Should I buckle and buy an iPad? Snap up the reworked Civilization Revolution to laze for hours on the couch tapping out dispatches to my own personal Cleopatra, Bismarck, or Lincoln? Spring for the snazzier high definition iteration of Plants vs. Zombies to futz around with pole-vaulters, snorkelers, bobsledders, and this version’s finger-tangling 11 simultaneous touch points? Hold the iPad up like a placard and induce vertigo, tilting it left and right to jockey muscle cars and exotic autos along sinuous forest tracks in Real Racing HD?
With an application library cruising at a comfortable sales altitude of well over six figures, it’s getting harder to write the platform off as an iPod XL. I want to give EA’s swipe-interface side-scroller Mirror’s Edge a try, rekindle my Scrabble fetish with two-player tabletop (nothing to pull out or put away!), and clinch kickflips, ollies, and shuvits on a pair of nimble finger-legs with Touch Grind HD.
1. Take gaming seriously, Apple. Books a spot at trade shows like E3 and developer’s conferences like GDC. Don’t shove that responsibility off on the developers. You’re just like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo–you’ve created a discrete platform. You’re leading the way in mobile touch-based interfaces. Your sales are in the millions. Get out there and sell this puppy to gamers from a gaming standpoint. Your current muted live-and-let-someone-else-liven-things-up strategy just looks lazy.
2. Get off your self-serving anti-Flash high-horse, Steve Jobs. The number of web-based Flash games dwarves your App Store’s library. The Android just got Flash player 10.1 and access to Kongregate’s massive games library (starting with 120 that work off the mat growing to more than 28,000 once developers tweak their interfaces). Follow Android’s lead, and make installing it a choice, not a requirement. Still don’t like Flash? Tough. In a world where Flash’s gaming audience alone may be twice the size of the console games market, it’s called compromise. (The latter’s why the internet works at all, frankly.)
3. Release a wireless gamepad for the iPad. No wires, no funky ports, no kludgy hybrid on-and-off-screen combos, just something sleek and simple. The iPad’s direct input touch and tilt controls work gangbusters for some games, but clearly prohibit the adoption of others. One interface will not rule them all, especially when we’re talking the increasing strata of gamer types.
4. Widescreen 1280 x 720 (i.e. 720p) support, and some sort of ‘video out’ adapter. (HDMI would be lovely!)
5. You’re off the hook for this last one, Apple: Add the iPhone and iPad to your platform rosters, games press. No more apologetic one-off features because you’re too busy (or lazy, or intimidated) to care. No more insincere cheerleading for the same ‘top [insert number]’ iPad games before you bury the story in PS3XboxWii battle news. Yes, the App Store’s library can be overwhelming, but a lot of it’s junk, and–now more than ever–Apple gamers would appreciate insightful critics who can spotlight the gems.