Rumor: Premium Games Coming to App Store

If the rumors circulating around the Internet are true, Apple is about to take on Nintendo and Sony for mobile games dominance. Actually, this war has already been heating up as Apple's App Store now includes over 15,000 apps for the iPhone and iPod touch--with many of the more popular ones being games--and Apples claims that over half a billion apps have been downloaded from the App store since the App store launched only just over six months ago. Allegedly, the next step for Apple will be to launch a "Premium" games section in the App store, where games from first-tier game developers will be sold for $19.99 each.

If this rumor is true, it comes at an opportune time for Apple, which has just secured 1.1 percent of the world's mobile phone market with the iPhone. If there is any doubt to the popularity and ubiquity of games for the iPhone and iPod touch, the list of 2009 Independent Game Festival Mobile Finalists might sway your opinion--of the five finalists for "IGF Mobile Best Game," three of them are games for the iPhone/iPod Touch. In fact, of the five non-iPhone-specific award categories, iPhone/iPod touch games earn 12 of the 17 finalist nomination spots; and iPhone/iPod touch games get all of the nominations for both the "Achievement in Art" and "Audio Achievement" categories. The winners will be announced on March 24, 2009, at the Independent Games Festival Mobile event in San Francisco.

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As this is still just a rumor at this point, there is no indication yet which game publishers will be producing "Premium" games for the iPhone/iPod touch, but speculates that we'll see games from the likes of large-sized game publishers, such as EA Mobile and Gameloft. As to when the "Premium" games section would be rolled out, sees the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is usually held in June, as a likely timeframe. And while it is doubtful that the folks over at 3rd Power are privy to any specific information about Apple's plans for a "Premium" games section, it would appear that 3rd Power's timing for its March iGamesSummit09--a conference dedicated to games for the iPhone/iPod Touch--comes at exactly the right time.

There has been a heated debate going on for sometime as to which mobile gaming platform has the greatest performance potential. As the iPhone/iPod touch, Sony PSP, and Nintendo DS are very different platforms it is difficult, if not impossible, to come to any sort of definitive resolution--and much of how someone answers this query will likely be based on their own personal preferences. From a pure specs perspective, the iPhone/iPod touch uses more powerful hardware. On the other hand, the iPhone/iPod touch lacks the dedicated gaming controls that the other two gaming-specific platforms have. However, the iPhone/iPod touch's built-in accelerometer and touchscreen can bring some unique innovations to games that simply can't be implemented on the other two mobile gaming platforms.

Feeding fuel to the fire is a second set of rumors going around that Apple has a new iPhone in the works--based on the recent discovery of a new iPhone version number hidden in the latest iPhone firmware update. Some are speculating that this new iPhone--if it in fact even exists--will offer much more powerful, "Multi-Core CPUs and possibly Multi-Core GPUs from Imagination Technologies." Such a device would be perfectly suited to challenge the PSP and DS, along with a bevy of first-tier game titles. Now we just have to wait and see how this all plays out.