We sometimes argue in the BBG editor's chatroom about whether the iPhone / iPod Touch can really make any headway against the DS or PSP as a gaming platform. Ultimately, we all agree that it's not really a gaming device that can compete with a dedicated handheld — although Joel is much more optimistic about it than the rest of us — but that's not to say it can't have excellent, innovative games on it.
But now Apple is positioning the iPod Touch as exactly that: a mobile game platform. Steve Jobs described it during the "Let's Rock" event as "the best portable device for playing games." Uh, no. Hell, even Cult of Mac is skeptical: they've just posted a great breakdown of all the reasons why an iPod Touch is nothing of the sort.
The Nintendo DS was designed as a gaming device, and despite Sony’s ‘media player’ rhetoric, so was the PSP. iPod touch was designed as a media player (or, you could argue, as a smartphone, with the phone bit subsequently being wrenched out). Apple is usually very focussed, designing devices and software for specific purposes, but this isn’t one of those occasions. It’s unlikely a device not designed for games can ever become a truly major gaming platform.
That's open to quibbling, of course: the iPhone and iPod Touch will certainly have excellent games and people will use them to wile away millions of hours on gaming. That is success of a type. But it's an excellent point in its way: gaming will always be an afterthought on an iPhone, something to be done only when it isn't being used for its primary purpose. That's going to limit most games to the truly casual variety. No one will ever look at their iPod Touch as competition to the Nintendo DS: no matter what Jobs says, it isn't playing in the same space.
Why The iPod Touch Will Never Be A Major Gaming Platform [Cult of Mac]