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MMOs and the iPhone SDK

Mike Schramm

As you may already know if (like me) you are an iPhone owner, Apple spent the better part of this morning laying out just what will be in the iPhone SDK, which is basically a set of tools program developers can use to create applications for the shiny little touchscreen cell phone. Wait, did we say applications? I certainly meant games -- Apple (which is not, as of late, known for their gaming prowess) had EA and other game companies appear on stage to show off what kind of games can be based on the platform. I also spend some of my time blogging on TUAW, which is Weblogs, Inc's Apple blog, and I went on record there a while ago saying that the iPhone is the best handheld gaming device ever. Given what we saw today (along with the fact that programmers will have access to the gadget's multitouch, accelerometer, and even microphone and camera features), I believe that more than ever -- all we need is some games to play on it.

So what does this all mean for massively multiplayer games? Lots.

First of all, remember how Blizzard is officially planning to make a mobile version, or at least a mobile appliation, for their MMO? They've been dreaming for something like the iPhone SDK to come along, and odds are that, along with Google Android (another mobile development platform), any application Blizzard develops will run best and probably first on the iPhone. Lots of game developers are already interested in jumping into the iPhone's waters, so we'll more than likely see a lot of first party (as in, made by actual MMO developers) applications on mobile devices like the iPhone.

And then there's third party applications as well. Dungeon Runners recently opened up their character information in an open format, and that makes it very possible for other developers to create unofficial applications for players. EVEMon is a terrific program for EVE Online players to use, and the features announced by Apple today will make it super easy for developers to make programs like that specifically for the iPhone -- so you'll be able to check your skills schedule even when you're out and about.

And finally, there's a whole other realm of MMOs here that we haven't even scratched the surface of yet. Games like Parallel Kingdom depend on mobility, and that makes the iPhone (which will not only give an application its real-world location, but also stay connected to the internet via Edge) the perfect kind of platform for that development. Apple programmer Wil Shipley is already dreaming of massively multiplayer pet games (in which the pet in your iPhone might interact with other iPhones in the same location), and as programmers get the hang of programming for the platform (consumers are set to experience the first apps in June of this year), the games will only get better and more inventive. The best MMO of 2009 might not even be on a PC or a Mac -- it might be a massively multiplayer game played entirely on the iPhone mobile platform.

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