Successful iPad Game experiences and what we can expect
Well it’s been a full month now that I’ve been on the iPad and I’ve spent alot time researching and testing what types games are really going to do well on this new device. I don’t know that my findings will shock anyone, but I think it’ll help serve notice to people thinking they can take their iPhone offering, slap some new images in, call it HD and charge $4.99 for it.
Experience, Depth and multiplayer ( in the same room )
So after playing all of the fps games that came out and all of the driving games and quite a few iphone favorites, I’ve come to realize that depth and experience are what’s expected on an iPad (except where board games are concerned). Given the size of the screen and how the iPad fits into your daily / nightly routine, I think you’ll start to see what I mean. Especially since we have a screen size that warrants the respect of a laptop, the size of a large iTouch – you can easily see why a gamer thinks he’s holding a computer in his hands and then begins to expect the experiences they enjoyed on a regular computer.
One thing the iPad does is put the iPhone / itouch in a much more defined role. Used to be that I’d carry my phone all over the house to check email and play games. Now, I carry the iPad all over the house. Thing is tho, now that I have the ability to do a lot more on the iPad, I actually take time to sit and DO something with it, and the phone has been relegated to a gadget and the alternative when I leave the house – it’s a time waster that helps me get passed the 20 minutes I have to wait at the dr’s office. The iPad has become something of an option to spend time with and therefore, I look for games that have depth, experience AND great graphics.
If you’re playing a board game, then the expectation is vastly different. But get this: I’ve played just as much with my family on multiplayer type board games as I have with other types of games. And games that were never intended for multiplayer (like Bejeweld2) we’ve played like crazy together.
If you get anything out of this post – believe this: multiplayer/board games are going to do VERY well in the app store. When you can switch games easily, play nearly anywhere you go and have features like saved games, history etc, you can easily see the allure. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the favorite board games make their way into very nice HD iPad games or to see traditional game companies opt for making an electronic version along with the store bought version. For example, monopoly on the iPad will do extremely well, while playing on the iPhone i think was a bit of a stretch – people still like to crowd around a board and yell at each other 😉
One thing that seems to be a steady trend so far is the price per title. Where as something was .99 on the iPhone, it’s likely to be $1.99 for the HD version, which in 99% of the iphone games I tested on the iPad, this is ridiculous. It’s the same game, just higher Rez images, so you might as well save your money and buy the iPhone version and use the 2x’s button to play fullscreen. Seriously.
Now, some of the games coming out that are truly targeting the iPad are coming out at $4.99 with most actually starting around $7.99. Coming from the iPhone prices, you might be shocked, but I think that when you start to realize *what* type of gaming experience you’ll start expecting to get on the iPad, I think the prices start to make a lot more sense -IF the game delivers on the experience.
So you can imagine the disappointment as I see a ton of games that are being released for the iPad with the scope of an iPhone game with a higher price tag. That just doesn’t work at all – not at all. If you go in and look in the app store and go into categories > games and sort by release date, you’ll see all 3 of these apps in the first 2 pages. These games are exactly what I’m talking about. Stick bolt creators should be ashamed – $2.99 for that?! Get real. And the first 2 pages are just the tip of the ice berg. Continue looking and I think you’ll be disappointed at the list of available games as well, if you’re a serious gamer looking for a great experience on a great new device. And to be fair, I know there was very little time to get apps ready before the iPad store opened, so I’m hoping we’ll see new immersive titles show up soon.
These games are right out of the “hey lets make as easy of an app as we can and strike it filthy stinking rich with 1 button, 2 colors and advertisements using stick figures!!” – please, stop trying to do this. Keith Peters did it with Falling balls, and did it extremely well. But even Keith will tell you, it was about the timing – he came out with the game when the app store was still relatively new, and people were marveling at accelerometer and “free” apps. Since then, we’ve seen every one and their football humping monkey trying to strike it rich with stick figures and worthless non-sense. Keith’s the only one that ever did non-sense right, so can we just leave it at that and move on? 🙂
BTW – falling balls on the iPad rocks. Just sayin…
The interesting thing to watch out for in the future is to see how this affects the quality of iPhone games – do we see less depth and more gimmick games in the iPhone while the serious offerings start going to the iPad? I’m sure its conceivable that the “lite” version will be released for the iphone while the full featured game is sold for the iPad, and thereby possibly thinning out nicer games for the smaller devices. Also, considering the cost of producing an iPhone / iPad game, and being able to charge considerably more for the iPad games, I think we might see alot more emphasis on serious game offerings for the iPad.
The good stuff
Ok so what games DID I like? All of the driving games were fun. Those translated extremely well, but my favorite has been Need for Speed. It was $14.99 and I can honestly say it was worth it and I’m still playing it.
I’ve played all of the Gameloft FPS shooters. NOVA by far was the best out of all of them. It’s the only one I finished, it’s the only one I went back and played again at a harder setting, it’s the only one I tried to play multiplayer online and it’s the only one worth the $$. They put things in like having you place your fingers in the door and turning them to open it on screen. Sound silly? It’s not, it kicks ass to have that next level of immersion into the game – yes, a small addition, but damn it was cool. There was also a scene where there was a half-open set of doors that you had to “pry” open with your fingers – that too, was very cool ( 3rd screenshot down ). The graphics were very well done and even when the performance dropped in certain locations because of the beauty, I didn’t care one bit 😉 it was a great experience and I was taking notes on how they created their assets and scenes 😉
Now, gameloft put out 2 other titles and I’m sure they were using the same game engine for both as they used in NOVA, but they were not at all in the same league as NOVA. The most irritating thing was the right side controls. On Brothers in arms 2 and Sandstorm the shooting / action controls were too low, making looking around and shooting impossible. Why not keep it the same from title to title?? Didn’t much matter anyway. Game play and graphics seemed like they were churned out quickly for release. BIA2 is terrible. It’s clunky with the controls and you continually have to reach “spots” to get the game to continue. Problem is, it’s hard to get in that little location to get the game to continue. I stopped playing after 10 minutes and I’m about to delete the game in disgust because of the price tag ($7.99).
***LATE ADDITION UPDATE ***
Geometry Wars and other Arcade style games seem to also translate very well on the iPad. Geometry Wars did a GREAT job with visuals and playability. I think the reason why this does so well is that it takes you closer to that original arcade game experience. Just remember back ( if you were even alive in the early 80’s ) when you played Tempest, Defender, Asteroids, Pac-man etc – you were upclose to this console TV screen with minimal controls and it was a fun experience. Because of the iPad’s screen size, I can easily see why these games will do very well. Geometry wars is also one of the games I constantly go back to play over and over again.
With the focus of the iPad in a typical household likely to be that of something you sit down to spend time with and use, the games at a single player level have to be immersive, deep and beautiful. The player will want an experience, and soon enough, the larger game companies will be able to deliver that experience. The prices will go up to reflect the cost of production but I think people will be ok paying for the titles knowing that they’ll be getting the experience. I would naturally expect then, that the smaller development shops and the single developers will do better on the iPhone front (since they wont have the time/budget/ability to churn out a competitive offering) but this remains to be seen.
Board games and in-house multiplayer games will do extremely well and we’ll see many popular titles be released from the major game companies. Could we also see digital versions sold with the physical board games? not that its really possible, but maybe a download from the appstore with a code provided in the store bought box to unlock it – you never know 😉
Anyway, i’m encouraged for sure about the iPad and other tablet offerings that might be coming soon this year. This type of device has definitely provided plenty of entertainment for me AND my family and I think there’s plenty of gaming in store for us as we see them mature in power/speed and capabilities.