Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Iphone games platform

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

In less than two years, there have been 800 m downloads

The iPhone is set to become the dominant gaming platform because of connectivity and the strength of the App Store, a conference has heard.

The claim was made by iPhone developer Neil Young of Ngmoco at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Mr Young told the audience the iPhone and the iPod Touch boasted 30 million users usurping Nintendo's DS or Sony's PSP at a similar point in their lives.

"As a game device, the iPhone has revolutionised the market," he said.

Since its debut last year, the App Store has seen more than 800 million downloads with gaming being the most popular category.

"If you looked at the top 100 apps today, you would see 60% are games. That creates an incredible opportunity for game makers," he told BBC News.

In his talked entitled Why The iPhone Just Changed Everything, Mr Young urged developers to make full use of the iPhone's unique features to create games that users will love.

"Don't let the haters tell you it sucks compared to the DS or the PSP," he told a packed audience of developers, industry watchers, analysts and journalists.

"It doesn't. It's good. It's clear the quality of iPhone games is eclipsing its console counterparts, and that's even more acute when you compare it against the prior generation."

As the producer of games like "Rolando" and "Word Fu", Mr Young said the iPhone's unique features like "multi-touch, an accelerometer for control, access to your media, a camera and the fact it is always on, always with you and always connected to the network means we can do games we have never seen on mobile devices."


As well as being something of an evangelist for the iPhone, Mr Young also issued a rallying cry to developers to develop for the device.

Quoting the actor Sean Penn portraying gay rights activist Harvey Milk in the movie Milk, Mr Young told the audience: "I'm here to recruit you."

Silver PSP, Sony
The PSP 3000 was released last year with an improved screen

"I want these developers to not be mobile game developers but for them to make games for this wonderful device which is a game machine that just happens to make telephone calls," Mr Young declared.

That sentiment was echoed by Rob Tercek, the founding chairman of GDC Mobile and president of digital media for OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network.

"We finally have a phone that is truly a platform for gaming," he told BBC News.

"You need an easy way for people to browse and discover and share and the iPhone has done a good job of that. I don't think it is a perfect job because if you browse the App Store it is actually quite cumbersome.

"But it's much better than what went before and that holds the promise of better things to come," said Mr Tercek.

Mr Young believes Apple's release in the summer of the new iPhone 3.0 software will take mobile gaming to the next level. In a sneak preview to press and developers last week, Apple showed off the new operating system which will allow peer-to-peer applications and some voice-over-IP ability.

"Inflection point"

While Mr Young touted the virtues of the iPhone as a gaming platform, he also admitted that getting a new game noticed in the App Store can be tough going.

With 165 apps entering the store every day, Mr Young had this advice.

Ngmoco's Touch Pets
Ngmoco's Touch Pets is one of eight games developed for the iPhone

"First you have to make something good with broad appeal and native to the device and showcase what it has to offer."

The next steps are simple and obvious, he said.

"Manage a community, maintain an active blog and a tight relationship with any followers."

Mr Young also revealed that later in the year he has plans for his company to partner with a select number of developers to "help them promote their software above the noise."

For the foreseeable future he said Ngmoco will only make games for the iPhone, although he is not ruling out changing that stance in future..

"We founded the company because we believe this device was representative of a big inflection point in the industry.

"I have had the opportunity to watch, participate and be a customer in all those great inflection points like the Atari VCS or the NES or PlayStation One or Xbox LIVE or Gameboy; this is one of those moments."

"If someone comes along with another device that matches that, I'd certainly take a look but right now that feels a long way away.

"We are the centre of the new everything, the iPhone has revolutionised everything," concluded Mr Young.

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