.20.08 at 5:11 pm }

Which is aptly named.

26 Sai { 03.20.08 at 5:18 pm }

@John E

One thing that most people fail to remember is that the 30+ age group grew up with the original NES in their living rooms. Their used to a games console as part of their normal lives and are far more receptive to using their iPhone or iPod Touch as a games platform. And this includes a wide range of games rather than the brain puzzlers usually relegated to the “old geezers” demographic.

27 Robb { 03.20.08 at 5:24 pm }

@dicklacara
I know, I know… I’m just teasing Dan because we tend to divide the world into “good guys” and “bad guys” with regards to the Mac community. Sony gets to wear the white hat when facing off with Microsoft in the PS vs. Xbox scrap and then switches to a black hat when it’s the Walkman vs. the iPod or Sony Entertainment vs. iTunes.

My first thought of the iPhone squaring off with the DS and the PSP is that it would be no contest. This is what Nintendo and Sony do for a living and with Apple… games only seem to be (at best) a hobby.

But the SDK and the prospect of being in on something new and exciting could really be a game changer. Game developers that won’t build for the Mac because of the small gaming population, might jump at the chance to get their game on the iPhone. It almost makes the iPhone (or iPod Touch) a console of the Mac itself, while still being in essence, a Mac.

28 danieleran { 03.20.08 at 6:03 pm }

@ Jfatz:
Microsoft has dumped ~24 billion into home/consumer electronics, the largest portion of which has gone into gaming initiatives. That includes the money invested, not just the operating loss. It does not have that much to show for its efforts.

While I noted that the console makers in general relied on software licensing to ‘keep their heads above the water,’ I specifically noted that “Nintendo has also worked to sell its consoles at a profit while also earning software licensing revenues.”

If you want to talk about sound quality of the iPod vs the DS and PSP, I don’t think you’ll find that the iPod comes up short. Plug some headphones into a $129 DS.

As for iPod Games: remember that the tremendous acceleration in iPod sales has resulted in the first four generations of iPods being nearly statistically irrelevant to the installed base, particularly when you consider that they last for about 2-3 years.

That means of the 150 million iPods sold, over 100 million were sold in 2006 and 2007 (!). The G5 iPod started selling in late 2005, and has made up around 50% of sales according to analyst figures. The Video Nano also plays games, meaning that the majority of iPods sold this winter are game-playing. The percentage of iPods that can’t play games is quickly dropping. There is simply no need for Apple to try to figure out how to support gaming on earlier 3G/4G iPod models, which lack the video hardware available in the 5G version (which, incidentally, is why they can’t play videos either).

Going forward, Apple will continue to sell video iPods that support existing games, but will also be transitioning iPod buyers to the new OS X / Cocoa Touch platform, which already includes 4.5 Million iPhones and likely another 4-6 million iPod Touch. By the end of 2008, the Cocoa Touch platform will likely reach an installed base of ~40 million units (15 million iPhones + 25 million Touch). That’s actually a conservative estimate.

29 jfatz { 03.20.08 at 6:24 pm }

@danieleran

(re: Microsoft and “billions”) – I thought that might be what you were insinuating, at which point I simply disagree with labelling it as “losing tens of billions.” No one talks about startup capital as a “loss” if that investment leads to later profits. (Though they may mention it as a factor to comparing returns.) I don’t really think a statement like “losing tens of billions” in that context without it implying gross profit/loss at the VERY least. (The way most companies list it, usually gross over net, but still dealing with profit/loss, not all the “costs” while ignoring all the revenue.)

My main point regarding Nintendo is that their “software licensing revenue” is more icing on the cake. It’s not just that they’re not selling their hardware at a notable loss for increased sales like Microsoft and Sony, but the vast majority of software sales comes from sales of their OWN software, not licensing to 3rd parties. MS and Sony each have their own 1st party titles (and you can count 2nd party titles, I guess, since they publish a lot more than they internally develop)–some of them excellent performers–but the comparison to Nintendo is almost irrelevant. Nintendo made almost as much profit on the Gamecube as Sony did on the PS2 (last time I ran the numbers, at least. The PS2 is still pulling in revenue), and the Gamecube was NOTORIOUSLY panned by 3rd party developers. It was all their own games on their own platform, to less than 1/5th the installed base.

As well, I wasn’t thinking any of the three would necessarily come up notably short in regards to speakers/sound/headphones; I just think it’s a good thing to compare on a meaty spec breakdown.

I wish I had more time to go into the “analysis” and “conjecture” post I wanted to make before, but I’m waiting on someone to go on an emergency call to Boston. No time to write all that up now. *sigh*

I wish I had an iPhone, so I could do it at the hotel! ;-)

30 Argosy { 03.20.08 at 6:43 pm }

Daniel,

I frequent your site often and love reading your well thought out pieces.

One thought I had about game control, I’m sure using the Home button for game control will not be allowed by Apple ( for obvious UI reasons) but no one has mentioned anything about the answer/end call button on the iPhone headphones. Do you suppose this could be in orporated as a game input device (as a “fire” button)? Unfortunately, I don’t think Otis included on the Touch’s headphones. Anyway, something to hunk about.

31 Argosy { 03.20.08 at 8:00 pm }

Let’s see my above post should read:

…One thought I had about game control. I’m sure using the Home button for game control will not be allowed by Apple (for obvious UI reasons “Home” should always mean HOME) but no one has mentioned anything about the answer/end call button on the iPhone headphones. Do you suppose this could be incorporated as a game input device (for instance, a “fire” button)? Unfortunately, I don’t think this is included on the Touch’s headphones. Anyway, something to think about.

32 John E { 03.20.08 at 11:54 pm }

In standard accounting, R&D expenditures on any product are “amortized” in installments as annual expenses over a period of years that is supposed to correspond to the lifetime of the product. just like a capital expenditure in buying physical equipment or property is depreciated gradually over its useful lifetime.

so both Apple and MS ultimately do count all their R&D costs on a product as expenses that reduce net profit, just not all at once in a single year.

for consumer tech products, i’d have to think 5 years is about the limit for amortizing R&D.

but corporate tax accounting is much more convoluted. there are so many tricks in that game for R&D that you need a specialist to figure it out. all meant of course to avoid paying tax. and there might even be credits! if they come out ahead tax wise writing all the cost off in one year, that’s what they’ll do.

