iPhone 3G Puts Apple in the Game  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

RALEIGH, North Carolina - Apple Inc.'s new iPhone 3G and accompanying App Store is set to put the company known for technology innovation into another lucrative space—gaming.

Like iTunes, the App Store will allow users to easily buy and download games from publishers and developers while providing trailers, user-generated reviews and even some free game demos. There are already over 175 games available.

Neil Young, president of new iPhone-focused game development studio ngmoco, said iPhone users are spending over 60 percent of their time on the device on features other than phone calls.

"That's a really big deal because it's no longer just a phone. It's a media player, an Internet player, a camera and a games machine that also happens to make telephone calls," he said.

"Apple absolutely gets gaming with iPhone ... Just look at the air time that Apple is dedicating to games and that shows you that they consider games to be a key application for the device." Young left his job as head of Electronic Arts' Los Angeles studio, where he collaborated with Steven Spielberg on game projects like "Boom Blox" for Nintendo Co Ltd's Wii, to focus on creating original iPhone games, which are also playable on any iPod touch device.

"The things that are really exciting to us are games that take advantage of not just the iPhone's accelerometer (a tilting mechanism) or the touch screen, but media that exists on the device and the fact there's a camera and GPS there," he added.

"We can bring awesome gameplay mechanics together with these new technologies and build gaming experience that frankly no one has experienced before."

CALLING THE GAME

EA Mobile has a trio of casual-focused launch titles for iPhone—Tetris, EA Sudoku, and Scrabble—as well as an exclusive iPhone version of "Spore" shipping September 7, which will allow players to navigate a one-celled organism through the game world by simply tilting the screen. Creating new species is done by touching the screen.

"Games are the obvious next step for the iPhone's entertainment capabilities," said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios for EA Mobile.

"The platform gives consumers a very in-depth game experience in terms of sheer horsepower and graphics capabilities."

In terms of performance, the iPhone has the visual fidelity of Sony Corp's PSP and the performance of a Nintendo DS, according to Gonzague de Vallois, senior vice president of publishing at mobile game publisher Gameloft.

Games for the platform are not limited by size constraints, which the Nintendo DS faces with its cartridges. Gameloft has titles as large as 100MB (megabytes), which is something unheard of for a mobile phone game.

Currently the number two publisher of iPod games, Gameloft has worked closely with Apple as an iPhone development partner on the new 3G device's gaming capabilities. The company has six launch titles: "Block Breaker Deluxe," "Brain Challenge," "Platinum Sudoku," "Platinum Solitaire," "Diamond Twister" and "Chess & Backgammon."

Although developed in just 12 weeks, each of these games makes use of the touch screen and accelerometer.

But the company's second wave of games, including the late August release of "Asphalt Racing 4: Elite Racing," will delve even further into iPhone's gaming capabilities, including Wi-Fi multiplayer racing and the ability to steer cars with either the touch screen or by accelerometer

Philippe Laurens, senior producer at Gameloft, envisions the iPhone camera coming into play down the line, whether it's used for players to insert their face into a game or incorporated into gameplay like requiring the player to photo something red.

"The cool thing is that Apple gave us a lot of cool tools that enables us to use things like the camera and the GPS within gameplay," said Laurens.

This entry was posted on Jul 11, 2008 at 10:02 AM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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