At the break of the new year, I listed 20 predictions for Digital Media in 2009. The third prediction was:
iPhone Gaming Will Progress Beyond Novelty
At the time of that article, the biggest application was iFart which, while not a traditional game, represented what one of three game types to successfully hit the iPhone:
1. Accelerometer based games (SGN is the king here)
2. Role playing games / storyline games (such as iMob and SGN's Agency Wars)
3. Novelty games (iFart, Beer Pong)
I find games like iMob and Agency Wars fascinating because they are perfect for the iPhone: always connected, progressing storylines and ideal for several short play sessions.
I also think that what SGN has built for with their accelerometer-based sports games is terrific - bringing together the Wii's form-factor with the connectivity of mobile (and now Facebook Connect).
But I want more. I find the current gaming offers interesting.... but mostly ephemeral. Nothing, for instance, I would shell out $9.99 or $29.99 for... after all, Playstation 3 games now run $59.99 - and I spend a lot more time with my iPhone.
The next generation of iPhone gaming needs to look back to the original Nintendo. Place the original track pad and A/B buttons on the iPod's touch screen... and use traditional gameplay navigations that have been a staple of controllers for ages:
Even though it is less sexy than developing against the iPhone's accelerometer, gameplay would be richer and longer-lasting. Super Monkey Ball is fun... but the novelty wears off soon there after - particularly when the controls aren't terrific.
Imagine connected, online equivalents of Super Mario 3 or Zelda that play on the iPhone and tap into Facebook Connect... it might not be sexy (and I might be dating myself) but it would be powerful. And with the creativity and horsepower developing against the iPhone - why can't the next Mario, Zelda and Metroid emerge?
Update: To be clear, I am not suggesting that the iPhone bring back Nintendo games (see comments); rather, the point was that Nintendo-inspired controls would introduce more compelling games on the iPhone.