33 Cataclysm { 03.21.08 at 1:49 am }

This is the worst article I have seen on this site (which is beginning to make me question the validity of the other articles).

The article makes the standard errors of game analysis: focusing on hardware, not focusing on users, putting in the stock narratives of ’1983 Crash’, Nintendo’s ‘control’ during the NES days (for crying out loud, that is over two decades ago), and so on. Daniel doesn’t usually talk about gaming so the standard errors are pretty typical and can be forgiven.

Gaming is not in the technology business. It is in the entertainment business. Technology isn’t going to mean a hill of beans. People play ‘games’. They do not play ‘architecture’.

Games on ipods have always been a joke in the Gaming Industry. The biggest problem is the interface (which creates poor experiences). The $5 software is not attractive to third parties. It is difficult enough to gain profit from handheld gaming. There is a reason why there is only a like a dozen games available for the ipod despite its user base.

In order to win in an entertainment business (which is what gaming is), you must create superior customer experiences. How in the world can a phone create a better gaming experience than hardware designed around games? It simply can’t. The games will always feel a little clunky. No one is going to buy an iphone for games.

I don’t think Daniel realizes why Apple’s business model will bar them from making any inroads into gaming (aside from the obvious ones above such as the hardware not being designed for gaming). Game machines attract third parties by its user base. Developing a game is extremely more difficult than developing other software (why? because games are in the entertainment business which is far tougher to crack as it is based entirely on user emotion, not utilization.). Game software also requires top notch controls and presentation (far beyond other software). This requires talent and money to be invested. Why on earth would any company invest that for a $5 game for a platform that wasn’t bought for gaming?

There will be a few ‘token’ games out for the iphone. But the reality is that the only real companies who will put games out for it are those who cannot compete on the dedicated game machines. And the companies who cannot compete or have the money to make standard games on the dedicated machines are being snapped up by WiiWare, PSN, and XboxLive Arcade.

“Further, because Apple is attaching game development as a sidecar dessert on top of a device that is primarily monetized as a hardware sale (boosted by retail and accessory sales, media sales, and carrier revenue sharing), developers will get more bang from their buck and will incur less risk developing games for the iPhone.”

Wrong. It is more risky. Developing games for the DS and you are competing with just other DS games. For the Iphone, which people don’t buy for a game platform anyway, the limited entertainment dollars are being competed with music, movies, and other applications.

The purpose of iphone games is not to ‘rival’ Nintendo or Sony but to give additional value to the iphone. In the same way, the Weather Channel for Wii is not to rival weather news but to give additional value to Wii.

Both Nintendo and Apple adopt the Blue Ocean Strategy.

In order to go anywhere in the game industry, you must have an integrated hardware and software dedicated for gaming. Apple’s iphone is integrated but was not built for gaming. Apple also lacks first party studios to create the game software to drive adoption.

34 danieleran { 03.21.08 at 2:28 am }

Interestingly, Microsoft splits out major R&D, advertising and monopoly payments into its Other category, so the massive losses the company has suffered in its consumer products division only relate to hardware failures.

Also, FYI, the “second party” is you the buyer, so “second party software” would be software you write yourself. The first party is the original seller and third parties are those that are outside the buyer and seller.

35 danieleran { 03.21.08 at 5:23 pm }

@ catacylsm: Please site the problems you suffered in reading the article. The licensing business model of Nintendo vs Atari is relevant, and interesting because Apple is doing something that is somewhere in between: restricting development like Nintendo, but leaving the market more open like Atari. That is something new and noteworthy; Sony and Microsoft only copied Nintendo, and have done a poor job of doing anything other than gaining market share at the expense of profits.

Gaming is indeed a tech business, but as I pointed out, Nintendo has proven to be quite successful in delivering playability vs high tech. The only major misstep was the GameCube, which was too limited in gaming content for buyers to like. Every other Nintendo console has similarly been nothing exceptional compared to rivals, but has still done fairly well, or in the case of handhelds, exceptionally well.

iPod Games are not a joke in the industry. They are a free add-on that is making Apple and 3rd parties enough money–even at $5 each–to result in continued expansion of the program. There are regular new games being rolled out by significant developers: EA, Sega, etc. Do you think Apple is losing money hand over fist from its gaming program like Microsoft? If so, you’re wrong.

You puff a lot about how nobody will be interested in iPhone games. Clearly, you are wrong. If there was no interest, there wouldn’t be a long list of interested parties getting started. EA wouldn’t be describing the unit as a breakthrough in mobile gaming.

You compare the iPhone to Wii/PS3/XBL gaming. Why? That business is irrelevant to mobile gaming. There are millions of people buying iPhones and iPod touch units, and those people are a key market of people who pay for what they want. There will be virtually no piracy. The result: a living room console-type market paired with the future of highly mobile users.

Ask a few analysts about the future of smartphones and see if they think there’s any growth potential.

Seriously, do you really think that games developers will shun the iPhone because users are drawn to it for its media playback and other features?

Apple is a first party studio, and has commissioned a variety of games. It demonstrated its own iPhone game. There’s simply no comparison between games for the iPhone and games for other mobile platforms, or even the handheld consoles. Even more importantly, there’s a market for iPhone games, something that doesn’t exist for other smartphone platforms.

You are awfully dismissive of my comments, but they are really rather uncontroversial and obvious. Revisit this toward the end of the year and see if your mind changes.

36 Apple’s iPhone vs Smartphone Software Makers — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.22.08 at 1:06 am }

[...] Multitasking Myth iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP iPhone 2.0 SDK: Readers Write on Certificate [...]

37 iPhone 2.0 SDK: The No Multitasking Myth — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.22.08 at 1:06 am }

[...] Multitasking Myth iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP iPhone 2.0 SDK: Readers Write on Certificate [...]

38 iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.22.08 at 1:08 am }

[...] Multitasking Myth iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP iPhone 2.0 SDK: Readers Write on Certificate [...]

39 News, News, News and More News - MacTalk Forums { 03.22.08 at 7:08 am }

[...] I saw Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone. “Eat that DS Lite!” I shouted loudly to myself, internally. Dan at RoughlyDrafted takes a more in depth look at the iPhone and iPod Touch’s future as a gaming p…. And lastly, something mildly Mac related, but none the less super exciting – new Futurama movie! [...]

40 Jeff56 { 03.22.08 at 8:58 am }

Nintendo Gamecube isn’t Nintendo’s only mistake. N64 didn’t do a whole lot better, and the Virtual Boy sold a tiny percent compared to those two systems.

