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What year has been the best for iOS gaming 2nd Edition

12-20-2012, 02:15 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Posts: 285
What year has been the best for iOS gaming 2nd Edition

Now that 2012 is about to draw to a close I want to ask this question to the TA community again. What year has been the best for iOS gaming to date?

In 2008, games first started to appear on iDevices. While some of the early attempts at games were a little underwhelming, we did see a few early favorites such as Tap Tap Revenge, TouchGrind, Rolando, Hero of Sparta, Labyrinth, Dropship, and a few others. There were also some disappointments, as the hardware wasn't quite ready to handle the ways early developers pushed it, so as a result we got disappointments like Super Monkey Ball.

In 2009, the momentum began to pick up. Many of 08's games recieved sequels in 09. Titles such as Rolando 2, Tap Tap Revenge 2, and Labyrinth 2 gave the iPhone it's first true platform-exclusive franchises. Three of the most iconic iDevice games, Doodle Jump, Pocket God, and Angry Birds, were all released in 2009. Angry Birds, the latter of these games, was eventually ported to other major platforms, including consoles. These games are still receiving updates as we speak, which gives the platform a distinct edge compared to other handhelds because the games were updated to include new content. These games also made casual and some hardcore gamers take notice of the platform.

And speaking of hardcore gaming, the industry's AAA publishers, such as Square Enix, Activision, and EA, started to provide installments in their core franchises, such as Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Call of Duty Zombies, and Rock Band, to the iPhone. By the end of 2009, the iPhone was now competing head-to-head with the DS and PSP.

Of course, not everything was peachy-keen in 2009.In the middle of the year, Apple introduced in-app purchases. While at first an app had to be paid in order to use in-app purchases, it didn’t take long for Apple to rescind that rule and allow free apps to have iAP, opening the floodgates for a highly criticized new business model: Freemium games. Early titles such as Eliminate and Touch Pets Dogs made players purchase upgrades if they wanted to continue playing. The trend continued into 2010, with titles such as We Rule, GodFinger, and Capcom Arcade.

In 2010, a brand new addition to the iDevice family was introduced: the iPad, essentially a large-screen version of the devices that had come before it. This increased the market for Applications, and developers could charge more for the iPad version if they wanted to, but also add new features that simply weren't possible on the smaller screens. More hardcore franchises, such as Grand Theft Auto, Tony Hawk, and Rayman, also made their way to the iDevices, ported from their respective consoles.

2010 saw some of the biggest original titles hit the iDevices. Chaos Rings, a title from Square Enix, officially broke the $9.99 price barrier and became a critical and commercial hit, proving that a market for premium productions was there as long as the developer brought their A-game along with them (and in the case of Chaos Rings, they did). Many other heavy original titles, such as Warpgate, Aralon Sword and Shadow, Real Racing 2, and Infinity Blade, also made their way to the iDevices.

2010 also saw the release of the iPhone 4, with its signature "Retina Display", allowing for higher resolution graphics than ever before. Many developers were forced to scramble and rebuild their assets so they looked even better on the display. In addition, Apple released their Game Center, which allowed deveolpers to once-and-for-all use a fully-integrated social networking and achievements system for their games.

2010 also added another new face to its league of Casual Evergreens- Cut the Rope, a simple but addicting physics puzzle game, debuted in October, and with it, its adorable green alien soon became another mascot for the iDevice platforms.

There were some disappointments in 2010. Tapulous’ Riddim Ribbon turned out to be a massive flop, and even it's "reboot" later in the year ultimately couldn't save it. The loss of Riddim Ribbon forced Tapulous, one of the early leading developers for the platform, to be bought out by Disney. Mirror's Edge, while a fun game, suffered an agonizing five-month delay in it's coming to the smaller iDevices compared to it's iPad version, despite being the first version announced. In addition, people were getting even more wary with the continuous separation of iOS capable devices. But overall, 2010 mostly continued where 2009 left off- bigger and better games, pushing the hardware even harder than before.

2011 continued the trend of bigger and better that had begun in 2010. More games started to use the Unreal Engine, first introduced at the end of 2010 with Infinity Blade. This game engine, a popular one on consoles and PC, brought iOS graphics closer to console quality than ever before. A few games that used this engine included Dream:scape, The Dark Meadow, Batman Arkham City, Infinity Blade II, and Epoch.

