Nearly two years ago, the mobile gaming revolution was put into motion with the opening of the iTunes App Store. Seemingly overnight, thousands of great titles like Flight Control, Peggle and Fieldrunners became available for pocket play. While the iPhone deservedly gets most of the attention for being a pioneer in the space, it is certainly not the only game in town.
Here is a rundown of the best devices available for mobile gaming.
Arguably the most successful and influential piece of technology to emerge in the 21st century, the iPhone is a touchscreen device with a 3.5-inch display that delivers a world of games right to your fingertips. Approximately 60 percent of the nearly 200,000 apps currently available in the iTunes App Store are games. There are iPhone apps for hard-core gamers, board game aficionados, and sports games nuts among others.
Among the gee-whiz technological components for the iPhone are the multi-touch screen (which allows you to expand and compress images) and accelerometer (which is great for tilting). Pricing for iPhone games typically range from free to $9.99. More recently, popular developers like ngmoco are incorporating "freemium" pricing models that offer free downloads and regular in-app purchases along the way.
This summer, Apple will release its 4G iPhone which will allow for multi-tasking between apps. This will make it possible to play games and do other things like listen to music or check email concurrently. Until then, the 3G and 3GS iPhone models are the way to go.
Most new models can be obtained for $99, but come with a long-term plan from AT&T.
From a gaming perspective, the iPod touch offers nearly everything the iPhone provides. Downloading apps or participating in multi-player games requires wireless Internet access. The iPod touch does not have 3G connection capabilities, nor does it have the monthly AT&T plan associated with it. This is a great device if you are interested in playing iPhone games but are on an alternate cell phone plan.
The 16GB iPod touch starts at $199.
Beyond just a big iPod touch, the Apple's new tablet computer represents the next generation in mobile gaming. The 9.7-inch screen size and faster processing speed contextually provide a different gaming experience.
"The experience is not moving to the living room," explains Bart Decrem, CEO of Tapulous, developer of the popular "tap tap" series of iPhone games and Tap Tap Radiation for the iPad.
Increasingly, the best new titles will appear on the iPad first, and then later will be reconfigured for the iPhone. While the first batch of iPads only had wireless Internet access, at started at $499. The 3G-enabled versions will ship by May 7, and come with AT&T data plans that are considerably less than the iPhone. This makes sense as you can't actually use the iPad as a phone.
Smart phones that use Google's Android are available on T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T plans. Among the most popular are HTC's Droid, Motorola's CLIQ and Google's Nexus One. Nearly 20 percent of the approximately 40,000 apps in the Android Marketplace are games. As each device is different, the gaming experience is varies. Still, expect more developer interest in Android games and other applications as Apple tightens its restrictions on what it allows in the App Store.