iPhone Gamers Rejecting the Same-Old? Not Really.

By  |  Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 4:52 pm

iphone3The games industry has a reputation for being risk-averse, often tacking on numerals to existing franchises or spewing out endless iterations of solitaire and poker. While that strategy flies in the console and computer gaming world, one game company exec claims the landscape is different on the iPhone. I’m skeptical.

“We notice that brands don’t do that well on the iPhone, nor do generic games like poker or bowling,” Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins — who has long since moved on and now owns Digital Chocolate — said in an interview with VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi.

I want to believe this, but the data I’m finding doesn’t support what Hawkins says, especially in regards to “generic” games. Looking at comScore’s recent App download chart, iBowl and Touch Hockey: FS5 are the second and fourth-most downloaded games, respectively. Pac-Man came in third place. Slightly down the list, you find Hangman, So! Solitaire and Sudoku, which are about as generic as you can get. (First place, admittedly, belongs to Tap Tap Revenge, a wildly popular rhythm game.)

Additionally, you can look back to a game-specific chart from last July and find seven sudoku and five solitaire titles in the top 100.

Before poking around for these charts, I almost wrote a piece taking Hawkins’ remarks wholesale. It’s enticing to cheer on the iPhone as a pillar of creativity, especially when Hawkins talks about games that “make social connections.” The idea that original content has the best chance of going viral sounds good in theory.

And there are holes in my argument, too. Digital Chocolate has hit number one in the sales charts with four different games, always relying on new IP, so Hawkins isn’t totally off base. There’s also the issue of free vs. paid, which the above charts don’t take into account. Finally, we have seen a few really cool games, regardess of sales.

But at least in terms of mass popularity, you can’t argue with the tried-and-true.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom B Says:

    What fraction of PC games are “same-old”? Most of them, I bet. For every Spore, there’s a zillion Free-cells, or Minesweepers. At least the iPhone ENABLES some creative games, with the hardware accelerometer and the 21st century development platform for the software.

  2. Jared Newman Says:

    Well, there’s a ton of creativity in the PC indie scene. Check out Karoshi 2.0, ROM CHECK FAIL, N, Iji and Aether (or anything by Edmund McMillen, for that matter).

    But it is nice that some of indie titles (like Passage and Jetset) go to the iPhone to try and get some revenue.