Apple iPhone, E3's Sleeper Hit?

Posted by: Matt Vella on July 18

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In many ways, Apple’s iPhone was the sleeper hit of E3, the gaming industry’s big summer convention. More importantly, the iPhone may be the most disruptive innovation in gaming in years. Yes, even more so than the Nintendo Wii. After the failure of the GameCube, everybody expected Nintendo to sink or swim this cycle but, aside from fanboys pleading for Apple to get into gaming, no one was seriously predicting the company would. It’s apparent now, that it has stepped into the ring a major, industry-shifting way.

Apple released the second generation iPhone along with upgraded iPod touch and iPhone 2G firmware as well as the iTunes-based AppStore just in time for the opening of E3 this week. But despite not having a big presence at the show, iPhone buzz was rampant thanks to several announcements and unexpected revelations at the show and online throughout the week. So what happened to fan the fire?

Firstly, during the company’s Tuesday presentation, Electronic Arts executives made it clear that ‘real’ games would be coming to the platform, not just bargain-bin mobile titles. Aside from the already-announced Spore, EA is planning versions of its lucrative Tiger Woods and Need for Speed for the handheld. A transcript of the even it available here.

Then, SEGA of America president Simon Jeffery sounded off on Wednesday, asserting that the iPhone is about as powerful as the company’s defunct gaming console, the Dreamcast. That statement further underscored what a lot of users and reviewers have been wondering out loud as they wade into newly published and surprisingly polished games. Jeffery also detailed how the company plans to take advantage of what he suspects could be major new platform. Video of his talk is available here.

And finally, blog TechCrunch posted tantalizing gameplay video of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, an as-of-yet unknown title due in September that sports cutting edge graphics and – apparently from the demo – innovative gameplay. (Check video out here.) The title’s sophistication, beyond anything available so far, in effect legitimated all the high-flying rhetoric swirling around the show. Expect September to be a big month for the platform, with a number of triple-A titles due.

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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