To date, Apple's efforts to bring gaming to the iPod has met with mixed success. Despite partnerships with such high-profile companies as Electronic Arts, Harmonix, Sega, and Namco, the limitations of the multimedia handheld's clickwheel as a controller have proven difficult for developers to overcome.
Today, though, Apple announced it is bringing games to its most coveted handheld, the iPhone. At a conference today live-blogged by GameSpot sister site News.com, CEO Steve Jobs announced that his company was opening up its own iPhone software developers' kit (SDK) and application programming interfaces (APIs) outside Apple for free. This move will allow all sorts of companies to begin designing applications for the white-hot communicator, which Apple hopes to sell 10 million units of by year's end.
Naturally, game publishers will be among the developers wanting to tap the iPhone market. Apple rolled out two major companies--EA and Sega--to show what they could do in just two weeks with the development kit. EA managed a herculean feat, adapting the Mac version of Will Wright's long-in-the-making, evolutionary/civilization building/space exploration game Spore. Sega trotted out a new edition of Super Monkey Ball, which had to have its graphics upgraded for the iPhone.
Apple also showed off Touch Fighter, which it billed as the "the first official game for the iPhone." Developed in just two weeks, the space combat game lets players control an X-Wing-like fighter ship by using the iPhone's internal accelerometer. The person demonstrating the game used his iPhone like a steering wheel, precluding the need for any thumbpad, control stick, or buttons.
While free to download, the iPhone SDK is not without cost. According to Jobs, Apple will take 30 percent of all sales from the iPhone's App Store, the sole means of uploading and downloading third-party applications to iPhones. However, for its cut, Apple takes care of hosting, distribution, and retail duties, freeing developers from such chores. (Free applications will be hosted and distributed for free.) The App Store, which News.com said was reminiscent of the iPhone's Wi-Fi Music Store, also completely circumvents iTunes, allowing direct download to iPhones via Wi-Fi or AT&T's Edge wireless network.