Games on the iPhone 3GS is no big rush and would perform better

The iPhone 3GS is already wooing game developers with its faster, more powerful platform, but don't expect a ton of games fully taking advantage of it to flood the App Store--yet.

Though 1 million iPhone 3GSs sold in one weekend, the latest Apple mobile device is essentially still a niche product, compared to the 40 million original iPhones, iPhone 3Gs, and both iPod Touch models already sold. And those won't be able to run games with the same efficiency and speed as the new iPhone 3GS.

In short, it's still too early to declare the era of iPhone 3GS games officially arrived. Some game makers are waiting, or not creating games to take advantage of the device at all. Some say it's "not wise" to play specifically to what is still a small slice of the audience combing Apple's App Store for the latest downloads. For example, Pop Cap, the company behind Peggle and Bejeweled for the iPhone, said its games are benefiting from the faster load times the 3GS offers, but it has no plans to create games that are iPhone 3GS-specific.

This wait-and-see approach may be contrary to what some expected. The iPhone 3GS was essentially an update to the iPhone 3G. The "S," we were told, stands for "speed." Indeed, there's a faster processor, a PowerVR SGX graphics chip that can handle 3D rendering, and support for OpenGL ES 2.0, a standard use for creating 2D and 3D graphics. It also has a magnetometer and a video camera, unlike other Apple mobile devices.

At the device's world premiere at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller promised that games on the iPhone 3GS would perform better, and, in the parade of developers brought up on stage to demonstrate apps for the new device, the only category among education, health, games, books, and music to be repeated were games.

"Our philosophy is not to take advantage of technology just because it's there," he said. "The other thing to keep in mind: Apple has sold 1 million 3GSs, but there are 40 million devices already in market. By focusing specifically on 3GS, you're leaving a huge potential market untapped at that point," said Stein.

Independent developer Kuan Yong is already hard at work on updating his AirCoaster 3D game, which has sold 100,000 copies since February on the App Store. AirCoaster is a 3D roller-coaster simulator. For earlier iPhone and iPod Touch models, it uses the accelerometer to allow the player to gain momentum on the roller-coaster track. But now, with the iPhone 3GS's magnetometer inside, the phone can be moved along vertical and horizontal axes to tilt view, like a compass.

So even though the iPhone 3GS has been on the market for a little over a week, and while developers are clearly eager to see what the new device can offer for games (many of the people we met in line the first day were independent game creators) the flowering of super-powerful, intense 3D graphics won't take place until more devices capable of running them are on the market. While iPhone 3GS sales will certainly pick up, if previous iPhone model sales are any indication, the device that will blow open this market for game makers isn't an iPhone.

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