Well, not really, but I did have a lot to say about iPhone gaming after attending a group demo yesterday. I’m looking at Apple’s move into mobile gaming with a wary eye, but I won’t deny that there’s plenty of potential there. The hardware/software/sale ecosystem the company has created with the iTunes Store is the perfect way to perform an end-run around the Sony/Nintendo duopoly, and at its best the iPhone represents the touch interface of the DS combined with the power of the PSP. It’s gonna be a long and rocky road, but I really do think Apple has potential to become a major player in portable gaming — or, at the very least, a major provider.
I mentioned that I’d suddenly taken a shine to video on iPhone yesterday, and it coincides with my getting my hands on a 3G review model Apple has lent me for a few weeks. My old iPhone is fine, but the faster speeds of the 3G network really change the acquisition dynamic: basically, if you have an urge to listen to or watch something, you can grab it over the air instantly for a few bucks. I didn’t mess with the iTunes Store much on my own phone, but on the faster version it’s kind of difficult not to abuse the service. And I think that will be a huge benefit to Apple’s gaming initiative. Want a game? Go online and grab it. The file sizes are surprisingly small, and even on America’s crappy 3G networks the download speeds are quick. The iPhone’s biggest drawback is the lack of must-have games, but once those start arriving it’s going to make for a compelling system. Meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo are locked into the retail paradigm; while it’s true they’ve been moving toward digital downloads, DSi and PSP 3000 make baby steps in that direction. Frickin’ DSi is still locked in to 802.11b wi-fi, and in any case you can’t exactly download anything unless you’re on an access point.
If Apple does this right, their online system will be a fulfillment of the potential inherent in mobile gaming, but without all the crappiness. Even the most obvious interface issue (i.e., not having a built-in D-pad) may not be a deal-breaker: yesterday ngmoco’s Neil Young demoed the upcoming Dropship, which is controlled with a virtual D-pad that actually seems to work. The secret is that it recenters on your thumb no matter where you touch the screen, so you don’t have to worry about drifting. Not a perfect solution, but a solution nevertheless.
Me, I’m holding out for a tilt-controlled Rocket Slime sequel.