iPhone OS 3.0: What it Means for Gamers

TiPb has been following the iPhone and gaming for quite some time now. Now that the iPhone OS 3.0 announcement has come and gone, we've learned that there are 1000 new API's for developers in the SDK. This will not only help developers make better games but it also shows Apple is deadly serious about making the iPhone a true competitor to Nintendo and Sony within the handheld market. What a bright future there seems to be for iPhone gamers.

More after the break!

Apple's ace in the hole has been the App Store since the day iPhone OS 2.0 was announced. This year, the App Store will be available in 77 countries around the world. The App Store is like having a mobile version of Gamestop built into your phone, which is something the likes of RIM, Microsoft, or Google cannot compete with (though they've all released, or will soon be releasing versions of their own).

With iPhone 3.0, however, Apple is again raising the bar. In-app purchases will allow you to get even more out of a game for additional fees. Say you’re playing a First Person Shooter (FPS), you can pay an additional $0.99 for example to gain access to a better gun, stronger armor for your character, or $4.99 for an expansion pack with new maps/levels. Or how about in-app purchases with the upcoming Electronic Arts game, The Sims 3. Want to buy a radio for you house? Not a problem, you can make these purchases right in the game. Now something to keep in mind, these additional items that you can purchase must have some sort of game changing ability for them to charge you. An item that would not change game play can not be sold to you. The possibilities, however, are endless.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) connectivity is also a huge plus when it comes to gaming and handheld devices. It is something that will be key to Apple's success in the handheld wars. What this will allow gamers to do is to play multi-player games and share information using Bonjour and Bluetooth. All of this can be done with no pairing needed what so ever. Pretty sweet deal if you ask us.

For a perfect example of what to expect from Peer-to-Peer connectivity be sure to check out the iPhone OS 3.0 announcement and head to the 54:00 minute mark to view a impressive look at a First Person Shooter called Live Fire. This game not only utilizes Peer-to-Peer but the push notification feature as well. How would a First Person Shooter use that feature you ask? It's pretty simple, say you want to play with a friend of yours who has Live Fire on their iPhone. While you are playing simply send your friend an invite that gets pushed directly on their iPhone. They can choose to accept the invite or ignore it. Pretty nifty indeed. Will it be long before we have a friends list similar to that of Xbox Live?

It really is a pleasure to be able to watch something like this be built from the ground up. Apple really is doing a nice job at turning the iPhone into a portable gaming device. Some will say it is limited in terms of controls with games, which at the moment may be true. The platform is so new and developers have not even begun to scratch the surface. Until that happens we have yet to see exactly what is possible.

That's not to say there isn't any room for improvement, however. Instead of screen shots we'd still like to see streaming video previews for games. It'd be nice to be able to see a game in action right on your device within the App Store before you make your purchase.

Still, if there is a single company out there that you do not want to bet against, Apple is the one.

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Reader comments

iPhone OS 3.0: What it Means for Gamers


Why do I have the feeling Jeremy meant "Let's say I'm pwn'ing Rene in Halo Touch and he sends a quick HELP! message to Dieter. A push notification would show up on Dieter's iPhone, and by tapping it, Dieter could launch Halo Touch as well and instantly join us in the game -- where I'd pwn him to!"
Sigh. Apple making it easier to get served by gamer friends ;)

I'm concerned about how the in app purchases will be utilized... buying content like guns in first person shooters would be an unfortunate development for gaming, when a multiplayer experience should be much more unified, not giving people with more money bigger guns. Broader purchase options seem more appropriate (such as buying level expansions from within the game)

I'm waiting for some third party company to come up with a controller that can attach around the iphone in landscape mode connecting on the dock connector. As far as I'm concerned, the iphone is not a handheld gaming console contender until the option for physical buttons exist. Touch and tilt controls do not work for every game and the on screen buttons that are faintly laid over the action on the screen do not work either for anything outside of casual games. Outside of this, the iphone is the perfect platform, it has digitally downloaded titles so there is no need to drive to the store, there is soon to be added voice chat in game, more multiplayer options, and also has the capability to allow for online gaming from anywhere, not just at a wireless hotspot like the PSP and Nintendo DS. Man, if there were physical buttons, the system has the horsepower to play some comparable games to the PSP it just really needs a removable control and it would be perfect.

I don't like the idea of buying upgrades for a game that I've already bought or have a paid subscription to. Why would I want to pay a buck to use a different weapon and what happened to earning these upgrades through skill? From an invested point of veiw it's nice to charge people willing to pay, but as a user paying for extras turns me away.

Well since developers can now make an app that communicates with an accessory, like the blood pressure monitor in the OS 3.0 announcement, wouldn't that mean developers and accessory makers could get together and make a controller that interfaces with their games?

Initially, I thought the in game purchase would be a great way to offer a free trial level, then then option to purchase the full game, allowing developers not to make a "free" version. But to my understanding, in game purchases can only be enabled for purchased games. can anyone verify this?

AppStore is available in 77 countries. But what about the "Games" section? Since AppStore's release here on Brazil, no games were available. That's extremely frustrating, since some of the major benefits of having an iPhone is gaming and on other countries the device costs more than the US$ 199 we were promised (here the first option costs approximately US$ 700, it's BRL 1500,00).

Neil from ngmoco already admited at toucharcade that if a external controler proves itself as popular they will support it on their games

"I’m waiting for some third party company to come up with a controller that can attach around the iphone in landscape mode connecting on the dock connector."
this will happen, probably just later this year. it is certainly possible under the 3.0 framework.
it'll be interesting to see if any standards ends up being adopted, and whether different systems will end up battling for dominance.
i'd also imagine that many of these controller systems will include battery packs to extend game-time.

Do you guys think that with the new APIs and the increased ability for dock connections to run programs on the iPhone we will see external games? Like a DS kind of deal where you attach it to the device and the game runs?

In-App purchases have the potential to destroy the AppStore. Sure a TomTom app, letting you buy a new map makes sense. But a new gun in a FPS??? A new engine in a car racing game??? No thanks Apple!

Never mind the iPhone being a true competitor to the likes of Sony & Nintendo; I'd like to see it be a true competitor to all the other "smartphones" by having a better (open) calendar database that rivals the current Palm OS calendar app (let alone whatever the Pre might bring) or even WM for example. I can't believe Apple won't do this, and that more people aren't jumping up and down about it.

As to buying guns and such in game, I'm cautiously optimistic that the market will weed out the bad stuff. But at the same time, if, all told, a kick ass FPS cost 10 bucks or so (after buying all the weapons), that's a pretty good price, don't you think?

"you can pay an additional $0.99 for example to gain access to a better gun"
I would never pay for any game that operated on this principal. Period.

As for no in-game payments for free games. Loads of games are free, either initially or for a certain period - I wonder how Apple will deal with that.

@ Matt , I agree with you.
I also think that people would loose attract of how much they have brought in the app. That's a good way to waste money on a gun or a radio in the sims 3.

It seems like the iphone/ipod touch are becoming more and more just vending machines. Except that traditionally the vendor pays for the machine, and the customer just buys the product. Here, they make you buy the vending machine! I like Apple, but I hope Apple is unsuccessful in this. I think Apple is abusing its customers by doing this.

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