Mobile Mavens

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens on life with iPhone 5

AKA our iPhone 5 special, part 2

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Gaming Mavens on life with iPhone 5

The PocketGamer.biz Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

Having sampled their opinions leading up to the announcement, iPhone 5's big San Francisco splash meant it was time to circle back with the Mavens for their take on Apple's next big thing.

And so, we asked the Mavens:

Now it's out in the open, what is your initial impression of iPhone 5?

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Firstly, there were no real surprises. We got the expected 16:9 form-factor and the new slim connector that was leaked.

The new nano-SIM is a little quirky and, in the short term, seems more likely to be a nuisance for users who want to switch contracts or SIMs - e.g. when roaming.

The big focus on gaming seems interesting and the heralded performance - although I'm yet to see it myself - sounds fantastic. But, I still think there issues. For me, there's a need for better control support at the OS level, and of course the're still limited memory. The 64GB version is a good step, but its not spectacular.

However, bear in mind that I cannot install apps onto the memory card on my Samsung Galaxy SIII - which was a huge disappointment for me.

That being said, comparing the specs of these two devices, it still feels that the iPhone is behind the curve - perhaps catching up - but not leading. There is also no NFC, which I think is a shame and will set back innovation, and no significant improvement in the battery life.

Will it sell? Yes, I think Apple has done enough to maintain the hype – just – iPhone 5 may even outsell the 4S.

Will I buy one? Yes, but only as I need a demo iOS device - it won't return to being my primary device.

But for me, iPhone has lost its sparkle - it has done since iPhone 4S - and unless some serious changes happen for the next device I think we will be looking elsewhere for a market leader.

[people id="11" name="Brian Baglow"]

New! Shiny! Slightly better! Another screen size to support! Yay! Umm, will that do?[/people]

Jussi Laakkonen CEO Noice

It is better, faster, stronger, lighter, taller. It'll sell like hotcakes.

The leaps that iPhone used to take from iPhone 3G (minimum viable product) to iPhone 3GS (good smartphone) to iPhone 4 (amazing) have made us biased and we demand more from Apple than from anyone else.

We want Apple to lead the market in ways that shake things up and take us into an exciting future.

I'd wanted more too. I would have wanted an iPhone 5 that would have made me go "OMG, how did they do that". Still, I'm definitely opening my wallet as soon as I can buy one.

Paul Virapen CEO WearGa

A veteran of the games industry with over 15 years experience, Paul has previously held roles as Head of Games at The Walt Disney Company, and CEO of Big Pixel Studios.

He is currently the CEO and co-founder of WearGa, a London based startup focused 100% on games designed for smartwatch.


Increased performance and a shiny new form factor is exactly what the majority of iPhone users want, and will convince many of them to upgrade.

From a developer's point of view, the new resolution to support does create some interesting design challenges, particularly when looking at universal games across iPhone and iPad.

The difference in aspect ratio between iPhone and iPad wasn't that huge before (3:2 vs 4:3), but now with a close to 16:9 ratio for the iPhone 5 there is a larger gap between the two.

It'll be interesting to see how developers approach this for new games designed to run across the full range of devices.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Good point well made, Paul. The aspect ratio will cause challenges, but I think this was needed. 3:2/4:3 displays need to be replaced from a consumer experience point of view.

I suspect Android developers may already be ahead on this curve - if you have to detect the screen size before drawing the game canvas you can adjust to this problem most of the time.

Oh, and I know everyone is talking about an iPad mini, but for me I want a tablet that's bigger and 16:9. I suspect I'll be waiting some time for that.

Stephen Morris Co-Founder, Technical Director, Lead programmer Greenfly Studios

As a Co-Founder, Stephen is responsible for managing and growing the company whilst working directly with each client to achieve their business requirements. Stephen is a professional application developer with substantial experience in creating and maintaining in-house and commercial software utilising state-of-the-art interactive whiteboard technology and mobile systems.

