State of play

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

AP­PLE as a gam­ing plat­form? Never.

And then the apps store came along and changed all that.

Since 2008 Ap­ple has re­de­fined the gam­ing mar­ket, mak­ing games cheaper than any con­sole owner could imag­ine and turn­ing se­ri­ous men in suits into an­gry-bird­flick­ing pro­fes­sion­als.

Though Ap­ple doesn’t give ab­so­lute num­bers on how many games are in its app store, the thumb guides go like this: there are 350,000 apps, and of them, there are 65,000 games. Games are big. Very big. And as the big game-mak­ers note the rise of the mo­bile plat­form, ti­tles turn­ing up on iPhone, iPad and (Ap­ple’s al­most ded­i­cated gam­ing de­vice) iPod Touch are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated. Take EA as an ex­am­ple. The games gi­ant has thrown its weight be­hind mo­bile plat­forms, in­clud­ing iOS and An­droid, launch­ing once con­sole-bound ti­tles such as its FIFA fran­chise and other sport­ing ti­tles such as Fight Night.

These two ex­am­ples show how gam­ing de­vel­op­ment is evolv­ing around the mo­bile de­vice rather than sim­ply be­ing ported over from con­soles.

FIFA 11 is a block­buster in the con­sole world, but suffers on iDe­vices be­cause it uses a ‘‘vir­tual joy­stick’’ to con­trol the ac­tion.

Clearly, FIFA 11 is suf­fer­ing from be­ing al­most di­rectly ported over from con­sole.

Fight Night, on the other hand, takes full ad­van­tage of the touch screen: touch the top right of the screen and the boxer throws a right jab at his op­po­nent. Touch left lower and the boxer throws a left.

It’s an ex­cel­lent mo­bile in­ter­face, and it’s not ported di­rectly from con­sole (even though the con­sole edi­tion had its own tricky con­trols).

The other big joy of mo­bile gam­ing is it is not the big out­fits dom­i­nat­ing. Kids are bang­ing out top-shelf — and high-gross­ing — ti­tles that are grab­bing se­ri­ous at­ten­tion.

And thanks to amaz­ing gam­ing en­gines such as Un­real En­gine 3 (used on con­soles and some­how shoe-horned into iDe­vices) the gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — think Rage HD and In­fin­ity Blade — is get­ting to the qual­ity Ap­ple CEO Steve Jobs would call ‘‘in­cred­i­ble’’.

There is lit­tle doubt mo­bile is the gam­ing plat­form of the day.

JOSHUA GRECH

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