41 iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming | Apple Blog { 03.22.08 at 11:59 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

42 iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming { 03.22.08 at 12:00 pm }

[...] under: Analysis / Opinion, Gaming, Multimedia, Apple, iPhoneRoughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems [...]

43 iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming · dulaiwan.cn { 03.22.08 at 12:03 pm }

[...] under: Analysis / Opinion, Gaming, Multimedia, Apple, iPhoneRoughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems [...]

44 iPhone and Touch to Become Top of the Line Mobile Gaming System in June | Touch Podium { 03.22.08 at 12:06 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted Magazine wrote up a nice post on how the iPhone’s SDK has the potential to transform the iPhone and Touch into top of the line mobile gaming systems – literally. [...]

45 Comparing the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and Apple iPhone / Touch | Touch Podium { 03.22.08 at 12:16 pm }

[...] Roughtly Drafted Magazine) Related Stories:March 22, 2008 — iPhone and Touch to Become Top of the Line Mobile Gaming System [...]

46 BlogTrage » iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming { 03.22.08 at 2:24 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

47 Llydis { 03.22.08 at 3:04 pm }

It’s hard for a lot of people who play games to fathom the idea of gaming platforms or genres that don’t cater to their demands.

Nintendo has taken a lot of heat for their strategy in making games that appeal to the broad spectrum of… um… humanity while seemingly ignoring, to the players, the people who can sit for hours at a time with a game.

It’s weird, video game players want their hobby to be seen as normal but want to exclude everyone else when their esoteric niche is being threatened by girls or other social cliques you’re supposed to grow out of after high school.

(For the life of me, I could never understand why Penny Arcade seems upset with the concept of Spore.)

48 Is the iPhone the Next Gaming Platform? : iPhone { 03.23.08 at 12:28 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted Magazine has writen an excellent piece examining this very argument.  The article argues that iPhone 2.0, with the addition of the iPhone SDK, will present a gaming platform that might even rival the great Nintendo Gameboy / DS family. [...]

49 iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming at Stephen Chinnadorai { 03.23.08 at 4:03 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted has posted a long, in-depth analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device – they bring up a lot of great reasons for the iPhone to become a great gaming device. The iPhone has an amazing amount of processing and graphics power for a mobile phone, comparable to any of Nokia’s gaming phones, but not quite up-to-scratch with dedicating gaming device, Sony PSP. Apple’s recently announced SDK also looks promising to game developers that want to turn their game ideas into reality on an iPhone or iPod Touch. [...]

50 Podcast: Flash and Java on iPhone — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.23.08 at 5:15 pm }

[...] More on the iPhone 2.0 SDK iPhone 2.0 SDK: The No Multitasking Myth iPhone 2.0 SDK: Java on the iPhone? iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signed Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP [...]

51 iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming :: FULL clout { 03.23.08 at 7:53 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

52 Mac Nyheter - Hanfelt IT » Blog Archive » Iphone tar över spelmarknaden? { 03.24.08 at 4:25 am }

[...] Det kan mycket väl bli så RoughlyDrafted har skrivit en lång artikel om detta som ni kan läsa här.. [...]

53 iPhone Cheats » Blog Archive » iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming { 03.24.08 at 7:06 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

54 The iPhone Has the Potential To Take Over Handheld Gaming « vashNYC { 03.24.08 at 12:20 pm }

[...] iPhone Has the Potential To Take Over Handheld Gaming Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming [...]

55 jfatz { 03.24.08 at 5:49 pm }

“Also, FYI, the “second party” is you the buyer, so “second party software” would be software you write yourself. The first party is the original seller and third parties are those that are outside the buyer and seller.”

To my knowledge, the only way “second party” gets used in relation to the console gaming business is to distinguish it from first- and third-party developers, as they’re technically third parties but act like first parties. (Tied to one platform through their own interest, partnerships, publishing, various IP deals, etc.) It doesn’t seem to be an industry term in any real technical sense.

We are referring specifically to console manufacturers and all their splintered development, however, so it’s a safe-enough term to use when referring to Sony or Nintendo and the games they develop internally, own, commission, publish, etc. (From a revenue standpoint, it’s effectively the same for them. I would only count “software licensing fees” as coming from third parties, not from first-party or “second-party” releases. Hence my distinguishing between them.)

56 Nmancer’s TekLog » Blog Archive » iPhone Has The Potential To Take Over Handheld Gaming { 03.24.08 at 11:06 pm }

[...] iPhone Has The Potential To Take Over Handheld Gaming Mar24 24 March 2008, nmancer @ 8:06 pm Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems [...]

57 Awesome and innovative games are coming { 03.25.08 at 4:13 am }

[...] Time to dial up the hyperbole, but not quite to the level seen with Roughly Drafted’s take on iPhone gaming. Am I being blindly optimistic or is there something to back this [...]

58 Cataclysm { 03.25.08 at 8:07 am }

“The licensing business model of Nintendo vs Atari is relevant, and interesting because Apple is doing something that is somewhere in between: restricting development like Nintendo, but leaving the market more open like Atari.”

Please tell me you are not this naive. Not only are you applying a business model from over two decades ago, you aren’t even getting it right. There are many myths about what went on in the NES days.

Nintendo’s solution to the Atari crash was not the limiting of 5 games a year but the copyright ‘scan’ that was the ‘lockout’ chip. The biggest bottleneck in those times were cartridges (as every cartridge had to be made by Nintendo) and when a chip shortage came the licensees suffered as they couldn’t sell as much software as they wanted to.

If companies had to use iphone cartridges that could only be made by Apple, you might have a point back in that time. But I doubt that is what you meant.

What you are referring to is the myth that Nintendo’s ‘Seal of Quality’ meant Nintendo managing the library for quality. No such thing ever existed. As proof, look at the NES library and you will find most of the games to be horrible if not complete garbage. Nintendo never cared what licensees did with their games so long as Nintendo got its share (hence the lock-out chip) and there was nothing on the game that could tarnish the console’s image (such as adult rated material or religion).

