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Mac publishers expect 2007 rebound, iPhone games uncertain [Macworld Expo]

Zack Stern

Mac game developers and publishers at this year's Macworld Expo expect 2007 to be a significantly better year for the platform, with more releases and sales. The Mac companies are looking forward to the iPhone and hope to develop for that platform, but none we spoke with over the show week expected to have that opportunity since the iPod has eluded them.

The companies said last year's transition to Intel hardware stalled the Mac gaming industry and closed or slowed several competitors. Ian Lynch Smith, president of Freeverse told us, "Everyone else in the industry ran for the hills. That's why there were very few releases last year versus the year before." His brother and vice president, Colin Lynch Smith, remained positive, saying, "2007 should be a great year for [Mac] games." (Disclosure: This writer has created occasional trailers for Freeverse.)

David Stephen, head of Feral Interactive, said the "outlook is decent" for this year. "We're benefiting from growth in Apple's installed base," he added. Stephen also looks forward to the thinner number of competitors, saying the few remaining game companies "[make] it a little less competitive."

The companies respond to the iPhone after the break.

All of the companies we spoke with are excited about the iPhone, but none think they'll be able to make iPhone games. Colin Lynch Smith said, "We know nothing. ... My guess is that it'll be a closed system. I hope it'll be an open system. ... We'd be very excited to write games for the iPhone."

Stephen echoed the statement saying, "The Macintosh is an open platform. The iPod isn't. I don't hold a great deal of hope that the [iPhone will] be an open platform."

Aspyr Media's director of marketing, Leah Heck, thought that the company could apply its experience publishing a few Pocket PC games saying, "It'd be cool to do something for the iPhone." But she also tempered her outlook against Apple's iPod history, saying "Apple obviously holds things very close. ... It seems like a natural progression of things for us, [but] at this point, we have no plans."

Apple didn't reply to our requests for comment by the time this story went live, but a New York Times article doesn't give much hope for an open iPhone [via BoingBoing], quoting Steve Jobs as saying, "We define everything that is on the phone. ... These are more like iPods than they are like computers." Jobs latter added, "That doesn't mean there's not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn't mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment."

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