Our iPhone games wishlist
Five things we're hoping Apple will do
Unless you've been buried headfirst in a sandpit all week, you may have noticed that there's a new handset called the iPhone going on sale in the UK today. It all kicks off at 6.02pm tonight (if you're wondering about the time, it's because it's exclusive to O2 – geddit?)
Anyway, as we've explained before, Apple hasn't made games a priority for iPhone so far, despite reports that it's working with several publishers for a future launch of downloadable games for the handset.
Assuming this is true, we've compiled a five-point wishlist for what we'd like to see games-wise on the iPhone, both from Apple and its publisher partners, but also from web-based games firms, who can launch their titles via the iPhone Safari browser.
1. Some games, please
The obvious starting point is that we'd like downloadable games for the iPhone as soon as possible, from a range of developers and publishers. The straightforward thing would be to port over the existing catalogue of iPod games, but there's only 13 so far.
We'd like to see Apple signing up more mobile games publishers to bring some of their best titles over. iPhone versions of games like Tower Bloxx, SolaRola, Frantic Factory, Hexic, Critter Crunch and so on should be no-brainers.
2. Innovative touchscreen gaming
We wrote a feature recently about developers' expectations for touchscreen-based mobile games, and the general view was that there are exciting possibilities, but only once touchscreen handsets sell enough units to make it commercially worthwhile to develop games for them. Well, the iPhone fits that bill, provided Apple opens up to more developers and publishers than it has on iPod.
Some games will make the transition naturally to a touchscreen interface. Think all those match-three puzzlers that involve moving gems or other objects around the screen – they'll become even more intuitive if you're using your thumb to do it, rather than a cursor.
We're itching to see how developers tackle problematic genres though, such as driving games, football sims, and first-person shooters. Can they work on iPhone? People need to try to find out.
3. Music games
One of the coolest trends in iPod gaming is the release of games based around music and, often, the actual music stored on your iPod. So far, three have been released: iQuiz, Musika and Phase.
The iPhone will surely see more of this, especially if Apple makes a concerted effort to encourage developers to exploit the handset's music capabilities. Linking back to our second wish above, we think music rhythm-action games could be a natural fit for touchscreen controls, for example.
4. An iPhone games community
This is admittedly the least likely of our wishes to be granted in the short-term, but what the hell. We'd like to see a connected gaming community for iPhones, run along the lines of Xbox Live with high-score tables and buddy lists.
So, you'd play iPhone games and then automatically upload your scores to see how you rank globally (and even locally), as well as among your iPhone-toting friends. Maybe Apple could even encourage developers to build Live-style Achievements into games too, enabling iPhone gamers to build up a profile of their gaming expertise.
Full multiplayer? Hmm. It'd need to be over wi-fi, so what are the chances of you being on a hotspot for long enough to play a game against someone else? But maybe longer turn-based games would work: iPhone chess anyone?
5. Web games
While Apple gets its strategy for downloadable iPhone games sorted, the gap is likely to be plugged by web game firms launching iPhone-friendly versions of their titles, accessible through the Safari browser. In fact, some already have, such as PopCap's Bejeweled.
We're hoping to see some interesting stuff in this area, beyond the rash of cheap Tetris knock-offs that's already making its presence felt. Web games are a huge industry for PC users, but they haven't really had a chance to target mobile handsets until now.
Safari-based games could be launched by tiny developers as much as the big firms, and with Apple planning to release its iPhone software-development kit, they should also have access to the the new handset's hardware features. So we're hoping to see some innovative titles.
Well, that's our wishlist. But what do you think? Buying an iPhone and have some ideas for gaming? Feel free to post a comment.