I love my iPhone. I love games. I play games on my iPhone. But where are the really good iPhone games? Where's the platform defining game? Where's the game that makes someone say "I need to buy an iPod Touch just so I can play that game?"

A lot has been written recently about the size of the iPhone gaming market: TUAW comments on the staggering size of the market, RPS counters that Flash is bigger. Either way there's a lot of iPhone games being sold. But most of them suck. That's OK, we all love our long-tail media. The incredibly low cost of iOS games combined with iOS' relatively low barrier to entry has made for a lot of games.

But where's the great iPhone game? My candidate for best-ever iPhone game is Canabalt because it's beautiful, simple, well tuned, and quick to play. Perfect mobile game, but it's way too simple to be a Great Game. Angry Birds is the iPhone hit with legs, and it's pretty good, but it's derivative and not very compelling. There's nothing like Halo or Final Fantasy or Super Mario to define the iPhone gaming experience.

Maybe there never will be. Maybe iOS will always be an adjunct gaming platform, a device we play games on incidentally rather than something we seek out to game. But I don't think so. Between the touch interface, the environmental sensors, the mobile ubiquity.. there's got to be something there.

  2010-11-21 22:58 Z