Gaming: iPhone vs. Nintendo DS and Sony PSP


We've covered gaming here a few times already. Now Roughly Drafted Magazine's Daniel Eran Dilger chimes in with another of his highly detailed (and highly partisan) articles, this one looking at Apple's iPhone and how it compares to, and seems poised to disrupt, the established portable gaming platforms:

The most obvious competition the iPhone faces is the leading Nintendo DS and the distant runner up, Sony’s PlayStation Portable. Incidentally, both gaming units appeared on the market in late 2004; the iPhone benefits from being nearly three years younger, and therefore based on considerably more modern technology. However, gaming isn’t an easy market to break into.

Dilger covers whether or not a convergence device like the iPhone can even compete against dedicated gaming handhelds. He runs down the current console market and Apple's thus far discreet approach to gaming on iPods.

From unit pricing to hardware specs, Dilger makes his case that while the iPhone is expensive, its also a generation ahead in terms of performance, and despite the price, offers features above and beyond gaming.

Potential smart phone rivals, including Micrsoft's XNA and Nokia's N-Gage 2.0 are also discussed.

What's Dilger's conclusion?

As Apple migrates its 150 million iPod installed base toward the iPod Touch and iPhone, the company will pair a large user base with enthusiastic development efforts. Users will get the gaming environment as a free addition to the phone, media player, and web browser they purchased. Conversely, that also means that lesser phones with plodding web browser capabilities and simplistic media playback–as well as dedicated games consoles that really only play games–will have a hard time competing against the new platform. That should make for an interesting 2008.

Personally, I've considered a PSP in the past but could never justify the (then very high) cost for something I wouldn't use all that often. But I have my phone with me all the time, and if I could get games as innovative as the DS (or Wii!) and as high quality as the PSP on my iPhone, it would be a no brainer. And maybe Apple's counting on that as a way to "trojan horse" its way into gaming.

On a very deep level, using the accelerometer to fly an X-Wing into the Death Star is something I think the iPhone was forged to do. (You listening, Lucas?)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Gaming: iPhone vs. Nintendo DS and Sony PSP


I have a psp solely to play baseball; there hasn't been a licensed baseball game for pc's for many years, and I hate being tied down in front of a console.
In any event, given apple's complete lack of success getting games onto mac, I don't have high hopes for gaming on iphone. the platform is interesting, but without any sort of control pad, it's not ideal for most styles of games. Instead we'll see some interesting and unique games that take advantage of the accelerometer, camera, and connectivity, and lots of "casual" games. In fact, I'm working on one now. Big name ports will be few and far between.

I downloaded a baseball demo for the PS3 for my little brother and noticed it used the six-axis for batting (he jabbed it in different directions to swing or bunt). That may be a direction to go for games on iPhone (the Wii approach, as some have mentioned).
However, I would demand a dock-locked wrist strap before ever trusting myself not to fling my iPhone across the room during an excited gaming session!

hi there aidan geary here from cork. Have an iPhone already and although it comes with built in 8gb memory you have to connect the iPhone through iTunes on a pc then download or rip a DVD and put it onto your iPhone via iTunes sync I think this is crap. the psp might not have a built in camera or phone or built in 8gb memory but at least it kicks ass compare to the iPhone.
1 - the psp can play cool 3d games, the iPhone can't
2 - the psp has controls for games, the iPhone hasn't
3 - the psp can download anything from wifi directly
To memory stick. iPhone has to connect to pc
4 - Steve jobs is greedy!!! Sony aren't .
5 - psp does not have massive roaming bills or 18 month contract.
6 - psp can video call through gocam - iPhone can't
7 - iPhone does not have location free support!!
8 - iPhone also has no skype . Psp has both of these.

I think the iPhone has capabilities better than both the DS and PSP. I also think the PSP is extremely overrated, and really not sure why Sony are still pushing it.
It's as old as the PS one now - the gimmick days of the PSP are quite frankly, over.
DS isn't all that impressive either.