Universal Is iOS really a bad platform for games?

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,222
374
Brazil
I have an iPhone X and an iPad Pro, and I have owned several iPhones and one iPad before them. For years now, I have tried to play games on these devices, and, save for rare exceptions, all I got was frustration. Not to get me wrong, the iPhone X is a powerful machine, with great graphic capabilities, and so is the iPad.

From my experience, iOS games are seriously lacking in two areas:
  1. Controls. The touchscreen provides a bad experience for most games, which are generally designed to work with physical buttons. I tried to play games designed for home consoles on iOS devices, such as Street Fighter II, Sonic the Hedgehog, DuckTales, and Castle of Illusion, but the experience was sub-optimal. There are very few games which have good controls. One example would be Marvel: Contest of Champions, but even then the controls are over-simplified so they can work nicely with the touchscreen. I know that I can buy an external controller, with real physical buttons, for iOS devices, but then portability is somewhat sacrificed. In addition, in most situations, it is just awkward to use an external controller to play a game on an iOS device, except if you are at home.
  1. Business model. I think this is the biggest problem here. The vast majority of iOS games (and I dare to say, the ones with the best gameplay) are free to play, but allow the user to buy additional content via microtransactions (the in-app purchases). I have nothing against this freemium model in principle: I am glad to pay for removing ads, for instance. And I am of course glad to pay for any game. The problem is most games seem to be following the "pay-to-win" model. In this model, I can only advance in the game if I pay. Then, another obstacle comes up, and I have to pay again. And again. And again. I can pay once, or twice, or three times, but I refuse to pay forever just to keep playing. If I do not pay, it will take countless hours of improvements so I can advance, and the game gets really frustrating. I hear people say that the solution is simple: just stop playing the game. But the fact is that if I count out all these pay-to-win games, there are very few games left in the App Store.
I acknowledge that this is not a problem of iOS only. The same thing happens to Android. And it is shocking that Apple sold some 2 billion iOS devices so far, and there are some other 2 billion Android active devices, and there is a lack of good games with great gameplay and that do not rip you off. There are some good games, such as Super Mario Run or Dragon Hills, but very few, especially compared to the number of active devices.

I would be glad to be proven wrong, though. I would appreciate recommendations of decent games. Decent in both senses: games that have great gameplay and which do not try to steal your money.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,350
8,699
Prescott Valley, AZ
Yes, I believe that iOS is a poor platform for certain types of games (for the reasons you stated). Those reasons aren't technological hurdles that cannot be overcome, but deliberate business decisions by Apple. I can take my Logitech F310 game controller and plug it into any Android phone/tablet and it is recognized by the device and supported by the games. I suspect that the same would be true for the bluetooth version (F710).

While the F310 is not as portable as on-screen controls, there are other smaller options that work as well.

I have the Logitech PowerShell for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It is thin and sleek, has an on-board battery to extended the phone/iPod's battery life, and when inserted into the PowerShell, it looks a little like a mini Nintendo Switch. It is so super portable it (physically) is the perfect solution for physical game controls.

The PowerShell should've been a smash hit. It wasn't. I think the greatest reason for that is, as with most things in iOS, support for game controllers is not baked into iOS itself but requires app developers to code that support into each of their apps. Developers didn't want to expend the resources to develop and test their games with the PowerShell because there weren't many PowerShells sold, and the PowerShell wasn't selling because there weren't enough games that supported it. Classic chicken/egg scenario.

Because of a lack of support for physical controllers, console-type games don't sell well. I have Atari Classics for iOS. It is very well done and a great value for the money. It didn't sell well and wasn't updated and so is no longer in the app Store. Again, I think it didn't sell well because playing console and arcade games with a touchscreen is a poor experience.

I have my iPad 2 dedicated as my iCade machine. I've kept it at iOS 9 (or maybe 10, don't recall at the moment) so that I can use iMame (that was briefly in the app store until Apple pulled it). That combo is a terrific gaming system.
The hardware and software can certainly be capable, but only if Apple allows it.
 

MisterSavage

macrumors 68000
Nov 10, 2018
1,531
1,233
Don't disagree with what you said. The controller issue is huge. It's torture trying to play games on a touchscreen that are obviously made for a controller.

I do think it's the perfect platform for digital card games like Hearthstone.

A AAA title I've been really enjoying is The Witness (no IAP). I wish they would update the resolution to the new IPP models but still a blast.
 

mtngoatjoe

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2008
233
33
I only play a few games by Supercell, so my perspective isn't very high. But I've really enjoyed Clash Royal, Clash of Clans, and Brawl Stars. Maybe it's that I don't expect consul style gaming on a phone???
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,350
8,699
Prescott Valley, AZ
Don't disagree with what you said. The controller issue is huge. It's torture trying to play games on a touchscreen that are obviously made for a controller.

I do think it's the perfect platform for digital card games like Hearthstone.

A AAA title I've been really enjoying is The Witness (no IAP). I wish they would update the resolution to the new IPP models but still a blast.
Yes! Card games are great on it. So are digital versions of boardgames.

I'm a bit ticked at Apple for forcing EveryGame off the app store. For those who don't remember or know about this app, it was a framework for creating digital versions of boardgames that didn't require any programming knowledge. I created a few games, including a digital version of Zombie Plague (print n play) which used the iPad as the gameboard, chits, and die. It was very easy to create games and play games.

It would've been great for use on the 12.9 Pro, but Apple removed it before the 12.9 was released.
 

iCole

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2010
187
14
It's a good platform if the games are optimized for touch screen. And if they aren't riddled with MT. RPGs, puzzel, ... work well.