Sega and Nintendo were content have companies come to them (for they saw it that they made the market). Sony changed the strategy significantly. Sony went out of its way to throw out every software it could. This meant the Playstation library was extremely large with TONS of garbage. However, in entertainment you never know where the next big hit will come from. The larger the library, the more probability for surprise hits. One PC port, Grand Theft Auto, was always there. The third incarnation suddenly rocketed the Playstation 2 hardware up with it. Starting with DS and then Wii, Nintendo altered its strategy to be super aggressive in getting as much software as possible for its platform. This is the real reason why DS and Wii have maintained its high sales.

Is Apple doing this? No. Why? Because Apple doesn’t know how to make a dedicated games platform. Console industry is cut-throat. Apple couldn’t afford the risk.

“Gaming is indeed a tech business, but as I pointed out, Nintendo has proven to be quite successful in delivering playability vs high tech.”

It sounds like you stopped reading game industry history after the NES. Nintendo was always involved in high tech wars including the 16-bit War with its SNES, the N64 with graphics from Silicon Graphics, to Gamecube whose graphics surpassed that of PS2 and pretty much matched the Xbox. The Industry calls these periods the console wars.

With the DS and Wii, Nintendo has altered its strategy and is pursuing a more blue ocean strategy/ Christensen disruption to the market. Aside from DS and Wii, Nintendo did focus on ‘technology’ which is why their market share kept shrinking. Even the NES was designed to be graphically superior to competitors in Japan.

Since you think I am full of “Puff”, I recommend that you read a speech that the President of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime, made which outlines certain basic behaviors in the handheld gaming market: http://www.pgnx.net/articles.php?page=full&id=5657

“There are regular new games being rolled out by significant developers: EA, Sega, etc.”

And how is this different from other phones? Do you think these games will be made by first string teams or fourth string teams? If you say first string, hehe… And LOL at Sega, they have been going downhill fast lately. Companies such as Sega are in a money crisis so they are porting Sonic the Hedgehog to every platform on Earth.

“Do you think Apple is losing money hand over fist from its gaming program like Microsoft? If so, you’re wrong.”

You cannot compare the two as Apple does not make dedicated game hardware. Also, Microsoft’s losses come from game hardware, not game software (which they do make money from). Apple is only making game software; Apple isn’t making game hardware.

Again, the game console business is cut-throat. You are either making billions of profit or billions of losses. Only one console company still exists: Nintendo. Sony, now that it is on a losing trend, is raking in billions of losses which they have to turn it around. Microsoft, like Sony, is using other divisions to keep their game console afloat.

“Clearly, you are wrong. If there was no interest, there wouldn’t be a long list of interested parties getting started. EA wouldn’t be describing the unit as a breakthrough in mobile gaming.”

EA says that about every new platform they sign up on. It is just standard PR speak. Would you expect EA to say anything different?

“You compare the iPhone to Wii/PS3/XBL gaming. Why? That business is irrelevant to mobile gaming.”

You’re very new to game industry analysis so I’ll be gentle. Mobile gaming, including cell phone gaming, attracts smaller companies. This is because game development costs on consoles have risen to astronomical heights. Costs have even risen on handhelds. But more important, the retail business model also makes many games too risky except the most surest franchises.

Small companies were beginning to spread their wings on cell phone games and, maybe, a new Tetris would have been born. Since WiiWare, PSN, and Xbox Live Arcade, the big three console makers have been aggressively taking the most promising of these companies to make games for their service. This means the ‘next Tetris’ is less likely to appear on a cell phone and more likely to appear on one of these services. These small companies happily sign up with one of the console manufacturers because the entire installed base are gamers and are looking to buy games. They will sell more software there than on any cell phone or ipod.

“The result: a living room console-type market paired with the future of highly mobile users.”

Hahaha

“Ask a few analysts about the future of smartphones and see if they think there’s any growth potential.”

There is always ‘growth potential’. That is why things like the i-phone get the token support. But the real business is going to be on the dedicated machines.

“Seriously, do you really think that games developers will shun the iPhone because users are drawn to it for its media playback and other features?”

Have you SEEN the abysmal PSP TIE ratio? Do you have any idea of the PSP software sales?

“You are awfully dismissive of my comments, but they are really rather uncontroversial and obvious. Revisit this toward the end of the year and see if your mind changes.”

I know you deal with many trolls and obnoxious critics so you have a pattern to critical replies. I’m actually trying to help out because the Game Industry is a very different beast than what you’ve been studying. When I started, I also got sliced to ribbons.

One thing I can say that you’ll probably agree with me is that the Game Industry attracts lots of attention and analysis from various analysts to the gamers themselves. Game Industry is one of the few industries I know where customers regularly check sales numbers and watch what executives say like a hawk.

Step outside the Apple-sphere and post this… ‘article’… on any major gaming forum. Watch the reactions. You’ll get many people sounding like me.

59 buzz { 03.25.08 at 8:24 am }

iPhone v. Nintendo DS, Sony PSP (Roughly Drafted)…

Ενδιαφέρουσα ανάλυση για τις προοπτικές του iPhone 2.0 σαν φορητή παιχνιδομηχανή….

60 jfatz { 03.25.08 at 10:53 am }

You’re missing one extremely large thing, Cataclysm… No mobile platform right now–not the DS, not the PSP, not any mobile phone–does casual gaming well. None.

And by “casual” I don’t mean simply a puzzle game or any other game with simple mechanics, because there are plenty of those around, but rather free or “cheap-as-free” games like the ones millions of people waste a whole lot of time with on PC.

Every other device has a barrier of entry: The DS and PSP distribute physically and expensively ($20 is the absolute minimum for games to start at, and most hover around $30 or above); other mobile phones tend to have crappy screens (with no adoptable standard), crappy processors (with no adoptable standard), and crappy controls (with no adoptable standard), making any kind of game development a splintered, lowest-common-denominator mess. (Distribution also completely blows, though at least it can be done on the fly.)

The iPhone and iPod Touch have the DS and PSP advantage of brand reputation, capable hardware and unified standards (as well as processing advantage over the DS, display advantage over both, and both input advantages [more touch surface, other included input sensors] and disadvantages [lack of physical buttons and potentially cutting into screen space for dedicated controls]), but also the cell phone advantages the DS and PSP do not have like low cost and intrinsic, wherever-you-are distribution (The iPod Touch less than the iPhone, though). They also have their own unique features like omnipresent wireless features, automatic updating, and ease of web-based promotion. Above and beyond that, they also have the APPLE advantages of marketing, design, software development (not talking about just games here) and electronic distribution prowess which they’ve had up and running for years with tremendously high volume.