Stephen has a 15 year history of creating software, highlights include features in PC Gamer and Gulf News. He also filled game design positions at Bizzare Creations, Kamehan Studios and Ravaged Entertainment. Prior to Greenfly Studios, Stephen was a specialist developer for hire; developing educational software on the forefront of interactive classroom technology. Stephen currently lectures at Futureworks Manchester (part of the University of Lancashire family) and has also lectured at Staffordshire University and provided guest Q&A sessions. Stephen graduated from Staffordshire University with a First Class in Interactive Entertainment Technology. He is also well-known for his fascination with alternative control devices.

For me, I have to agree that the iPhone 5 reveal was a little underwhelming - it may be due to the countless reveals and rumours over the past few months - but it is still a significant jump (thinner, widescreen, faster core, camera, Siri, sound etc) from the 4S and certainly for the iPhone 4.

Honestly though, I thought that the iPod touch was the breakout star of the evening.

The iPhone is very much a luxury item but I can easily see the iPod touch cementing its position as the replacement for dedicated handhelds. Granted it doesn't have the dedicated controls but it's a winner for parents buying for their children: cheap games, camera, and easy integration.

I am also incredibly happy that the 3GS has been dropped and the iPhone 4 repositioned as the 'free' model - we can start to see a much larger install base running retina-enabled games, both from the hand-me downs and new entry point.

It's still an iOS dominated market and the iPhone 5 will most likely set new records, but it'll be interesting to see the impact the Windows Phone 8 will have. I expect Apple will still retain its leader status for quite a few years yet.

Graeme Devine CEO / Co-Founder GRL Games

One thing that's big talk amongst developers is that the new version of Xcode Apple released yesterday drops support for older ARMv6 devices.

What this means for app updates remains unclear - on a really popular game like Words With Friends there's got to be a ton of people on ARMv6 still, and a tall update of the app - which I presume people would also want - would currently mean dumping them.

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative


As a consumer, I love the new device, I think it looks gorgeous I would love a larger screen, yadda yadda.

As a developer, the screen creates a lot of work and the new Xcode is creating a big headache.

The different screen resolution is a problem for us. We have three screen sizes we need to deal with and our strategy is to create universal games that can be played on all three devices.

Our legacy games will need a facelift which will take quite a bit of effort on our part, effort that was originally slated for our new game.

All the art in Pocket God is 2D and designed to work with the original iPhone screen. We will need to update the backgrounds on every minigame, island, and UI screen. We have about three and a half years of art that we will need to revise for the new screen. It will also create gameplay issues in some cases.

For our future games, the new screen size will make either the iPad or iPhone 5 version of our game inferior.

If we want the iPad to be the flagship device for our game, then the iPhone 5 game area will need to be cropped on the top or bottom or we will have to add bars at the sides. We can make the bars pretty, or perhaps stick some UI elements there but, nonetheless, we will either need to add useless screen space or reduce the visibility of the player.

Likewise, if we want the phone to be the flagship device, we will need to either crop the area so the user doesn't have the same visibility or add useless screen space on the sides. It's not ideal.

Between the legacy iPhones and the iPad, we still had to do a little of this, but they were close enough that the game play wasn't overly affected. However, the difference in aspect ratio between the iPad and the iPhone 5 is massive.

In my mind, having all the devices have similar aspect ratios would allow game designers to create the best games that are able to support all three devices.

Although this isn't a rule for all games, radically different aspect ratios will result in the watering down of a game's presentation in order to be playable across all devices. Either that, or you will need different versions of the game with unique level designs that take each device into account.

Concerning ARMv6, this is also a big deal for us. This is not a limitation imposed by the new hardware in any way and I have no idea if this is an official stance by Apple or if it's an oversight - my gut tells me they want people to upgrade their devices.

For those who don't know, ARMv6 is the architecture of the 2nd gen iPod Touch, and iPhone 3G. Usage on the iPhone 3G is pretty much non-existent but we have a significant number of active users that are currently using the 2nd gen iPod Touch - 49,000 active users to be exact.

Many of these users are kids that are very vocal and will end up writing a ton of negative reviews for something we have no control over. We also had no advance warning that this was going to happen. We could have got the word out before hand to try and soften the blow but as we are trying to submit an update this weekend.

We will just have to deal with the storm as it happens.


With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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