2008 saw Apple prove its worth as a competitor in the handheld console market dominated by Sony and Nintendo. We've rounded up the things both gaming giants could learn from Apple. And for good measure we've compiled a list of the greatest iPhone games available.
There's no doubting the fact that over the past few years Nintendo and Sony have had a very good run. Whether it's the tones of games released for the DS or the fact that the PSP surely is a hand-held console for those that love gadgets with its Skype to internet-radio support as well as oodles of cool games.
But 2008, saw a very unexpected competitor to the gaming giants in the form of Apple. The company's iPhone/iPod Touch games start at 59p (going up as high as £5.99), and games have flooded Apple's App Store since it opened its digital doors in July.
Nobody at either company has asked, but here's my free advice regarding the things they could learn from Apple.
Get that new DSi out worldwide, on the double! The bigger screens and the 256MB of memory are a good start, but we need to see a Wiiware-style channel where people can easily download DS games directly onto their handheld no matter where they are, stat!
Also, while I'm mentioning it, set it up so that we can run said downloaded games directly from SD Card. Another quick thought: Don't try to out iPhone the iPhone. If you're going to build in MP3 functionality, maybe you should at least support the MP3 file format. (AAC only? Really?)
Admit that UMDs need to be thrown down a hole with all those Betamax machines. The UMD optical drive sucks power and doesn't deliver high-capacity storage compared with what even cheap flash memory cards now offer. You're better off bundling a streamlined system with a hard drive.
Want to sell people games at a store? Sell them on Memory Sticks - as you probably should've done in the first place. Or take further advantage of the online store, which has already done a bang-up job offering PSP games as digital downloads.
The PSP has had a tough fight against the Nintendo DS since its launch. That said, as a gadget-head, I love all the connectivity features that sync up the PSP with the PlayStation 3. If Sony can create more games and applications that tether the two devices together, you might still make a case for PSP owners.
The best advice I can give to both Nintendo and Sony is to remember your roots. I did a story a couple months back celebrating the indie community that has rallied around the R4 cartridge as a legitimate homebrew gaming tool. That same group is always looking for new ways to mod the PSP, as well. These dedicated coders do it simply for the love of games (or to build their resume for getting into the gaming biz).
Open up the doors, and let people who want to make all sorts of apps release them into the wild. You want to vet them for quality control? Go right ahead.
Way I see it, Apple has the right idea. The code is out there for people to play with, and I'm seeing tons of cool, free, and cheap applications just waiting to be downloaded. Want a taste of what's available? Read on to learn more about the best iPhone games of 2008.
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