iPhone gaming explosion as devs follow the money

Apple keeps pitching to establish the iPhone and iPod touch as gaming platforms, while games developers seem receptive to the company’s charms – and they’re following the money.

Developer Cassidy Lackey of Handmark claims the cash gained from games development on Apple’s mobile platforms is temptation enough to bring in new devs, observing that while its GTS World Racing game is available for a variety of smartphones, “our iPhone version generates 98% of our revenue,” Gamesutra informs.

As with everyone we speak to on development for the iPhone, the App Store is an incredibly useful string to Apple’s bow, not least because it frees developers from having to agree restrictive deals with the carriers, offering a direct route to consumers.

It’s not just about the cash, confirms Patrick Gunn, director of marketing for EA Mobile. Demonstrating Need for Speed Undercover, which ships next month, Gunn observed, “the UI that Apple has delivered is so easy and so compelling that it makes shopping for apps so compelling, that it has us excited.”

More praise from Gameloft, where Apple has become the company’s leading customer in terms of downloads of titles through the App Store. Sanette Chao, director of PR for Gameloft noted her belief that currently released games from the publisher exploit just 10 per cent of the capabilities of the platform. That publisher will introduce its second gen titles beginning in January she admitted.

News that games developers are diving onto the iPhone platform is confirmed by news that Rock Band and Guitar Hero co-creator Alex Rigopulos is looking to introduce a batch of his own titles to the iPhone and iPod touch.

He has ambitious plans to introduce ambitious titles to the platforms, he told Silicon Alley Insider. Noting the success of Tap Tap Revenge, Rigopulos said, “Maybe we’ll get there [to the iPhone] late. But if we get there with something that’s better, for five dollars, we can probably sell it.”

Beyond gaming, Newsgator Media developers behind NetNewsWire, among other products, this week offered an invitation-only seminar to website owners and bloggers in which the company explained the advantages of transforming any form of content into an iPhone application.

This was no idealistic presentation, the developers stressed the advantages in terms of accrued income through ad inclusion and the glue factor of creating strong bonds with audiences.

We’ve written extensively (and perhaps excitedly) on the potential for musicians to tighten their bonds with their fans through the release of iPhone and iPod touch applications.

With the recent relaxation of the rules governing use of the iPhone SDK, there’s never been a better time for neophyte developers, or people interested in hiring them, to find out what they need to know in order to cost and begin iPhone app development.

And while there’s always the risk that a developer may create an app which doesn’t quite have the difference/edge it requires to stand out beside other apps, there’s plenty of untapped capability in the Apple devices.

“I think we have barely scratched the surface of what can be built with the iPhone SDK,” said veteran Mac developer Dave Mark. “I’m constantly amazed at the ideas that emerge from the iPhone developer community. Clearly, there’s a lot of talented folks being drawn to this platform.”

Mark recently co-wrote an in-depth book on iPhone development with Jeff LaMarche. “Have we hit the iPhone’s limit for gaming power?” he asked, “Not a chance! Cocoa Touch will continue to evolve, as will the hardware,” he said.

We already know legendary titles such as Sim City and Quake are making it to the platform, and with such heavy interest in the platform – and huge potential profits for succesful applications, developers are simply employing the oldest maxim in the book as they flood to iPhone app creation: “Follow the money’.

Inherent to all of this of course is that each of these nuggets suggest one thing: Apple has succesfully invented and popularised a platform, in under two years.

No matter how much advertising Microsoft may fork out it has less to offer in terms of leading the charge in any industry (with the exception of its wallet-emptying Xbox franchise.

The difference is that while Xbox is widely regarded to be a loss leader for Microsoft, iPhone already generates good results for Apple. So, with all this activity it really should surprise no one that Apple currently outspends Microsoft on ads – it has more to talk about.

Interesting times.

2 thoughts on “iPhone gaming explosion as devs follow the money

  1. James Katt

    What is interesting about Apple is that Apple will not create a product that loses money. Its primary marching orders is to make profit. For shareholders like myself, we no longer have to suffer from years of death notices about Apple.

    Another interesting thing about Apple is that its platforms – Mac OS X and iPhone OS X – make more money for their developers than on Microsoft’s Platforms. Apple’s users are more likely to pay for their applications than Microsoft’s users.

    This makes developing for Apple very enticing for developers – as they are starting to learn.

    Money, Baby. Money. (to paraphrase a dumb failed vice presidential candidate).

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