iPhone Gaming


Time Magazine is running a pretty insane article about the iPhone, and whether it'll "rule" gaming, whatever that means. Look, I like the iPhone's interface as much as the next guy, but it's not a dedicated gaming device and shouldn't be compared to one.

The first problem is battery life. I really like that Texas Hold 'Em game for the iPhone, but I'm honestly afraid of playing it. If I spend 30 minutes with it, the battery life is *gone* when I'm done. Not only does this suck because I can't keep playing, but it also sucks that my *phone* is now in danger of running out of juice. And charging and playing at the same time is pretty difficult as well, since the iPhone needs that massive plug in order to charge. In contrast, I could play games on my original Nokia N-Gage (which is still sitting in my closet) for hours on end, my Nintedo DS will last the good part of an international flight and when I used to have a PSP, I played Lumines for hours while listening to news or music. The iPhone as a gaming device just isn't in this class.

The second problem is the lack of buttons. Have you bought and played Tetris for the iPhone? It *sucks*. Completely and totally. It has almost no redeeming qualities as a game. There are some games that need the responsiveness of actual buttons, and Tetris is one of them. Getting rid of them all together means cutting out swaths of common games that most of us grew up on and still enjoy. This is a big issue if the platform is supposed to "rule", wouldn't you think?

I mean, hey, I agree with the general concept of mobile casual gaming being super successful. And the fact that Apple's apps and games also works on the iPod Touch means that this stuff isn't just available for those people old enough to have phones (though I could argue that a Touch isn't nearly as kid-friendly or really kid-proof as a Nintendo DS). The point is that Apple's devices were optimized for other uses, and until Apple comes out with a game-specific iPod, any sort of thought that they're going to challenge Nintendo or Sony in the portable gaming market is just ludicrous. It doesn't mean they're not going to sell tons of games, but it'll be casual games at best, good for spending 10 minutes in a waiting room, not hours in the back seat.

All this said, I'm also the person that declared that the Nintendo DS stood for "Disa-Ster" when it first launched, so you know, I've been sorta wrong before.


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