When Apple unveiled its shiny new iPad earlier this year, it seemed to polarize the world of geekdom like no other device has done before or since; the Apple Brigade joyously heralded it as the second coming while skeptics asserted that it was nothing more than a bigger iPhone.
Whatever your viewpoint on the iPad, one thing is certain – games developers are likely to flock to the platform. Indeed, many established iPhone studios have already pledged allegiance to Steve Jobs’ new baby and are planning to bring up-scaled iPhone classics and new titles to the device.
The rich revenue stream provided by the popular App Store is sure to entice further support, but one has to wonder just how much better iPad games will be when compared to iPhone ones.
Granted, the increased screen real estate is likely to enrich the experience and allow for more complex titles, but how long will gamers have to wait for this to be exploited? Depressingly, most of the confirmed releases for the iPad are titles already available on the iPhone. They will boast high-def graphics, but the gameplay will essential remain unchanged.
Even when dedicated iPad games do appear, will it have the raw appeal to suck in hardcore console gamers who have thus far managed to resist the allure of the iPhone? In terms of pricing, the iPad certainly isn’t in the same ball park as the cheap-and-cheerful DS and PSP.
Then there’s possibly the biggest issue – portability. The iPad is one shiny slab of expensive consumer technology and the dazzling array of protective sleeves and cases already being teased by peripheral manufacturers should give a pretty good indication that most owners will treat their devices with the same degree of care and attention one would usually expect to be lavished at a fragile newborn baby.
Portable gaming devices have always been about durability and we can’t see many iPad owners treating their expensive new machines with the same devil-may-care attitude your average pre-teen has towards their DS.
As has already been hypothesized endlessly by tech experts, the iPad could find itself gunning for a sector of the market which doesn’t exist. iPhone gamers may see it as a rather extravagant indulgence and will merely wait for the inevitable announcement of the next iPhone later this year, while those who have remained loyal to Nintendo and Sony are likely to scoff at the lofty price-tag and ignore the machine altogether.
Apple has proven that it can create a portable gaming platform – indeed, the iPhone continues to bite away at a market ordinarily dominated by the incumbent “old guard” – but if the iPad fails to find its niche in the business and netbook world, then it may struggle to assert itself in the videogame arena also.
Pocket Gamer is Europe’s leading source of news, opinion and reviews on mobile and handheld gaming.