While searching the web for cats that look like Wilford Brimley, I stumbled upon an article on John Carmack’s view of the iPhone. He thinks it will pose a significant threat to handheld gaming devices. I think this is stupid. There are always the traditional reasons the iPhone won’t steal much thunder from handhelds: the battery life isn’t long enough and the lack of any actual tacticle buttons is a turn off for many and hampers control, but I am more fond of an analogy.
Proponents of the iPhone argue that developer freedom over content and cost will separate the platform from competitors. Let’s try this same argument to explain the death of game consoles:
Man of the Future: Did you hear about this new platform that nearly everyone in the country owns?
Hearer of Good News: What, a DS?
Man of the Future: No, it’s called a computer and it’s totally going to shake up the market!
Hearer of Good News: How so?
Man of the Future: Well think about it, you’ve got a computer already so why waste money buying a console?
Hearer of Good News: I like console games.
Man of the Future: Yeah, but the developers aren’t going to make them much longer. The computer gives them complete freedom over content, distribution and pricing.
Hearer of Good News: So how long do consoles have to live?
Man of the Future: The computer revolution is upon us. Sell your systems and buy a new graphics card.
Hearer of Good News: So I need to spend a lot to get involved?
Man of the Future: No, not at all! The computer will be flooded with games so simple you can run them in a browser.
Hearer of Good News: It really does sound like the best of all worlds.
Man of the Future: And how!
The last decade has been a history of PC developers leaving their traditional market space to sell to console gamers. Microsoft created a system and Valve, Epic, Bungie, Bioware and dozens more followed. If the iPhone is going to displace traditional handhelds, it will be an entirely new phenomenon because history clearly doesn’t hint that this revolution will come.
Now for the ad hominem attack. Carmack made a game on the DS called Orcs and Elves and about seventeen people bought it. He doesn’t like handhelds because their owners are stupid, tasteless peasants who don’t want to buy low profile, mud colored, first person rogue-likes that could have come out on the Super Nintendo (and more than likely did come out in DOS format). Good luck on the iPhone, John.
The thing about iPhone gaming analysis is that it has the zealotry typical of Apple fans. It would be one thing if a writer says “hey gamers, this is a good platform that you shouldn’t ignore.” More often, they write pieces that can be summarized as “the iphone isn’t just a competitor to Sony and Nintendo – it will destroy them, and this is a good thing, because their handhelds are terrible in comparison”. They would accuse a gamer who shuns the iphone of being afraid of competition, which is true, but these writers then imagine a world where Nintendo/Sony are eliminated. That’s just as anti-competitive, if not moreso.
There is still a lot of unfounded hate against iphone games, but there are also a lot of folks who realize the platform’s potential, whether or not they own one. These same folks often have no desire to trade away their PSP or DS. We’ve got a console scene wherein we have three competitors – the same can happen with handhelds. I can’t stand journalists who insist on turning it into a holy war. We’ve seen those days in gamingland. They weren’t pretty.
Absolutely ridiculous stuff like this inspired this post – http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/10/29/nintendo_profits_freefall_as_iphone_cuts_into_portable_game_sales.html
I like games and don’t have a problem with any platform – I own a bunch of horribly unsuccessful ones and mine them for gems. So it’s not that I’m against iPhone games (not that you necessarily think that) but I am against the hysteria surrounding the platform and its business model.
Yeah, I knew that was your stance, and I was backing it up. The worst part of that link is that they take business speak about competition and whatnot and spin it into the suggestion that Nintendo’s loss of sales are due to Apple taking them away.
My own stance on the platform took a bit of a dip recently, when I was putting music on my g/f’s brother’s iPod Touch and found that I would have had to pay to update to the latest firmware. I was ready to throw the device out the window, and it wasn’t even mine!
I own an iPhone. Having gotten that off of my chest, if I was stuck on an island and could only bring one mobile gaming device, it sure as hell would not be the iPhone. The touch screen is great for some things and gaming is not one of those things. Sure, there are good games to play on the iPhone but for the most part I do not think gaming is the area in which the iPhone shines.
A fun sidenote: I got bored last week and decided to jailbreak my phone. One thing that the iPhone does reasonably well is play SNES RPGs. The control interface is wonky so playing Super Metroid is just out but games that don’t require continuous button mashing work surprisingly well. Playing Earthbound on the bugger right now and it works great! BTW I have a 3GS so your emulation satifaction on older iPhones may vary.
I hate it when we agree Jay see here http://www.thatguys.co.uk/2009/09/top-ten-of-iphone-gamesapps.html
Would you rather go to a [Name of Contemporary Popular Music Band Gig] or go to a festival to see 14,000 tribute bands? I wouldn’t go to either. I fucking hate music.
Beware! If the iPhone crushes the PSP, the Tapwave Zodiac and Gizmondo could be next!