Apple is extremely confident in the iPhone and iPod Touch's capabilities as a gaming platform, so much that the company did something at today's iPod event that it has yet to before: pan its competition in the DS and PSP.
Apple rolled out a whole batch of music-oriented products today, including new iPod Nanos, iPod Touches and new versions of the iPhone/iPod Touch firmware and the iTunes music player. And as the company has done regularly in the past year or so, it touted its handheld devices' capabilities as legitimate platforms for gaming.
What it did do differently this time compared to every other time, however, was directly criticize its competition. Sounds like Apple really is turning into a gaming company. What's next, Steve Jobs coming on stage with tattoos of logos on his arms?
"And people are starting to see what a great gaming device this is," Apple's Phil Schiller declared while slides of the DS and PSP were displayed on screen. "When you think about the companies that came before us... when you played those other systems, they seemed so cool, but now when you look at them, they don't stack up against the iPod Touch."
Apple outlined four things that make the PSP and DS worse for gaming: "No Multi-Touch user interface. Games are expensive. No App Store. No iPod." Then they displayed some images of DS and PSP games with their comparatively hefty price tags, an unsightly picture of a GameStop store shelf (which might be more of an insult to GameStop, really) and a chart showing how the iPhone's 21,1878 available games trumps the 3,680 on DS and 607 on PSP.
After that, it was onto the games. Ubisoft showed off Assassin's Creed 2 (you can import your own photos into the game for wanted posters), EA had Madden and Gameloft debuted Nova, a Halo-inspired FPS with some seriously impressive graphics.
If anything might qualify the iPhone OS as a legitimate platform for games right now, it is probably the technology. I recently got my hands on Gameloft's September lineup for iPhone, and the graphics are what consistently impressed me.
The only problem is that of all the titles I played, from the Earthworm Jim remake to the Soul Calibur-inspired Blades of Fury and the surprisingly fun Diablo-clone Dungeon Hunter, most of these games are either simply iPhone-ized versions of other successful games or just straight up remakes. They look great and more often than not play more than well enough, but there is a sense of a lack of originality. Perhaps that's what the indie iPhone development scene is for. In any case, if I were Apple I wouldn't declare superiority with such ease. Hubris doesn't get you very far in this business.