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How the iPad will (or won't) change video games

A.J. Glasser | April 5, 2010
Is the iPad irrelevant to gaming and that things will stay just as they are?

SAN FRANCISCO, 3 APRIL 2010 - The tech-savvy world is out of its mind today with iPad fever as Apple's new "coffee table" device that combines the power of the iPhone with the size of a Kindle hits shelves. Pundits call it a revolutionary device; critics say we don't need a larger version of the iPhone that can't even make phone calls. Whether you fall into the first camp or the second, here's what we can tell you about the iPad's effect (or lack thereof) on video games.

Go to iTunes right now and you'll find nearly a hundred video game apps already on sale. Many of them are HD versions of existing iPhone games that come with a steeper price point than the $2.99 we're used to paying; a few are ports of titles we're used to seeing on places like Xbox Live or PlayStation Network; and only a handful are totally original games designed just for the iPad. It's certainly not the dead zone the iPhone experienced for a month or so when developers were still learning to navigate the tools and the App Store -- but it's not a drastically different landscape than gamers are used to seeing for mobile gaming in the last year.

Does this mean the iPad is irrelevant to gaming and that things will stay just as they are? That's not how smaller developers feel. A Flurry survey conducted weeks ago found that 44 percent of applications in development for the iPad were video games and while larger publishers like EA Mobile and Gameloft dominate the launch lineup, there's a healthy percentage of smaller developers with games ready to go. Something about Apple's new device appeals to developers and plenty are ready to evangelize the iPad's gaming potential.

"I think iPad gaming is a part of the future of games," game developer Mike Rasmussen told GamePro. "As a device a lot of people are underestimating its potential. Steve Jobs is sort of putting the world on notice that the past 30 years of computer hardware engineering is now obsolete. From that standpoint, we feel it is a revolutionary device and it's certainly an important part of our gaming strategy."

Rasmussen's company, Republic of Fun, has games ready for the iPad launch that take advantage of the larger screen and more robust specs. However, they're also retrofitting their existing iPhone games like Slug Wars to sell on the iPad a higher price (because it's a "premium experience," Rasmussen explains). So while he is enthusiastic about the iPad, it doesn't seem like he's sure enough about where the device is taking video games to risk abandoning games that sold just fine on the iPhone.


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