With new advancements in AR and graphic technology, Apple aims at the mobile gaming crown.
There’s no denying that Apple rules the mobile phone market, and now, the watch industry as well. However, one place the mega company has never claimed a solid share in has been mobile gaming. While the amount of iPhone’s currently in use far surpasses the number of 3DS and Vita units, it’s safe to say that mobile gaming has always been a small feature of the device. In previous years, Apple tried to invigorate their mobile gaming features, adding in better processers, more first-party support, and an integrated Game Center app that keeps track of achievements and friend lists. However, many games kept their own integrated friend systems, and the limited size of the phone (and battery drain) kept large publishers away.
Apple aims to change all that, however, with the iPhone 8, announced today. On top of the usual phone upgrades (camera, usability, etc) it features Apple’s new Bionic 64-bit processor, with two of the six cores dedicated entirely to heavy processing like games. It also features an entirely new and custom graphics chip, created to support the new AR initiative in mobile gaming. Of course, most games can benefit from the upped power, which finally places the iPhone in the area needed for true 4k gaming.
Moving to AR gaming represents a big step, and one that the other big players in mobile gaming, Sony and Nintendo, have only experimented with. Both the Vita and 3DS have AR capabilities, and some games have used them to a small degree, but usually as an ‘add on’ instead of a feature. AR games have seen an increase in popularity over the last year, owed almost entirely to the success of Pokemon Go, but even that title used the AR function as an optional enhancement (and one that was generally turned off).
Directive Games, based in Shanghai, China, wants to change that, demoing an entirely AR-based multiplayer game, The Machines, at the Apple Expo today. Described as part MOBA (Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends) and part RTS (Starcraft), the entirely-AR game sees players controlling small forces of troops across any flat, horizontal surface, such as a table. Moving the phone around the table provides a different view of the action, and zooming in is done by literally holding the phone closer to the action. While initial footage is still considered beta, the surprisingly detailed graphics and immersive gameplay show a lot of promise for the future of phone based gaming.
For traditional gamers, a dedicated machine such as the Switch may always be the go-to for on the go gaming, especially with a wide library of games specifically built for the system. Other gamers may prefer the feel of physical buttons, or simply not want to drain the battery of the same device they use for phone, text, emails, and other functions. Dominating the gaming market for a device that is already in everyone’s pocket, however, might just be the key for Apple to finally market the iPhone as a game system on par with it’s other capabilities.