updated 10:15 pm EDT, Mon March 23, 2009
Young talks up iPhone
Neil Young, co-founder of ngmoco, praised the iPhone during his keynote address at the Game Developers Conference, according to Gamasutra. "Our love affair with the iPhone began by simply touching it," he said. "This was rapidly becoming the most important device I had ever owned, it was an all-encompassing, complete device. And I knew that that device was going to enable incredible things for gaming."
The company's game library currently includes six titles for the iPhone and iPod touch, including Topple 2, Rolando and WordFu. Investment firms have also seen opportunity with Apple's mobile gaming platform. Norwest Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkis Caufield & Byers, and Maples Investments have pledged a total of $10 million in series B investment funds toward ngmoco's operations.
Because the iPhone is "always on, always with you," Young considers the device "better than the DS, better than the PSP." He also argued that, from a business standpoint, "there were no first-party games" and the device adoption rates have easily exceeded the DS and PSP, quickly closing the lifetime sales gap despite the iPhone's relatively recent introduction. Additionally, both the number of new App Store titles and purchases appear to follow an exponential curve.
"Don't let the haters tell you it sucks compared to the DS or the PSP," he said. "It doesn't. It's good. It's clear that the quality of iPhone games is eclipsing its [portable] console counterparts, and that's even more acute when you compare it against the prior generation."
Young demonstrated the graphics capabilities with slides from current 3D iPhone games, while cautioning that graphics and sound alone do not necessarily make a great app.
He suggested the mobile segment can learn important lessons from Nintendo, a company that held a leadership position within the gaming market despite hardware specs that fell short of competitors' products. "Nintendo was able to win that battle by combining great software with hardware that it understood very well."
If Nintendo developed games for Apple's platform, Young speculates that "the designs would be progressive, discontinuous, and would have the user and the user's context always in mind. They would have great underlying game design with native device functionality at the core."
Other industry sources recently suggested that Nintendo may be putting pressure on its developers to compete with the iPhone and the iPod touch. Attendees at the company's developer conference allegedly were presented with plans to add a number of smaller titles to the DS Shop and DSi Ware services, while expanding the software to include non-gaming apps.
"I know that there is a general malaise over the game industry today, but I can say it's never been a better time to be an independent game developer," Young said. "We're at the center of the new everything, the iPhone has revolutionized everything."