The iPhone platform is more popular to write games for than the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, according to a new study from Game Developer Research. Demand for the iPhone has surged to where about 19 percent of all game developers are writing for the iPhone and iPod touch. The figure is more than twice as high as for the DS and PSP and results in three quarters of all mobile game developers writing for Apple’s handhelds.
Mobile games represent about 25 percent of the entire game development community, or more than twice the 12 percent from before. Apple’s presence is believed to have spurred on most of the growth.
The shift also puts the iPhone OS in a favorable light compared to traditional TV console developers. Although the Mac/PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 still have the brunt of support at 70, 69 and 61 percent each, interest in writing for the Wii actually fell from 42 percent in 2008 to just 30 percent. Nintendo’s child-oriented image and a general lack of interest for third-party games contributed to its slump.
Developers responding to GDR didn’t specifically address the reasons for moving to the iPhone and iPod. However, they claimed that their choices of platform were often dictated by level of market influence as well as the ease of writing code. The ability to port code and the costs of development were also elements.
Apple’s devices have been helped both by the sheer publicity of the platform as well as the centralized, Internet-based nature of its apps. As developers at least temporarily get high levels of exposure and don’t have to pay for a separate publisher or retail deal, the potential exists for much more practical revenue than at stores, even with prices a third or less than what they would charge for DS or PSP copies. These also often don’t have to worry about lost revenue from used copies being resold at GameStop and similar stores.
The transition to the iPhone is partly evident through the number of ports. While many are producing original titles, games like the Assassin’s Creed series and Civilization Revolution are actually Nintendo DS versions modified to use the touchscreen and improved performance of Apple’s machines.