iPhone 5: iOS Game Developers Weigh In On Apple's Newest Smart Phone
It's finally here. The iPhone 5 made its debut during Apple's long-awaited keynote, much to the delight of millions of fans around the world, some of which create video games for iOS. That said, we had the privilege of speaking to several high-profile developers to find out what they think of the smart phone's numerous features, like the powerful A6 chip, four-inch screen and superior resolution, and how it'll impact the games industry moving forward.
"Plague Inc. is all about intelligent and engaging gameplay. There are no 3D graphics and it doesn't need crazy processing power. Therefore, the new hardware in the iPhone doesn't change anything for us or enable anything that we couldn't already do. That said, the increased screen size is nice, and we will be updating Plague Inc. to take advantage of it in the very near future. I'm also glad they are updating the iPod touch, as the iPod Touch 4's combination of retina screen and low RAM has always been annoying!"
"A more general point: The performance and capabilities of the iPhone 5 are extremely impressive, and the iPhone continues to push boundaries. However, I think we are getting to a point of diminishing marginal returns for the hardware, where the ability to interact and control games will begin to limit the ability to take advantage of all the computing power that is available."
James Vaughan, CEO & Founder, Ndemic Creations
"I'm really excited about the iPhone 5 and iOS updates. I think the biggest advancements in the hardware, from a gaming perspective, are the increase in screen size and performance boost of the A6 chip. There's nothing there that is going to change the world, but you'll be able to play more impressive games on a larger display, and there is nothing wrong with that."
"I think iOS 6 looks great overall, and I'm most excited about the Facebook and Twitter integration in the App Store. One of the biggest problems for indie developers is exposure, so if we can leverage social media directly from our store page it's going to be a benefit to us. I'm also really interested in the Time Shifted Multiplayer that EA showed off. I would like to hear more details on how that was implemented through Game Center."
In regards to the screen.
"The first thing that came to mind was how the new screen size and resolution was going to hurt us. Developers are going to have to make decisions about which games in their catalog to go back and update to take advantage of the new screen size, as well as have an additional resolution to target when developing new titles."
"However, I think the new screen real estate is a nice improvement, and it will be especially helpful to games that have on-screen controls. One of the big problems with on-screen controls for iPhone games is the fact that your fingers end up covering the play area. With more screen space available, developers should be able to remedy that. Honestly, I'm not sure we saw anything revolutionary today. There were a lot of great enhancements to the iPhone and iOS, but I didn't see anything that is going to shake up the industry."
Brandon Pollet, President, F5 Games
"Considering games are one of Apple's largest profit earners, there was very little focus on them. I can't wait to see what iPhone 5 can do graphically. I find myself wishing more and more for an official game dock with controller support. This would have been a great time to jump on to that. Ouya is good, but I want my iPhone to be an Ouya, and the charging doc to have an HDMI cable and controller support."
"Some people seem concerned that the performance boost will further widen the gap between small indie develeopers and huge studios. I don't feel this way. The size of a phone and the way we use it makes it more suited to simple, easily readable games than dense fast-moving 3D scenes. I think there will always be space for both types of experience, and more power is good for everyone."
James Barnard, Developer, Springloaded
"The new iPhone 5 is just one more step to make mobile gaming the fastest growing and, very soon, the biggest entertainment platform in history. With the install base of iOS devices, Apple dwarfs the install base of all current game consoles combined, and top quality, original mobile games like Infinity Blade 1+2, Real Racing 2+3 and Galaxy on Fire 2 HD demonstrate what A5 and even more, what A6-powered devices, are capable of. By adding seamless Facebook integration and Game Center challenges, Apple just put an even greater threat to all Facebook and browser game publishers who don't understand mobile yet."
"Of course, a bigger screen and more rendering power will let high-end games shine even more, and more battery life is always good for longer wireless gaming on the couch or on the go. For the release of the iPhone 5, we already have even more sophisticated visual effects, like bloom and refraction shaders for our upcoming Galaxy on Fire 2 Supernova HD update, and we will support the new 1136 x 640 Retina display right from the start. Furthermore, we have a dedicated Challenge Mode in Supernova to take advantage of Game Center challenges under iOS 6. Combined with the seamless Facebook integration, this will help us increase user retention and engagement alike."