Only the PSP is STARTING to try this out, with a storefront you can access through the PC or PS3 and offering $5-10 games, and the shakiness and inconvenience shows. (Sony and Nintendo seem more focused on how to try to get retro games playing on all their devices.)

The iPhone and iPod Touch are blowing out of the gates for completely different reasons, and have the AUTOMATIC advantage of being able to distribute for free, which is going to spawn a tremendous amount of interest. (It also has “no cost to you” demo distribution for free, because while Apple seems to have no “time delay, remote revocation” system in place right now, all a developer has to do is create a “not the full game” build, label it “demo,” and have Apple distribute it for free.)

Basically, what the Apple products are getting in front of is what reflects WEB development and the immensely popular casual games those involve, and the vast majority of those are simple click-and-drag, or one-or-two-button affairs. It does have a hurdle to cross since the majority of those games are also Flash/Java (unless Adobe and Sun can build shell loaders or something, letting you create an online reference link or download games locally and play them through the specific loader app), but those are EXACTLY the kinds of games the largest number of consumers would be interested in skimming through to find some they like.

Card games, puzzle games, the popular “tower defense” types… just about everything would be easy to move over, would bring constant traffic to your website, but would cost you no extra bandwidth for the game itself… $1 and $2 charges could redefine “impulse buy,” and $5-10 games would likely be the mainstay rather than the exceptions. Popular-enough and complex-enough titles can charge their own price on top of that, and probably make a even more from their 70% cut than they would through conventional means. (Extra marketing would be the only other cost on their end, and they could even save on that by working out more innovative and web-based methods.)

Basically, just as the Wii started expanding the market to new customers who’ve never owned a console before (or who haven’t been interested in generations), the iPhone and iPod Touch (and whatever follows) are perfectly positioned to do the same thing in the mobile market. Want a puzzle game to while away the time on the train? See what’s in the App Store. Interested in a multiplayer Scrabble or Bridge app? See what’s in the App Store, and test if the free versions are better than the $1 ones or $5 ones. See an interesting game or app referred or reviewed on someone’s blog? Click a link and go to it in the App Store immediately, rather than try to remember what it’s called and look it up at home if you think about it.

The iPhone is simply changing the overall game, grabbing every advantage of other cell phone mobile games but expanding them and being better than them in every way, while NOT operating at a serious gaming deficit compared to the DS or PSP, and WHILE tapping the immense popularity of the iPod platform, iTunes media distribution, and Apple’s mindshare and development expertise.

They’re starting off strong, positioned well to bring in volume, and even if it’s a volume of free gaming and apps, it’s still a volume of eyeballs willing to try and buy YOUR games and apps, and route it through YOUR website and online revenue stream if you’re clever enough to manage it. It will build from the bottom up, instead of “exactly what everyone expects” and trying to slap on new features and new possibilities in slapdash, half-hearted attempts. It’s also easily recognizable as a direction the whole gaming industry–but most especially portables–ARE moving to embrace, and we’ve seen what happens in certain industries when Apple gets there first, and does it their way… ;-)

Will they in the future extend the same games and software through their computers, and through AppleTV to your living room? (Heck, could that be possible with the current SDK?!) The SDK can change over time to offer more features on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well, so the future seems rather extensible since it can involve other devices you already own, rather than other consoles you purchased because you like Nintendo or Sony gaming. Apple still sells more computers than Sony does PS3′s even with the much higher price point, and a good portion of them are mobile platforms as well, which no PS3 or Wii is. Windows PC-wise, of course, there’s no comparison, and iTunes AND Safari AND whatever else they’d need would have no problems running there. And while the AppleTV has unknown popularity right now, it can still offer an Apple-specific extension into the living room at a cheaper price point than the volume-pushing Wii.

Basically, Apple has a lot more they CAN tap and push in the future, and they move a whole lot faster and adroitly than Nintendo or Sony or Microsoft in this fashion, so any success compounds.

Even as a gamer and owner of just about any platform, while I know that the iPhone and iPod Touch are not going to provide everything I want, I freely note that an iPhone would always BE with me, while I have to think about bringing my DS or PSP along with me, and choose what titles to bring along, etc. (I know I could hack them to get around some of those limitations, but I don’t really want to have to…) And the iPhone is best-positioned to deliver the kind of impulse games, pick-and-choose selection, always-with-me convenience, and entertainment-for-my-dollar to put a tight squeeze on the other options I’m already eminently familiar with.

…and we’re not done with Year One yet.

61 im spielemarkt { 03.26.08 at 6:14 am }

[...] wirklich interessanten Artikel gibt es im RoughlyDrafted Magazine, der aufzeigt das Apple nicht mehr den Spiele-Markt für den iPodTouch / iPhone ignoriert, jedoch [...]

62 videogaming247 » Blog Archive » iPhone specs compare favourably to DS and PSP { 03.26.08 at 6:21 am }

[...] spec comparison between the iPhone and its new gaming handheld rivals has been published, showing that iPhone stacks up extremely well in the hardware department when placed side by side [...]

63 phonglong.com » Blog Archive » iPhone funness { 03.26.08 at 3:19 pm }

[...] Some iPhone evangelism from our friends at Roughly Drafted Magazine [...]

64 iPhone a better gaming platform than DS/PSP? at QuicklyBored { 03.27.08 at 2:08 pm }

[...] killer? Or, at least, a strong competitor? The article springs from a lengthy and rather tech-heavy post by blogger Daniel Dilger. In it, he gives a brief history of the console and handheld gaming wars [...]

65 6-4 Dumb Man » iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming { 03.27.08 at 4:55 pm }

[...] iPhone, nintendo, nintendo-ds, platform, price, SDK, sony, sony-psp — ant @ 11:00 am Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems [...]

66 Apple iPhone News - iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming | iFones.com - Apple iPhone App Reviews { 03.27.08 at 9:51 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

67 iPhone has the potential to take by handheld gaming | Apple News { 03.28.08 at 10:21 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, towering analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let nearly anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

68 Ant the democratic movement » Blog Archive » iPhone has the potential to take over handheld gaming { 03.29.08 at 4:08 pm }

[...] Roughly Drafted has a nice, long analysis of the iPhone as a gaming device, and they hit on a lot of great reasons why the iPhone seems destined to be a great gaming platform. Not only will it have the hardware chops to play games (including a few input devices that no other handheld gaming consoles have ever had), but Apple’s SDK implementation, when it finally gets off the ground in June anyway, seems poised to let almost anyone develop any game ideas they have for the device. [...]