2011 also added three new mascot-worthy iOS games to the platform, all of which are still being imitated today. Jetpack Joyride was an endless game with a mission-based experience system that made it really addictive, and many, many titles that came afterwards still use it today, including Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Punch Quest. After several false starts, Where's My Water? finally allowed Disney to have it's own iOS star: a cute alligator named Swampy. Where's My Water was so popular that it led to both a web series and a “Phineas and Ferb”-themed spinoff, "Where's My Perry?". Last, but not least, Temple Run took the endless runner genre forward into 3-D, and it hasn't looked back since. In addition, it FINALLY got freemium game balance right, combining addictive gameplay that's fun right off the bat with realistically achievable power-ups without having to pay. Temple Run's popularity led to a Pixar-themed spinoff based on their recent film "Brave". Other popular iOS classics included Tiny Wings, Tiny Tower, and Superbrothers:Sword and Sworcery EP, though that last one was a bit too arty for some tastes.

As fun as these games were for both casual and core players, gamers looking for more console franchises certainly weren't left out. Before 2011 was out, Dead Space, Sonic CD, FIFA 12, Sid Meier's PIRATES! and many more big-name games made their way to iOS. With the power of these devices increasing by the year, all of these games came much closer to the console versions than was ever thought possible.

Two major events shook up the iOS world in 2011. First was the introduction of the iPhone 4S, arguably the least substantial upgrade between iOS generations to date. Apple finally broke their yearly release cycle and did not release the phone until October, a full four months after their traditional June launch. Many, many iOS owners, including myself were hoping for the iPhone 5 to arrive, but sadly that wouldn't happen.
In March of that year, the iPad 2 was also released. A bigger, badder, and better version of the original, the 2 added features such as a front-facing camera that made it a more attractive option for prospective buyers.

The second major event was the passing of Apple's founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, only a day after introducing the 4S. Jobs was a big part of Apple's culture and PR, and his presentations were always a joy to watch, even if the products themselves weren't always exciting. Jobs' passing sent shockwaves throughout the entire electronics industry, in perhaps the biggest public death since Michael Jackson's in 2009. Jobs will forever be missed by those who owned and loved any Apple products.

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12-20-2012, 02:16 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Posts: 285
But that leads us into 2012. With a different CEO at the helm, Apple decided to take their iDevice line in new directions this year. First was the release of the iPhone 5, with a radical design change to the standard screen size. The widescreen display allowed for a 16:9 aspect ratio, allowing gamers to see more in their apps than ever before. The screen's bigger display meant that many developers were to once again scramble to re-configure their apps for the new standard of device. As of this writing, there are only a few apps that have been re-configured to take advantage of the new screen size, with many still stuck in the standard display mode. The iPod Touch, which had not seen an update since 2010, also received a similar upgrade.

The second new product was the iPad Mini. Bigger than an iPhone, but smaller than an iPad, the Mini encapsulated the full iPad 2 experience in a smaller form factor. How the public has responded to this new device is still up in the air.

Finally, Apple launched not one, but two new full-sized iPads in 2012, not even 8 months apart from each other. Both of these iPads featured Retina Displays, with resolutions that exceeded many TVs on the market. Apple really launched themselves into hardware overkill in 2012, but it resulted in yet more new users and more demanding games. And more demanding the games indeed got.

While there were a few games released in 2011 that required the iPhone 4 and up, 2012 was when they REALLY started to hit. The World Ends With You, Shadowguneadzone, Ravensword Shadowlands, Drakerider, Horn, Lili, Bastion, ARC Squadron, and countless others all required the iPhone 4 and up, or even worse, the 4S and up. With these increasingly demanding specs, many iOS owners, especially those with iPod Touch devices, were simply left out in the cold for much of 2012 unless they decided to upgrade their device. The tradeoff for increasing device restrictions was more impressive looking games. Many of the games listed had graphics that could easily rival those on consoles.

With that said, there were plenty of games released in 2012 that didn't require such hefty devices. Some great low-requirements games released include Vergence, Rayman Jungle Run, Button Brigade, Kingdom Rush, and many many more. Draw Something received plenty of attention early in the year, eventually leading to a multi-million dollar purchase by social gaming giant Zynga, and a game show adaptation in the works.

