Much to nobody’s surprise today, Apple announced its new
cash cow innovation in mobile technology, the iPad. Images of the device had been leaked all over the internet for months now, and the only real mystery surrounding today’s media event had been what the device would be called (I was a proponent of the iSlate). We already knew that it was going to be an iPod Touch that fell victim to a steamroller.
Over the years I have watched with shock and incredulity as the iPod Touch and iPhone became more and more mainstream. What began as a relatively high-end device marketed to tech geeks and busy professionals is now the favourite plaything of spoiled children and bored housewives. The App store and its plethora of well-made and enjoyable games is largely to blame for this, much to my chagrin every time an angry mother moans about a cracked iPod screen and how they should be more durable for children. Now I am wondering what fate has in store for the iPad. Will “iPad games” become almost as commonplace in our gamer world as “DS games” or “PSP games”?
The fact that the cheapest iPad is still going to cost a whopping $499 smackaroos should keep it out of the hands of most plebes, but it is only a matter of time before the price point lowers to a more manageable level and more people purchase them. When that happens, I think it will be a new day for portable gaming. Personally, I think that the iPad and other tablets of its kind will herald a new way of looking at portable consoles. The fact of the matter is that the iPad plays games darn nicely. Existing iPhone OS games are already compatible, and many developers, including EA, plan to release special iPad-centric versions of games. These iPad versions will take advantage of the larger screen and more diverse control options available on the new device. The iPad (and other tablets) will be able offer gaming experiences comparable to other portables, while still offering the myriad of other features that come installed.
What do you guys think? Do you think that portable gaming has become so commonplace that quality games are now necessary for a successful portable device? Do you instead think that there will and should always be a distinction between gaming portables and other, more “serious” devices? Personally, my experience with the iPhone tells me that we should expect the worlds of PDAs and portable consoles to further collide.