In GodFinger, one of the several hundred games already sprouting up for the iPad, players make over a barren world into one of lush greenery, peopled with loyal worshipers.
Could Apple’s new wonder gizmo remake the video game landscape?
The arrival of the iPod Touch and the iPhone led major game publishers including Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft to release tailored versions of blockbuster games such as Call of Duty, Rock Band and Assassin’s Creed. And new developers such as ngmoco cropped up to create games specifically for Apple’s mobile devices.
MORE: Play along on the iPad with these games
For iPad’s launch, EA Mobile, a division of EA, released five iPad games including Scrabble, Tetris and Need for Speed Shift. “We think of it as a new product category with tremendous potential for gaming,” says EA Mobile’s Adam Sussman. “This is a hugely exciting platform for gaming and allows us to do things we couldn’t before in mobile games. We have a lot of titles coming out in the rest of the year.”
Apple’s influence on the market is growing. Games for iPhone and iPod Touch accounted for nearly 5% of the $10 billion in overall video game sales, up from 1% in 2008, according to analyst firm Flurry. “The traditional gaming giants may yet again be disrupted by Apple,” says Flurry’s Peter Farago.
Diehard and casual video-game lovers alike have reason to be bullish on the iPad. The device’s 9.7-inch screen delivers rich colors and a much larger palette for game developers than popular handheld systems from Nintendo and Sony. Of course, it’s pricier too: The 16-gigabyte model costs $499, the 32GB and 64GB versions are $599 and $699. Comparatively, a Nintendo DS starts at about $130; the PlayStation Portable, about $170.
Already among 3,500-plus iPad applications available are several hundred games, some priced $1.99 to $14.99, others free. And like smaller cousins the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is intuitive when it comes to games — you just touch the display and turn, twist or tilt it.
So far, Apple says it has sold 500,000 iPads. Its high price could be a barrier for many, despite the iPad being “a superb game device,” says Scott Steinberg, lead analyst for high-tech consulting and research firm TechSavvy Global.
The most likely purchasers, he says, are casual gamers “who enjoy low-end simple social gaming experiences” or hard-core gamers wanting to “tap into the selection of thousands upon thousands of simple action, arcade, puzzle, word games and other offerings.”
As the iPad gains features — including a webcam and USB connections — the device “could herald an entirely new approach to game development,” Steinberg says. “In the next 12 to 18 months, if we are lucky, we’ll see some things that are truly innovative.”