Rovio really kicked things up this year, earning both praise as well as disdain in the process. They released no less than THREE Angry Birds titles in 2012, as many in one year as they had released previously. Angry Birds Space, Bad Piggies, and Angry Birds Star Wars all recieved critical and commercial praise, but many TA forum members felt burnt out by all of the birdy goodness. Regardless of how you may feel about the franchise, Angry Birds simply dominated iOS this year. But they didn’t stop there. In a controversial move, Rovio purchased a third-party game called “Casey’s Contraptions”, had it pulled from the app store, and re-branded it as a “new” game called “Amazing Alex”. While the original game was an iPad exclusive, Amazing Alex was available for all devices. Still, it seemed a little shady.

Another iOS classic showed up quite recently. Punch Quest was a freemium game that combined the brawler with the endless runner, and got a lot of attention on TouchArcade forums. However, it's attempt to make the freemium pricing model as non-intrusive as possible backfired on its developers, Rocketcat and Madgarden, forcing them to make the game a paid app in order to make some money, and further highlighting problems with the Freemium model. Nevertheless, the game is ridiculously polished and incredibly addictive, and is worth downloading on any device that can run it even if you have to pay to do it.

Although console franchises still showed up on iOS, some of them simply weren't up to the standards that gamers expected of them. Mass Effect Infiltrator and Borderlands Legends in particular disappointed many gamers due to their lack of resemblance to their counterparts. Still, many good ports were released in 2012, including The World Ends With You, The Last Express, Bastion, The Walking Dead, and Lunar Silver Star Story.
Overall 2012, was perhaps one of the busiest years for iOS gaming yet. Between the massive hardware overhaul and the increasingly high quality of games, 2012 proved one thing: iOS gaming is getting better by the year.

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12-20-2012, 02:49 PM
Joined: May 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 6,758
Wow. How much time did you spend writing this essay up?
Enjoyed it quite a bit, and learned some new things. Didn't realize that IAPs were originally only for paid apps.
12-20-2012, 03:13 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Posts: 285
I actually wrote half of this back in 2010.

Yes, as odd as it may seem, apps used to be paidmium. I remember when Tap Tap Revenge 3 came out, it was controversial because previous games in the series were free yet they wanted to charge for licensed songs, so they made the game paid for the first few months that it was out. I think about a week after the release is when Apple changed the rules for iAP, which made me very mad.

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12-20-2012, 03:30 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Philippines
Posts: 22,664
Yeah great read indeed. But since i started iOS gaming in late-2010, I have to say 2012 simply blew me away.

Exact-Psience My 2014 Top 10 Games of the Year: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Hearthstone, VVVVVV, Battleheart Legacy, Wayward Souls, Bug Heroes 2, Powerpuff Girls Defenders of Townsville, Deep Loot, Monument Valley, Bioshock Honorable Mentions: Traps N Gemstones, Bardbarian, Goblin Sword
12-20-2012, 06:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Houston/Austin, TX
Posts: 13,250
I'd still say 2010. The genres weren't all so over-saturated yet. Imagine this: Angry Birds had to work to break into the top 10 that year. Best December ever as well.

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12-20-2012, 06:54 PM
Doctor of Game of the Week-ology
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
Posts: 7,679
For games alone, this year no doubt. With releases like The Walking Dead and Bastion, the app store was really pushed to the limit. They just keep getting bigger and better. As for the market as a whole, I'd say 2010 as well. It was when iOS gaming truly took off, and IAP was nowhere to be seen. Top it all off with plenty of iOS originals that launched during that year.
12-20-2012, 08:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Location: A state in a country in a continent in the world
Posts: 937
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I started this year, but I have to say this year has been absolutely f💩cking AMAZING.
12-20-2012, 08:42 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,030
Wow! Nice nostalgic look back. Thanks for the write up.

Perhaps this year from strictly the level and quality of games.

But I feel 2009 was a pretty spectacular year. Everything was still fairly new and developers were showing what the device was capable of. The touch aspect of gaming was a new concept and was brilliant seeing how devs used this. One game not listed in the history was Flight Control. This game blew everyone away. This was really the first game to take the 'touch' aspect and integrate it perfectly. It spurred on a whole new genre. It was games like this that really sparked 2009 to new ideas and made 2009 a great year for iOS gaming.
12-21-2012, 04:52 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Posts: 285
Forgot about that one, but yes, absolute classic right there.

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