One look at the games being released for this season and it's easy to think we're entering into the next great generation of iPhone (and iPad) gaming. Infinity Blade has brought Epic's Unreal 3 Engine to iOS in grand fashion, with spectacular, real-time environments, fun gameplay, and character models and motion that would have blown me away on a PS2, let alone a handheld device that also surfs the web and makes phone calls. In a day or so we'll also get Real Racing 2, sequel to Firemint's Apple Design Award Winning driver, complete with 30 licensed, gorgeously reproduced cars and highly anticipated multiplayer online gaming.
These are features that, until now, were reserved for PC and console games. They're premium titles, the kind that take the time and effort of small scale motion pictures to make. They're what's putting a hurt on Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS business, never mind other smartphones. And they're on our iPhone, with more and more to come.
In a market where other platforms are now achieving 3rd party software parity with Apple -- they have enough of the kind of applications people want on their mobile devices that tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are quantitative but no longer qualitative differentiators -- and raw hardware specs that equal and may soon eclipse iPhone 4, these kinds of games could be the iPhone's killer apps and Apple's next short term differentiator.