Apple’s new iPod touch web ads almost makes you think the touch is a real gaming machine - Macenstein

Apple’s new iPod touch web ads almost makes you think the touch is a real gaming machine

It’s no secret Apple is pushing the iPod touch as a gaming machine – Steve Jobs said as much when lamely trying to explain why the new iPod touches didn’t have a camera (as if game makers couldn’t find a creative way to make use of one).

But if there was any lingering doubt that Apple was trying to push the iPhone/touch platform further into the mindset of hard core gamers, this new web ad on super gaming site IGN ought to clear up any misconceptions.

Unfortunately, even a fanboy such as myself must admit that the iPod touch and the iPhone are somewhat lacking when it comes to games. For the past year I have tried to convince myself the touch screen could be made to take the place of analog controls, but I just can’t kid myself anymore. As the games being released become increasingly complex and ever more graphically stunning, it’s obvious that the interior of the iPod touch is more than up to the task of handheld gaming – but it’s the outside that needs work.

Oh sure, many developers have come up with clever tricks and inventive control schemes, but aside from a few standout casual games that were inherently designed for the touch screen interface (Flight Control, Puzzlings, Fieldrunners…) the majority of games would benefit GREATLY from some sort of analog control buttons. Sure, driving games LOOK like they work great in the 2 second clips in the Apple ads, and tilting to steer works well enough, but find me ONE die hard racer who likes having to precisely hit certain areas of a flat screen while turning said screen in order to break, shift, shoot, etc. Even some of the first games ever made (PacMan, BurgerTime, Frogger) are too difficult to play on the touch. And forget about First Person Shooters and Football. No matter how impressive the graphics, and no matter how well companies like Gameloft are able to design their psuedo-analog controllers, covering 35% of an already cramped screen with your thumbs is no way to play a game.

Above: Where the hell is the iControl Pad?

Quite frankly I am surprised Apple has not yet come out with it’s own dockable gamepad/external battery device. Remember the GameBone, the iJoyPad, and the ethereal iControlPad? They all looked great (well, they all appeared to WORK great, that is) but despite over a year of publicity and hype, to date not one has physically shown up here at the lab for testing (note to those developers, please send us one for testing, we’re DYING over here!).

Above: …and the GameBone?

Quite frankly by now Apple should not only have come out with its own controller, but it should have also have released a set of APIs to let developers incorporate the controls into their games. So far the avalanche of iPhone/iPod touch peripherals I expected after Apple announced support for 3rd party hardware earlier this year has yet to materialize. At this point it is pretty clear that if Apple wants to create a viable gaming accessory market, it is going to have to get the ball rolling itself – perhaps even literally with a dockable trackball, for Centipede.

Above: … and the iJoyPad?

In the family friendly hand-held gaming arena, there is no doubt that Nintendo is still king, but if Apple truly wants to compete with the big boys, they’re going to need to take a page from the New England Patriot’s playbook, and take a page from their competitor’s playbook. Nintendo always markets its own (usually superior) peripherals for its consoles and handhelds, but also allows other companies to market their own. Apple should do the same. Without a way to control games while avoiding covering them with our fat fingers (and stereotypes be damned, most die hard gamers DO have pretty fat fingers) all the advertising on gaming sites in the world won’t bring the iPod touch true gaming street cred.

5 Responses to “Apple’s new iPod touch web ads almost makes you think the touch is a real gaming machine”
  1. Dave-O says:

    Does anything use analog controls? I’m pretty sure any system these days uses digital controls. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I saw an analog volume control on a stereo.

  2. Chris Leither says:

    I just want Nintendo and Apple to merge. Both, at least for me stand for the same one thing… innovation…

    And both companies never cared what the outside world wanted when they thought their idea was superior…

  3. Jonro says:

    You’re right on target with this. I’m surprised that Apple hasn’t released a standard for iPhone game conrols yet. I can understand they may want to think of the iPhone as a complete gaming system, but it’s not. I like pinball games. Even though you only need two controls, a button on each side of the display, the iPhone’s pinball experience is lacking. Having to cover part of the screen to activate the flippers detracts from the experience. It’s still fun, but could be a lot better.

  4. darrell says:

    i’m with the consensus here – the iPhone is not a gaming system. but it certainly has a lot of games. some say the original game boy was about as fun as playing with sticks and dirt – but it still played a lot of games too.

  5. Teegan says:

    The X-Box 360 has analog triggers on it’s controller. Digital does not equal better and analog does not equal old, useless technology. Also, last time I checked, nearly every game system has at least one analog stick…

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