Global Game Industry News Blog

Friday, March 07, 2008

The NeXT Open Console? The iPhone SDK and Games

[Cross Posted from IShotTheCyborg]

Oh dear. XNA (and the more closed DS and PSP) might actually have a run for its money, in the form of an "open" game platform on the iPhone. Admittedly there are all sorts of less than open issues associated with the iPhone, but for $99.00 you get registered and make games for the iPhone. The same price oddly enough for full XNA tool usage on the Xbox 360.

While the development environment forces you to use Objective-C, you can use OpenGL ES and OpenAL, which is also more open than DirectX 10 on XNA. So there are some interesting aspects to this device. I've also heard people making jokes about it being a Wii that you can make phone calls on.

Gamasutra - Apple Unveils iPhone SDK with Spore, Monkey Ball

Using the iPhone SDK, “third party developers will be able to build native applications for the iPhone with a rich set of APIs, including programming interfaces for Core OS, Core Services, Media and Cocoa Touch technologies,” leveraging iPhone aspects such as its Multi-Touch user interface, animation technology, storage, three-axis accelerometer and geographical location technology.

Also important is the new store aspect. It makes it easy to get applications onto your iPhone, something that most mobile carriers still seem completely unable to comprehend. I went looking for downloads for my Motorola RAZR the other day, and after 30 minutes gave up. I was not just a potential lost sale, but a LOST sale. I was ready to buy some stuff.

John Carmack on Slashdot

Just based on the blurbs, it looks very good -- a simulator plus debugging on the native device is the best of both worlds, and a 70% royalty deal for apps over iTunes is quite good.

The iTunes distribution channel is really a more important aspect than a lot of people understand. The ability to distribute larger applications than the over-the-air limits and effectively market your title with more than a dozen character deck name, combined with the reasonable income split make this look like a very interesting market. This type of developer / customer interaction is probably the wave of the future for mobile devices, it will be interesting to see how quickly the other players can react. Based on our experiences with the carriers, I am betting not very quickly.

Also based on the early comments from developers, it appears to be a fairly powerful device, and the debugging and profiling tools that developers have access to will give them the ability to squeeze a lot out of the device.

TUAW.COM - Apple Shows of iPhone Gaming Chops

Finally, Ethan Einhorn from Sega showed off a build of Super Monkey Ball, naturally also using tilt controls. What's interesting there is they actually underestimated what the iPhone could do, and ended up having to bring in another artist to upscale the art from what they had anticipated. Again, the take home message: the iPhone is a real platform for game development.

But I really think there is potential for interesting new things with this device. Like the DS, there are just so many options available that developers can think about deploying in their games.

Gamasutra - Analyst Talks Apple's iPhone Games Strategy

With recognition of the upcoming announcement of the SDK, Williams added, "The most viable market opportunity for Apple is undoubtedly the mobile space with the iPhone and iPod touch. With hardware features such as multi-touch, tilt monitor, networking capabilities, a microphone and a camera, the iPhone has the potential to be a revolutionary mobile gaming device."

Finally, and perhaps most interesting was the introduction of a fund of $100 Million to encourage new development on the iPhone. This is something that even MS hasn't endevoured to do on XNA in any large scale fasion.

TUAW.COM - iFund: $100M for iPhone/iPod touch devs

This $100 million fund will invest in companies, large or small, that want to develop innovative apps for both the iPhone and the iPod touch.

The iFund will invest anywhere from $100,000 to $15 million in funds for iPhone development.

Coverage on Develop - Carmack Praises iPhone Development Plans

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