69 Ephilei { 03.30.08 at 8:40 pm }

A minor note: I’m wondering if the iPhone’s vibrator is accessible to the SDK and if that will be used for gameplay as it has in non-mobile consoles. Or the microphone?

With the emphasis on a consistent platform for 3rd party apps, I’m guessing that Touch v2 will become even more similar to the iPhone: camera and bluetooth and maybe a vibrator and microphone.

70 PSPCulture : A Sony Playstation Portable Fansite » Blog Archive » iPhone to compete with PSP and DS { 03.31.08 at 5:20 am }

[...] Roughly Drafted have got an interesting article of the future possibility of the iPhone (and the iTouch) being competitors to the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Portable. At first blush, one likely wouldn’t think of the iPhone as being in the same league as handheld gaming consoles. However, when Apple showcased a half dozen prototype apps at the SDK launch, fully half of them were games. Clearly, Apple isn’t going to be ignoring games on the iPhone. [...]

71 Klik » Blog Arkiv » iPhone er fremtidens GameBoy? { 04.01.08 at 3:50 am }

[...] mere om spil på iPhone kontra Ds og PSP her Se videoen af Super Monkey Ball på iPhone [...]

72 Planeta iPhone » Blog Archive » iPhone czy Sony PSP czy Nintendo DS?? { 04.02.08 at 10:22 am }

[...] gry na tą platformę może być ciekawie. Porównanie wszystkich trzech urządzeń zrobił serwis http://www.roughlydrafted.com Ja przytoczę tylko za serwisem psp-team.pl parametry [...]

73 ‘3D CAD op de iPhone is haalbaar’ » Nieuws » iPhoneclub.nl { 04.04.08 at 10:00 am }

[...] voor- en achteruit bewegen is allemaal mogelijk door de iPhone in de gewenste stand te bewegen. Het artikel op Roughly Drafted gaat vooral in op de kracht van de iPhone vergeleken met recente mobiele gameconsoles zoals PSP en [...]

74 raist3d { 05.02.08 at 3:53 pm }

As much as I have liked this website’s analysis on some things and subjects, all I can think when I read this article is “where do I start to pick this thing appart.” There are so many wrong assumptions, downright wrong facts here and then completely invalid conclusions that it’s not even funny.

First let me state it clear: yes, I think Apple has an interesting strategy here. What gets me is the “if the hardware is there they will come” anaylisis, and the incredible misunderstanding of the gaming business.

A quick example to show what I mean:

“That leaves the iPhone with an ideal CPU architecture for handheld gaming, and one familiar to existing smartphone developers. ” (in reference to using an ARM vs some of the competition like PSP).

First of all, it is the nature of console development that you develop on whatever machine comes out with whatever specs. There’s no major fears here of switching CPU’s, though keeping the CPU can be nice at times.

Second, the MIPS that you call so dead end (which btw, is still in development and used in many places) is one of the architectures most world-class developers are familiar with due to the insane installed base of the PS1 and the still living and selling PS2.

So, I am not saying this is a stumble for the iPhone because of that but I wanted to show the kind of faulty logic I am seeing throughout the article.

If you want to take a shot at PSP for familiarity, how about taking that shot to the iPhone with its PC/Dreamcast rejected PowerVR architecture, which does things that make some regular operations much more difficult to do (the PSP chip would crush the PowerVR doing some alpha blending operations for example).

BTW, I am not saying the PowerVR is a bad chip, nor am I saying that there aren’t advantages to it, I am just showing how the logic of the article is faulty and is used with rose-colored glasses on the Apple side of the coin, in a double-standard way.

Some other specs are flatout wrong – for example the PSP doesn’t have just one, but has two MIPS cores with a 128-bit memory bus (the ARM on the iPhone is 32 bit only if I remember correctly). Would you think this could make a difference when accessing some memory? You think?

The PSP has an FPU vector unit- this is something that on the iPhone appears to be missing. Do you think this can make a huge difference in 3d? Don’t you think?

And who told you that you can only play back “368×207 usable for video” for the PSP? This is also factually wrong. UMD’s play at the full screen resolution of the PSP- the machine is more than capable for doing it and they look *far better* than the iTunes stuff you normally download.

But let me raise another question here because again, it all seems like we are all focused on the hardware in the article and we are missing some important stuff here.

“The iPhone is in a significantly different class of performance, has far more internal resources for games, and is equipped with a variety of other hardware–from its camera to its ubiquitous”

And the iPhone is also (we again, questioned the ‘better than PSP performance’ earlier already), in a different class of price, and one of the things that affect sales of a console device a lot for games is exactly that- price.

The whole article seems to imply that having better hardware equates a an instant win. If anything has been shown this generation by Nintendo not only by the DS but by the Wii in particular is that *you don’t need the latest greatest hardware* to make a great gaming platform.

But the article charts forward, the iPhone is more powerfull, so it’s done.

Let’s continue looking at more claims…

“The iPhone’s development tools are more approachable to a wide audience of developers already familiar with the Mac, they’re significantly cheaper to obtain and get started with than other consoles,”

And how many of the well known established game developers develop games for Mac? What percentage is this vs the console world? Hmm let’s think about that one fast.. oh yeah, super small.

Again, this doesn’t mean that developer’s can’t come in to the iPhone, I am just pointing out the incredibly faultly logic at work here.

There’s two more things I want to touch on:

#1. the PSP is NOT running out of steam, in fact sales have been pickup. The article seems to suggests that somehow the PSP is on its way out, Sony being desperate to “use it before it runs out of steam.” With a machine like PSP in the mobile space you don’t need a replacement that fast (nor does NIntendo with its DS)

Just because you are selling 1/2 the DS doesn’t mean the PSP is not being very profitable. 33+ million units worldwide is not a small number.

#2. Where are the buttons and d-pad controls on the iPhone? Did anyone think about this when writting this article? Because I hate to break this to you but using a touch screen for all kinds of games out there, i.e. for “real games” that is all touch sucks in a major royal way.

If you don’t think this is true *you just don’t know games* – period.

