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Opinion: iPad will be the meteor that finally wipes out small iPhone developers | Pocket Gamer.biz

A lot has changed in the world of mobile games in the past 10 years and that's something we will be looking at in our new initiative which will see us reposting PocketGamer.biz articles from the past decade.

This week we consider the wider impact of Apple's announcement of the iPad on 27 January 2010 for indie devs. 


Amid all the celebrations that came with Apple's iPad announcement, the financial implications for game developers, especially small developers, aren't positive.

While backwards compatibility with existing iPhone games was expected, it creates some massive problems.

For one thing, every developer will be attempting to get on the iPad launch bandwagon, spending money to release new versions of their current iPhone apps to try and gain market traction. That's going to be thousands of games.

The price of new

Also, if developers do decide to substantially update their old games to take full advantage of iPad's better processor and screen - as Gameloft is doing with N.O.V.A.- it seems unlikely they will be able to charge more unless they can somehow release the update as an in-app purchase.

The biggest issue for developers looking to support the iPad directly with new games however will be straightforward - increased development costs.

Even assuming you develop with a single binary, as currently happens with the various hardware specifications of iPhone and iPod touch, to make your game stand out on iPad, it will have to be primary target.

The price of bigger

That 9.7-inch screen and 1GHz processor are going to require more high quality art assets as well as better graphics programming.

Also, the larger screen and the different way people will interact with the device - at arms length rather than fore-arm length - means successful games are more likely to be 3D than the 2D standard of iPhone and iPod touch.

It will be as difficult to charge $10 for any iPad game that isn't a licence as it currently is for iPhone games

This all costs money; and should see game budgets rise well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There will also be massive competition from free Facebook games, thanks to the excellent web browsing characteristics of the iPad.

So who's paying more?

In that sense, the pricing of iPad games will be crucial.

Backwards compatibility, bringing with it access to the bulk of existing 99c games, means even assuming iPad has its own App Store, the price deflation of iPhone gaming will leak upwards.

It will be as difficult to charge $10 for any iPad game that isn't a licence as it currently is for iPhone games - unless Apple has a specifically labelled premium area of the App Store for iPad.

That seems highly unlikely.

In the long run then, it will only be the likes of well resourced publishers such as EA Mobile, Gameloft, PopCap and Glu Mobile, possibly with the exception of large, specialist indies such as Firemint, Fishlabs or Freeverse, who will be able to take full advantage of this new market.

As was once said, for to all those who have, more will be given; but those who have nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

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