Forbes.com recently wrote about the potential of the iPhone as a handheld gaming system. This sparked some thoughts in my mind about what Apple could be planning come June 9th. The release of the SDK and the announcement of the App Store makes the iPhone a tremendous platform for content distribution.
With the amount of market share Apple holds in the mobile world, the iPhone is more than suitable as a portable game console. We have already seen a glimpse of what the iPhone can do when EA demoed Super Monkey Ball and Spore on March 6th. The iPhone may have twice the power of Sony's PSP, but will its button-less makeup prove to be useful or inept?
iPhone vs PSP and Nintendo DS - Would Apple stand a chance?
Yes, the iPhone is powerful enough to handle top notch handheld graphics, but will it really work as a gaming platform? After all, it is a phone, and we all know what happened when Nokia attempted to join the big boys with the N-Gage. Continue reading for a list issues the iPhone faces.
- Buttons vs No Buttons: Since the beginning of the gaming era, every system ever released featured a controller with some kind of button interface. Nintendo is the only company that has really attempted to change that with the Wii controller, but it still has buttons! What would it be like to play games on a console with buttons you can't feel - How would Street Fighter work on the iPhone?
- Storage Medium: Discs, cartridges, UMDs and hard drives have all been used to store game material. Will the limited (and non-upgradeable) content capacity of the iPhone permit it to be a legible gaming platform? Gamers usually own and play multiple games rather than going through them one at a time. I can only imagine no more than 3 games stored on an 8GB iPhone on top music, pictures, and videos.
- Battery Life: The iPhone was clearly not designed as a gaming system from the ground up. This would be a huge issue for all gamers, reason being that if you're almost out of juice the same will apply your phone, PDA, camera, internet device, and so forth. Not cool!
- 3rd Party Support: Today, if a console doesn't get enough support from video gamer publishers and developers, chances of its success are dropped significantly. Already knowing that the iPhone SDK is getting the type of attention that it is, game makers may find it easy to support the iPhone. The Nokia N-Gage failed for this very reason. The ability for the iPhone to be used for so many functions makes it interesting; imagine videogames taking advantage of not only the accelerometer, but the proximity and ambient light sensor.
Clearly, the iPhone faces a lot of challenges in terms of becoming a proper gaming console. This doesn't mean that it will stop Apple and 3rd party developers from taking advantage of the system, and the SDK. We will know exactly what's to come for Apple and the developer world after tomorrow on June 9th. Who knows, Apple may come up with a crazy methodology and make gaming seamless on the iPhone. That would definitely cause a huge splash in the industry.