Interview: Apple VP on iPhone Gaming

Kikizo talks to Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod and iPhone product marketing at Apple, about the App Store phenomenon and the potential of the iPhone to dominate handheld gaming.

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Kikizo: Do you think DS and PSP gamers will respond to the platform?

Joswiak: As a hardware platform for gaming it's really interesting; as well as those things I mentioned, it has really good 3D performance, great computing power and a 3.5-inch touch-screen display, as well s the accelerometer, which is something we've seen our developers, and especially our game developers, take great advantage of. When you compare it to hardware like the DS, which is the biggest-selling handheld gaming device, not only is it smaller, but it has a bigger screen, greater computing power, better 3D, and it's also your iPod.

The advantages really are driven in large part by the App Store. In the time since launch there were 6,000 applications in the store and over 200 million downloads - and the biggest category has been games. There are over 1,500 of them which, as you know, is more than these guys combined. Obviously, we're early in this, and we're going to have a lot more games as developers get more time with the platform, but still an amazing amount of games have been made in a short time.

Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod and iPhone product marketing at Apple
Photo Credit: Greg Joswiak by macevangelist

Kikizo: Aside from quantity, what are the advantages of the App Store?

Joswiak: There are a lot of advantages to the App Store deployment. One is that every customer has the App Store: it's limitless shelf-space which makes that title available to every single iPhone and iPod Touch customer, which is huge. There are no physical goods to worry about - no licensing or hardware manufacture, getting forecasts wrong, having to take product back, returns from customers, dealing with bugs - a lot of things that make the physical business difficult. As a result, this becomes a much more efficient way of delivering the software for the developer, and it can offer better prices.

Kikizo: In terms of pricing, do you think this is the sweet spot?

Joswiak: These are easily under ten pounds and most are under five pounds. What we typically see is people buying more titles, because it's a lot easier - it's a much smaller investment, and it's a much smaller decision to try a new title that only costs you 5. A lot of people are now scrambling to work out what they're going to do to catch up with the App Store.

Kikizo: Are the smaller developers really competing with the established players?

Joswiak: What we'd like to do is show off the games - the 3D and the casual ones. Everyone from the big developers is excited - the EAs, the Gamelofts, Hudsons and Segas - but what's also cool is the small guys. You get the one or two-developer shops like the Pangeas, who are doing a great business, with anecdotal stories like paying off their home mortgages after a month or two of being in the store. Neil Young, a big name in gaming who was at EA, formed a start-up just for making games for the iPod Touch and the iPhone. He's got a lot of titles in the pipeline. There are also ratings, which really helps level the playing field between the big guys and the small guys. Because if a small guy makes a title that gets good ratings, it tends to bubble up: the cream does rise.

Proof that the smaller games stand up to the big guns: ICOPTER is our most played game on iPhone to date, even though it's a remake of a web game we first played six or seven years ago and costs $0.99

Kikizo: What criteria do you have to fulfil? You don't have to have a 'publisher' do you?

Joswiak: Exactly. It's not somewhere you have to be represented by somebody; you have to be in the development programme, which is very inexpensive. There's an agreement - obviously we're not allowing misbehaving apps and so on. It's a very smooth process for developers to get their apps in the store, and obviously our goals are aligned with their goals, which are aligned with the customers' goals: let's get lots of apps out.

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