Report: Examining Apple's iPod Games Commitment
Apple announced last week that iPods will be packed in with three games, and that Nanos are finally game-capable. But is it enough to erase 12 months of negligence?
iPod Games were launched in Fall 2006 to great fanfair, but ultimately the category failed gain the same level of traction as iPod-formatted TV shows or movies.
The games were only available on video iPods and not the better-selling iPod Nanos, and it was over six weeks past launch until any new games were made available. Now, nearly 12 months later, there are still only 18 games available for Apple's ubiquitous music player.
Additionally, the iPod Video itself contained subtle indications that Apple didn't take games as seriously as the other entertainment mediums it has entered. In iTunes, Audio, Video, and TV Shows all had their own navigational sidebar shortcut when an iPod was plugged in, with "Games" nowhere to be seen and no way to add it. Additionally, an iPod Video's default menu features Music, Photos, and Video, with "Games" buried inside the "Extras" menu alongside Clock, Stopwatch, and other little-used features.
Although the iPhone did not launch in June with any kind of games functionality, for many months there have been rumblings that a games announcement is imminent. Some industry watchers claim that the only reason game publishers like EA, Namco, and Gameloft even bothered porting titles to the iPod Video was to get a foot in the door for iPhone game development.
Although both the iPhone and iPod Touch still lack any official videogame component, Apple did manage to slip two major game-related announcements in its annual iPod presentation that would seem to indicate that the company is beginning to step up its dedication to the space.
The first and arguably most important development is that iPod Nanos are now game-capable, making the iPhone and iPod Touch the only links in the iPod chain that don't support games. Apple also announced that three titles - iQuiz, Vortex, and Klondike [Solitaire] - are now included on all new game-capable iPods sold.
Given the sheer frequency and volume of iPhone Games rumors, coupled with Apple's seemingly genuine renewed interest in promoting and expanding iPod Games, it seems all but a certainty that Apple will be making a greater push into the space in the near future.