This doesn’t mean you can’t do creative use of the touchscreen and for a lot of games the touch screen will be what the doctor ordered. But don’t write off this omission as trivial. This is major. It will force the iPhone platform to have a certain kind of game. I am not saying it can’t do well without it, but it is definitively a big cons comparing with the PSP/DS.

———-

And one more thing- whatever poster said that the Nintendo DS doesn’t do casual gaming well… you probably don’t even know what a Nintendo DS is. If anything Nintendo has accomplished with the DS/Wii this time around is expand the market to more casual type of experiences *particularly* with the DS. Check out things like Brain Age. In Japan there’s a title that teaches you manners (yes, how to eat with the silverware in the right order, etc.), another teaches you how to dress up properly for different ocassions and things like how to tie your tie and so on.

If that doesn’t seem casual for you….

75 danieleran { 05.03.08 at 3:26 pm }

@raist3d:

I appreciate your comments but I think you make broad generalizations that talk past the points I make.

The point is that there is a huge market behind ARM in mobile devices (compilers and other tools, chip architecture familiarity among people, and economies of scale that benefit production and ongoing investment), not that ARM is a brand name I’m dropping because I’ve heard of it and though it would be good to associate with Apple. I’m not a back of the magazine pundit.

You just made the point that the CPU doesn’t matter, because developers target whatever hardware is being sold. Now you say MIPS is significant in the future because it was used in previous generations of the PlayStation? Reconcile that before you hammer at my non-controversial point.
-
PowerVR is used on every mobile, and is the graphics architecture adopted by Intel’s Atom, if that matters (and the jury is still out on that one). I’m sure there may be better technologies one might be able to point to, but PowerVR is literally used in everything from car audio/video systems to iPods to smartphones. Future generations of PowerVR will add 3D shaders. Will gamers see any difference in the PSP vs the iPhone, or will they not even be comparing the two?

Where is the faulty logic again? From your own argument, developers target the hardware being sold, not the most ideal technologies. I agree. But if you think the MIPS PSP and its graphics are going to blow away the standard ARM/PowerVR architecture of the iPhone (and every other high end mobile) on their technical merits, I have a hard time understanding what exactly your position is. You can’t have it both ways. I’m only pointing out that Apple is currently in the advantage of being on top of the winning hardware, and not strugglingly to make sales of a device that is now four years old, and which has not seen any real exploitation of its advanced hardware anyway.
-
If you can provide a source for this I’d be happy to correct any error I’ve made. I never intentionally present false information, and am happy to accept corrections.
-
Yes the iPhone (and iPod Touch) costs more than the PSP. However, it cost FAR less than a PSP + a Sony Ericsson phone. If your phone can play console style games, you are less likely to need a separate device to play movies and games. Additionally, the price difference between a PSP and an iPod Touch is not really that significant, as the market is showing.

“The whole article seems to imply that having better hardware equates a an instant win. If anything has been shown this generation by Nintendo not only by the DS but by the Wii in particular is that *you don’t need the latest greatest hardware* to make a great gaming platform.”

No, that’s not what the article says at all. In fact, I actually pointed out that Nintendo’s success was rarely based on the best hardware, but rather a great overall package. That’s what Apple has. The article only pointed out that the current 2007 hardware in the iPhone was significantly better than the 2004 hardware put into the “designed to be cheaper” handheld game consoles, something that seems counter-intuitive yet should be obvious.
-
“And how many of the well known established game developers develop games for Mac? What percentage is this vs the console world? Hmm let’s think about that one fast.. oh yeah, super small.”

And how many desktop software packages are available for the PSP? Even the PS3/360/Wii only have a crappy web browser. Apple has ridiculously slick dev tools on the Mac, and adapting them to make games on the iPhone (where there is tremendous demand as I pointed out) will not only give Apple’s mobiles an edge among handheld gaming, but will likely also bring attention to the sorry game development status quo on the Mac.

“Again, this doesn’t mean that developer’s can’t come in to the iPhone, I am just pointing out the incredibly faultly logic at work here.”

Well please repeat your faulty logic complaints, because so far, all I’ve seen is circular, contradictory complaints about insignificant details.
-
Numbers of sales is not necessarily a measure of profitability, but PSP numbers are not great, and have long been disappointing. It’s now four years old and has significant competition. It did nothing to offset iPod sales, despite having a nicer screen and many other features. As it gets cheaper to build, it will likely continue to sell in quantity just like the old PS2 still sells into the millions. It’s not leading the market in any metric however, and one can’t expect 4 year old hardware to do this.

The iPhone isn’t attempting to be a conventional game device, and given the PSP’s lackluster sales, that strategy would have been stupid. The iPhone has positional controls and a fully configurable touch pad. Maybe you’ll hate it, but I’m not recommending that you buy one to play games. I’m only pointing out that shitloads of people will buy games for the phone they already own, and that will greatly expand the gaming market in the same way that the Wii has expanded gaming outside the basement of nerds who have mastered a controller with two dozen buttons.

76 raist3d { 05.03.08 at 5:29 pm }

Testing.. I am trying to post from my MacBook Pro w/ Safari (latest everything) but seems like it’s not getting through…

77 raist3d { 05.03.08 at 6:11 pm }

Given that I could not post exactly the reply I wanted, I am trying to be more concise, use less formatting so the website accepts the post.

I ask readers when they read this, to think in the context of Daniel’s last reply to me and the article.

Key points-

- If you use the ARM cpu familiarity as an argument, then *you can’t slam the PSP for having a MIPS processor* because it would also benefit from that as tons of game developers are familiar with MIPS due to ps2/ps1/N64
- And yes I said that in the end this point is irrelevant, but I am pointing out that you don’t follow the necessary conclusion on the PSP side using your logic, and you can’t have that both ways
- That the specs of the PSP you posted are incomplete and also factually wrong.
- That the iPhone having better or comparable hardware for games is into question
- Moreover after finding triangle rates and polygon fillrate I would now dare say the PSP is actually BETTER for many types of games than the iPhone *if* we are going to use hardware superiority as a metric (this is a new point)
The triangle rate on the best case for better PowerVR MBX, is 4.45 times the powerVR and 1.10 times in fillrate (and this is a best case).

