The New Year is coming up, and before that happening, it’s always fun to make some predictions and see what happens. Here are 6—yes, 6—predictions for 2011 regarding iPhone gaming, the App Store, and much more.
More use of the Unreal engine: I think Chair is satisfied with their runaway success Infinity Blade, as evidenced by their free update that just hit not too long ago along with a promise to release another update sometime in January. Besides that, Dungeon Defenders was released using the same Unreal Engine, and although the graphics weren’t as great, it still didn’t look all that bad. With the Unity 3D engine taking up a lot of the App Store for most of the App Store’s life, I think that the Unreal engine will slowly take over. With graphics such as Infinity Blade, the Unreal engine shows huge potential and promise. Just remember that first-person shooter tech demo using the Unreal engine, and then you’ll realize that there is so much more in store for this. And considering Chair’s success with Infinity Blade, I think they’ll create at least one more game on the App Store come next year. A very conservative estimate in my own opinion, as there’s no doubt that Chair is interested in the App Store and what the iPhone brings.
LEGO isn’t done: Come on, who honestly thinks that Lego is going to stop at just Lego Harry Potter YEars 1-4? There’s years 5-7, along with some other Lego franchises on consoles that would work quite nicely on the iPhone and iPad. Considering the amount of praise Lego Harry Potter has received, I honestly think that they’re going to think about making a Lego Star Wars, Lego SOMETHING. And I also think that Warner Bros., the publishers of Lego Harry Potter, knows what it’s doing on the App Store, as it has made their game universal and nearly added GameCenter before finding that it lagged the game. Look out for more Lego adventures in 2011.
Online multiplayer will be what makes games: Now that most of the App Store—or at least the serious developers—know how to create a solid single player experience, a solid online multiplayer experience seems to be the best place to expand to. Honestly, the racing genre is one that has reached the top, in my opinion. Asphalt 6 clearly displays that fact, acting as an almost clone to Asphalt 5 except for the fact that it includes online multiplayer. Also, Modern Combat 2 has shown that a solid and addictive online multiplayer experience is possible on a mobile device, leading me to believe that there are going to be a lot more of those types of games in 2011. So with 2011 approaching, I believe that games will begin to include both solid single player and online multiplayer experiences.
Gameloft will no longer be the top game developer: Asphalt 6 just gave me this feeling: Gameloft can’t produce at a top level anymore. Well, they still produce great games, but the top level has now been set by others: Chair, Crescent Moon Games, and Firemint to name a few. The end of the year surge with so many big name titles raised the quality bar quite high, and I think that other developers will be noted for the high level of games they bring to the App Store. I’m not saying that Gameloft is all of a sudden going to stop producing good games; no, they’re still going to produce. I just think that they’re games won’t be regarded as the best on the platform anymore; that title will go to someone else next year. The only genre that I think they will still thrive in is the first- and third-person shooter genre; they are absolutely unrivaled in those areas.
Apple will allow iPhone gaming to go even further: I think that Apple likes the idea of the iPhone as a handheld gaming machine, and I think in the next iPad, iPhone, and iPod touches, it will reflect that. The iPhone 4 received the Retina display which spiced up a lot of games in terms of graphics, along with adding a gyroscope for some cool—albeit quite useless—gaming effects. There’s no question that the next iPad will have a Retina display; that’s an unspoken thought that everyone regards as most likely true. Something as simple as adding a faster processor isn’t out of the question either, which would allow even more intense games. All in all, Apple will improve the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 (or whatever it’s going to be called) to improve iPhone gaming as a whole.
Mac App Store is going to be filled with casual games: The opening of the Mac App Store isn’t far away—about 6 days left—and I believe it will be regarded as something similar to the App Store for the iPhone and iPad. The iPad was definitely regarded as similar to the iPhone; therefore, most of its games so far have been blown up versions of the iPhone counterpart. I think that a lot of indie developers on the App Store will try and bring their success from iPhone to Mac, and I think the first year of the Mac App Store will be filled with casual games because of that. While something on par with Steam in terms of games catalogue would be nice, I don’t think that will happen for a while.