Michael Schade, CEO, Fishlabs Entertainment
"The iPhone 5's larger screen resolution and more powerful graphics capabilities will help cement its position as a true gaming console for the masses, while the addition of LTE support is a direct benefit for Woo Games and the type of real-time multiplayer games we develop (the upcoming ErnCon for iOS). Although none of these features are game-changers, they allow the entire smart phone game industry to further refine and improve its offerings."
Ernest Woo, Founder & CEO, Woo Games
"The A6 chip's horsepower will make a difference, as will the better connectivity
for multiplayer. I was also pleased that we won't have to perform intensive surgery on existing apps to make them run. The additional vertical resolution is just what we hoped for, especially for Crickler, allowing us to add some additional social functions and improving the experience. The new iPod touch is also a pleasant surprise, and I expect it to sell briskly."
"The performance of the A6 looks on par with the Xbox 360. That means we can build AAA-level titles that meet hardcore gamer expectations. Even for simple social games, the display gives us room for some user-interface enhancements."
"The 'free' iPhone4 is going to take market share away from the entry level Android phones. This may not sound like the biggest part of the announcement, but it may have the largest impact. How many Android users will simply switch when their contracts renew?"
"On that note, the iPhone 5 and the new iPod are probably the end of the dedicated handheld model. Sony must be kicking themselves for refusing Sony/Ericsson's request, (from 2009) to build a phone based on the PSP. What's more, the iPhone 5's A6 chip simply outperforms the Nintendo 3DS and probably the Sony PS-Vita as well."
William Volk, CCO, PlayScreen LLC
"The iPhone 5 represents an incremental improvement. With the maturation of handheld computing devices, it is getting harder and harder to find opportunities to include truly killer features and applications. Apple has managed to consolidate its lead in the smart phone space, but didn't announce anything that really wowed us.
"The impact of the iPhone 5 on mobile gaming should be relatively minimal. Certainly, there will be some cool new games specifically optimized for the new screen ratio and resolution, but in most cases, it will just be a matter of scrambling to make our current projects run even better on the new hardware."
Dirk Knemeyer, Founder & Chairman, Involution Studios
"I like the larger screen and slimmer form factor. From a game development standpoint, it's been clear that screens have been moving to the widescreen format (16:9), so it is nice to see Apple moving that direction. They are showing some consideration regarding backwards compatibility by allowing existing apps to letterbox, rather than requiring developers to scramble to retool their games."
"The combination of the new A6 processor speed (especially the 2x graphics speed) and the new screen technology is going to allow us as developers to bring console-quality game visuals to the devices, but that doesn't necessarily mean we will be bringing console quality games. As an example, Infinity Blade 2 is still very much a casual level game with regards to depth and breadth, even though it is very pretty."
"So the phone will be able to support the better visuals and higher poly-counts, but those are going to stay the realm of the big development houses, the indie studios that are 80 percent of the App Store are not going to be able to engage at those levels."
"I think we are going to see a renewed push from the AAA studios to get their products onto iOS, but with an eye towards pitching them as mini-console games and connecting them in some fashion to the AAA console versions of their games. It's going to continue to push the stratification of the iOS marketplace because the indies (for the most part) are going to continue to build 2D puzzlers and action games, while the bigger pubs with the marketing budgets are going to dominate the paid market by delivering games that give the impression of 3D AAA titles."
Kimberly Unger, Founder & CEO, Bushi-go, Inc.
"We're really excited about the iphone 5 and iOS 6 announcement. As previous devices and OS releases have done, we think it will bring a whole new set of users into the market. The smart phone has the potential to be the greatest gaming device ever created, and we think this announcement will help realize some of this potential. We're already thinking about ways to incorporate some of the graphics and game center capabilities to continue to innovate and create new types of gameplay."
"We're interested in using some of the new capabilities in Game Center to enable new interactions in our games. We think it will allow us to build more meaningful and deeper player versus play features, as well as collaborative game features which take Tap Paradise Cove and Tap Campus Life to the next level. We're also excited about building better graphics and larger more immersive worlds with the new screen size and processor."
"The announcement today will accelerate the shift to deeper, richer game experiences that can be experienced with other players. It also means that mobile will continue to grow and take time and attention away from other game segments. It's a great time to be an mobile game developer."
Ben Liu, COO, Pocket Gems
"As a company that likes to push graphics on mobile, we couldn't be more excited by what iPhone 5, plus a new iPod Touch can do. The cool thing is that it is more powerful than an iPad 3, yet it will only need to render about 1/2 the amount of pixels for its screen, making it extremely capable with what we can do with it. Most hardware updates come with a new screen resolution that negates much of the power, but here, you get that power to apply to the games themselves."