- That in the end hardware superiority does not equate platform degree of success, at least directly, as Nintendo has shown (but I did discuss hardware superiority as you brought it up in the article)
- That if the mobile games market you refer to is the casual games market that is there, then the PSP and DS don’t have much to worry about.
- That the PSP is getting more sales and more game software developer support in the last years, so support is increasing, not diminishing
- That the PSP has been hardly lackluster at this point- it’s the most successful handheld console after the DS in the DS/PSP generation

There is ample evidence of this from review sites, the “first class” citizen console treatment the PSP gets, the amount of games and so on. Where do you get that the PSP is not doing well, doesn’t have support or such I don’t know.

Please understand this last point does not equal, in any shape or form to “iPod/iPhone will be held back by the PSP”. Completely independent non related points here and I am certainly not saying the one I just quoted, but I await if you think I did, where did I say so.

And I also did mention- that yes, I thin the iPhone/iPod platform is an interesting strategy for games as Apple is playing it, and that I see potential there for sure (and somehow you ignored I said this).

- Ricardo (raist)

78 raist3d { 05.03.08 at 6:12 pm }

Ok so it looks like the main issue was that the website couldn’t accept links that I was trying to provide (probably a spam saving feature).

The links where to the powerVR website and IGN for PSP tech specs.

79 10 best augmented reality DEVICES that will reinvent mobile video games « Games Alfresco { 05.13.08 at 3:07 am }

[...] iPhone The iPhone could surpass other game devices (Roughly Drafted Magazine ) Though considered a smart phone – owing to its unmatched user experience – the iPhone deserves its [...]

80 Predicting the next “killer” is for soothsayers and clairvoyants, not Forbes | Prodigeek { 06.06.08 at 12:01 pm }

[...] and EA were there to show off the first games for the platform. These high-profile releases led blogs to speculate on the iPhone’s potential as an actual handheld gaming [...]

81 WWDC 2008: iPhone G3 Revealed — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 06.09.08 at 11:30 pm }

[...] 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP Digital Legends Entertainment [...]

82 EA PLAY » Warum das iPhone als Spieleplattform nichts taugt { 07.02.08 at 1:31 pm }

[...] wo viele eine wahnsinnige Revolution wittern, gibt es doch in Wirklichkeit gar nichts zu sehen. Vom DS- und PSP-Killer ist da bereits die Rede, [...]

83 Cult of Mac - News and opinion about the Mac and iPod communities » Blog Archive » iPhone gaming: lack of controls? { 07.10.08 at 3:09 pm }

[...] extolling the virtues of the device, demoing a highly competent version of Super Monkey Ball, and reports suggest spec-wise that Apple’s hardware rivals Sony’s PSP and Nintendo’s DS, which are [...]

84 Mac Evangelism » iPhone gaming: lack of controls? { 07.10.08 at 3:18 pm }

[...] extolling the virtues of the device, demoing a highly competent version of Super Monkey Ball, and reports suggest spec-wise that Apple’s hardware rivals Sony’s PSP and Nintendo’s DS, which are [...]

85 Alternatives to the iPod Touch: Not Really « The Dead Dog Cafe 2.0 { 07.15.08 at 4:51 am }

[...] I also looked at the Nintendo DS Lite and Sony PSP, both of which can do VOIP calls.  Although they both would save you about $100, they are too crippled in areas other than gameplay to be comparable to the iPod Touch.  The Nintendo DS’s browser is slow, and the PSP has no keyboard equivalent or even a touchscreen, making email and web surfing infeasible.  In addition, they can’t even claim the advantage of being able to play better games than the iPod Touch, at least not for long.  Forbes points out how Apple could be successful in the mobile gaming market. Roughly Drafted agrees and goes into more depth. [...]

86 ¿CAD 3D en el iPhone? { 07.19.08 at 1:24 pm }

[...] Daniel Dilger explica en un artículo de la revista digital Roughly Drafted Magazine (en inglés) muchos aspectos técnicos del iPhone,  y por qué es superior a las dos consolas de [...]

87 Every Laptop Left Behind? « The Dead Dog Cafe 2.0 { 07.24.08 at 11:34 am }

[...] already cover.  If you don’t need any of this functionality or find the movies and bright future of gaming on an iPhone satisfactory, you could even get away with using only your handheld [...]

88 iPhone/iPod Touch as a portable game console « PDA Thoughts { 09.01.08 at 6:54 pm }

[...] mentioned its potential as a gaming platform. I saw this potential for the first time when reading an article about the SDK on RoughlyDrafted. Now that hundreds of games are available in the App Store, I feel like a kid in [...]

89 Five More iPhone Myths — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 10.03.08 at 1:33 am }

[...] iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP Apple’s New Dual Processor Game Console The Apple Video Game Development Myth [...]

90 Alternatives to the iPod Touch: Not Really « The Dead Dog Cafe 2.0 { 12.23.08 at 8:40 pm }

[...] I also looked at the Nintendo DS Lite and Sony PSP, both of which can do VOIP calls.  Although they both would save you about $100, they are too crippled in areas other than gameplay to be comparable to the iPod Touch.  The Nintendo DS’s browser is slow, and the PSP has no keyboard equivalent or even a touchscreen, making email and web surfing infeasible.  In addition, they can’t even claim the advantage of being able to play better games than the iPod Touch, at least not for long.  Forbes points out how Apple could be successful in the mobile gaming market. Roughly Drafted agrees and goes into more depth. [...]

91 iPhone “miles ahead” of competing app stores | Report | MyTriniPhone.com { 03.02.09 at 11:07 am }

[...] of consumer-oriented apps; Windows Mobile has very few serious gaming titles, for example. Gaming is a market promoted by Apple on the iPhone, in conjunction with iPod touch sales, both to take [...]

92 Report: iPhone “miles ahead” of competing app stores — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.04.09 at 6:57 pm }

[...] of consumer-oriented apps; Windows Mobile has very few serious gaming titles, for example. Gaming is a market promoted by Apple on the iPhone, in conjunction with iPod touch sales, both to take [...]

93 iPhone | Mobile phones { 04.23.09 at 8:15 am }

[...] iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP . Retrieved on [...]

94 Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s third failed attempt to be Apple — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.26.10 at 8:12 pm }

[...] iPhone 2.0 SDK: Video Games to Rival Nintendo DS, Sony PSP Microsoft’s money is not going to help Even if XNA was wonderful stuff, the fact that nobody has any good reason to buy a Zune or WP7 phone erases any potential for new games development. The reality that Microsoft spent somewhere close to $10 billion dollars erecting its minimally profitable Xbox franchise indicates that just because Microsoft is rich doesn’t mean that it can create success efficiently. [...]

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