Apple should release an iPod game SDK

Apple should release an iPod game SDK

Summary: A nice feature of the new iPod update is support for games but the downside is that you can only buy them from Apple. There's a movement afoot by the HomeBrew community to pry open Apple's proprietary iPod game package (.ipg) format and reverse engineer a way to load third-party games onto the device.

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TOPICS: Apple
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ipod-5g-games.pngA nice feature of the new iPod update is support for games but the downside is that you can only buy them from Apple. There's a movement afoot by the HomeBrew community to pry open Apple's proprietary iPod game package (.ipg) format and reverse engineer a way to load third-party games onto the device.

Nine iPod games were released on 12 September 2006 that work on all 5th generation iPods but not on the iPod nano. Previous 5th generation iPods can play the new games after installing iPod software version 1.2. iPod software updates are now downloaded directly through iTunes 7 instead of the Finder.

The games cost US$4.99 each from the iTunes Store and work on the iPod only - you can't play them in iTunes. Apple wrote two of the titles in house ("Texas Hold'em" and "Vortex") and the rest are from partners: "Tetris," "Mahjong" and "Mini Golf" (Electronic Arts Inc.); "Pac-Man" (Namco Networks America Inc.); "Cubis 2" (FreshGames, LLC); "Bejeweled" and "Zuma" (PopCap Games, Inc.).

GamePro has a pretty good review of the new iPod games, including my favorite, Texas Hold'em.

I am not much of a gamer but one game I really enjoy is Texas Hold'em and Apple's version is very playable and extremely fun. After a few games of Apple Hold'em I made it to the second round unlocking a new level. One cool feature over the Hold'em that I usually play (Concrete Software's Aces Texas Hold'em for Treo) are the tells that the Apple players make. They're Hilarious. And I'm pretty sure that some of the developers make cameo appearances as players in the game, too...

Sure, it's missing multi-player support (the iPod has no networking) and it doesn't play out hands after you fold, but the good graphics make it a very serviceable Hold'em game for the iPod.

Although the games sold on the iTunes store are pretty good I wish that there was more of a selection. While the clickwheel controller is a definite limitation it would be great if Apple published an SDK so that more game developers could get in on the action and release even more titles. Don't hold your breath though, HomeBrewed iPod games are a way off. The iPod checksums every file in the bundle and then looks for an Apple-signed certificate before it will execute any code.

I hope that Apple re-considers and allows developers to easily write and distribute games (and other applications) for the iPod. Maybe in Xcode 3?

Related: OS News.com's Top Ten Requests for Future iPod Games

UPDATE 2006-0919 09:20 ET:
RDM has posted an excellent article on the topic: Hacking iPod Games: How Apple's DRM Works

Topic: Apple

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8 comments
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  • It would be a smart move

    Look at all the traction Apple got from opening the iTunes store to Podcasts. Same idea here, let people make all kinds of games and sell them through the iTunes store. You get money from the sales and each game sale drives iPod sales. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
    tic swayback
    • Use the podcasting model for iPod games

      Developers submit games to iTunes (ostensibly for security and
      quality control) and Apple makes them available via the iTunes
      Store. Some gams can be freeware and others can be commercial
      (requiring a license fee), with a revenue share going to the
      developer. The Roughly Drafted article that I linked to at the
      bottom of my piece has some good points about the reasons why
      Apple won't do this (security, stability and support chiefly.)
      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • I agree

    This makes a lot of sense!

    http://opendomain.blogspot.com/
    opensourcepro
  • Would be Great

    I downloaded Zuma (which did not break the bank btw) to test and it worked and looked better than I expected with the clickwheel.

    This could just be a start (test) before they open it up to developers.
    dave95.
  • Agreed

    That's a great idea. Apple has been friendly to developers with XCode being free and bundled with OSX anyway, and the iPod games SDK would make the iPod a more interesting games machine and could possibly increase the iPod market share. I'm not much of a gamer (a little Second Life, is all) but I had to buy one game for my iPod. So I bought Vortex and am very much amused by it. I especially like the sound effects and it's pretty easy to play with the scrollwheel.
    hz37
  • I asked them about this sometime ago...

    There was no response. I think it would be very cool if they
    had a development environment that was easy to program and
    also alowed us to sell our software.

    I would like to do a homebrew program, so I wouldn't have to
    use my PC when making beer, I could input my notes on each
    batch on the iPod. I always have it when I brew anyhow.

    The iPod could be a limited input PDA. Just put in the
    numbers, etc...

    And of course there are a lot of games that will never make it to
    the iPod any other way.

    I would like that apple reviews each software and checks it for
    security reasons. Security is the only valid reason for them NOT
    to do this...
    comp_indiana
  • Multineworking

    I think the multinetworking will come when they add the Bluetooth technology.
    info@...
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