Phone Games To Hurt Console Market?

Just read the NY Times article here that claims Apple is casting a shadow over the console game market. Of the 758 games shown at this week’s Tokyo Game Show, 168 were cell phone games. That’s a big number. I’m not sure if the premise is true, but it does open your eyes to a change that is underfoot.

And I think that’s were my excitement over the mobile software space is coming from. These cell phones, like my personal HTC Dream Android phone, are decent little gaming machines. Now you aren’t going to play first person shooters like I was earlier today with Halo 3 ODST, but for casual gamers they’re a hit. And we see it today with the iPhone. When someone shows me their iPhone, it’s usually to show off a game running on it.

Android has some growing to do to be a good software platform for mobile games. Good games need to get all the horsepower they can out of the phone without draining the battery, i.e. you need to write as much code to run natively as you can. Until Android gets support for OpenGL and other platform libraries needed to make games into their NDK, gaming on Android will be on a slow growth curve. But once it’s there, watch out.

The new platform that caught my eye this week was Moblin, and not just because Intel owns Wind River (my employer). There was a big teaser announcement on Moblin, which until now was a netbook OS, being ported to run on Atom-based phones of the future. Taking a deeper look, I was pleased to see that Moblin really is a Linux “standard” distro with all the gaming libs you need, like OpenGL, gstreamer for audio, SDL for IO, that you get on a desktop Linux distro. I can’t wait to see Atom in a phone and see how it compares to the iPhone and Android platforms of the day.

As I keep mentioning here in this blog, it’s a great time to be a programmer if you get into the mobile space. There’s so much innovation there, and so much opportunity to create something new. And being a non-traditional environment, it’s a great place for Eclipse based tools to become the defacto standard, especially the CDT with it’s flexible toolchain support and all around IDE goodness. There is activity going on in the community to bring that goodness to these platforms and I can’t wait to try them out.