Chip Sineni, Game Director, Phosphor Games Studio
"Apple's next iPhone may have a larger screen, but the changes announced today that will be the most impactful to game developers won't come in the form factor, but in iOS 6. iOS 6 allows users to access the iTunes App Store without leaving an app or game, and to remove the need to sign in when downloading a free game."
"Both of these changes remove steps from the app discovery and purhcasing process, removing one step to downloading free games and also allowing developers to cross promote their games or advertise others' games without asking the players to leave the game they are currently playing in order to download or purchase a new one. These may seem trivial, small changes, but in reality, removing small steps in the game discovery process like these can make a world of difference with users and their purchasing decisions."
Clay Kellogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Chartboost
"I love the form factor and the new screen. There's nothing immediately new that jumps out at me, but it represents ultimate refinement. I felt the confidence from the Apple side, which was much stronger than last year's 4S reveal, so I'm sure we are looking objectively at the best iPhone ever."
"Better battery life is fantastic, and the connectivity to the fastest LTE services will really open up multiplayer opportunities. The easier the device makes it for a developer to really let loose with creative connectivity, the better the game experience will be for the players, and that is our number one priority. Apple is the leader in smart phone gaming, and the iPhone 5 looks like it can handily hold that lead with improvement across the board. The lack of NFC (from what I can gather) means adoption of that tech will be much slower. Apple prides itself on usability, so until it busts out NFC of its own, millions will not adopt for some time yet."
Phil Larsen, Chief Marketing Officer, Halfbrick
"Apple's improvements to iOS 6 make significant strides in offering users a frictionless, seamless mobile experience. For example, free App downloads no longer require users to enter their iTunes password. Additionally, users have the ability to download new apps from within apps they are already using. This means that game developers like Glu can help users discover relevant content without redirecting them out of their current app experience. For example, users can discover Glu's Eternity Warriors 2 while playing Bombshells: Hell's Belles, and then download the new game in the background without disrupting their play."
"As expected, the iPhone 5 offers a faster experience across the board. The faster CPU/GPU combination means that developers like Glu will be able to offer more immersive, high-production value gaming experiences. Developers will be able to achieve higher frame rates, sharper graphics and faster gameplay. The significant bump in memory should also improve overall game performance."
"The larger screen size on the iPhone 5 may be the most significant improvement for the purpose of increasing user engagement. We have seen that iPad gamers tend to play longer and take advantage of in-game purchases more frequently than previous iPhone's. With a larger screen size, we should see the overall engagement of iPhone gamers improve."
"We also expect to be able to provide an improved multiplayer experience on the iPhone 5, due largely in part to the added 4G LTE compatibility. Improved connection means that users will experience the same smooth gameplay they enjoy in single player modes."
Mike DeLaet, VP of Global Sales & Marketing, Glu Mobile
"The iPhone 5 will easily be the best smart phone on the market, and we believe it will outsell the tremendously successful iPhone 4S by a wide margin. The biggest news from our point of view is the A6 processor and the wider screen. The iPhone is rapidly closing the gap on console performance for 3D graphics. For game developers, I think the new 5th generation iPod touch is fantastic news. The larger screen, better camera, superior battery life and instant messaging capability are going to make this an incredibly popular Christmas gift for gamers and will further tilt the portable gaming market in Apple's favor."
"In all, this was a very solid set of products from Apple. If Apple is able to deliver the iPad Mini this October, it will be a very merry Christmas for iOS game developers."
Chris Ulm, CEO, Appy Entertainment
"Although the iPhone 5 may seem like a mere specification upgrade, we see this as a huge advancement for mobile development. Increases in processing power, memory bandwidth and battery life allows developers like us to continue to push the boundaries, similar to what game development went through in the late 1990s."
"The 16:9 resolution and 4-inch screen are very attractive, as they allow for more screen real-estate, something that is critical for mobile games. Simply put, more screen room equals more gameplay. Working at this resolution also allows us to move between PC and iOS with ease."
"We believe Apple is moving in the right direction. The iPhone 5 is not only a true multimedia platform, but also a powerful one at that. Our latest game, Runic Rumble, features very high quality 3D graphics and a version for the iPhone 5 could look truly amazing."
Morgan Lean, Founder & CEO, Epiphany Games