Why the iPad is Great for Game Developers

02/04/2010

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the iPad and interestingly much of it negative. Despite this, I think the iPad will do amazingly well.  The nay-sayers are focusing on the wrong areas.  Yes, it’s just a big iPod Touch.  Yes, it extends Apple’s DRM.  Yes, it’s missing multi-tasking.  But the flip-side is immense.

We’ve been building Facebook games and iPhone games for over a year now.  We’ve learned an awful lot about how to make interesting and viral games for the platforms.  The iPad gives us a chance to combine the best of both platforms.  We can have rich interactive games that have enough screen space.  One of the best parts of the iPhone/iPod touch ecosystem is the DRM.  Because the platform strictly isolates applications from each other, and applications require approval, the application installation and maintenance is extremely robust and easy.  The difference between maintaining an iPhone versus a Mac or PC is huge.  The iPad promises to make a much more consumer friendly and mobile device than a home PC.

There are many obvious possibilities for the iPad.  It will clearly be a strong contender for electronic books.  The demo of Need for Speed shows that it can be a game console.  Safari has done an incredible job of delivering advanced web support, making use of gmail and other cloud utilities seamless and easy.  Shipping productivity tools like a word processor and spreadsheet mean that it may be enough to be the family “computer”. But there are some other applications that haven’t been talked about much.  My 4 year old twins love to play Princess Monopoly with us, so one of my first thoughts is that the iPad will revolutionize family and social games like board games. Imagine Risk, Scrabble, Monopology, Axis & Allies, etc.  This could really bring families together for some quality time around the device.

Probably an even bigger market will be the embedded markets, such as retail, shop floor, and medical.  If I were selling a custom solution for retail sales, like Squirrel, I’d be really worried and I’d be porting my software as fast as I could.  An iPad makes incredible sense for the medical system.  All the patient records available on an incredible easy to use device.  The iPad literally could save hundreds or thousands of lives if the health care community can roll out a device that has higher availability of information, less chance of errors especially for written prescriptions/treatments/notes.

In our market, the iPad gives the possibility for some amazing social games.  A large touch screen makes social map-based games, like all the farming and building games, even more compelling and available. We are very excited about the opportunities for our games in the new platform.