iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

Summary: The iPad 2 is certainly more than an incremental update, but will it be enough to keep the tablet pendulum swinging in Apple's direction, at least when it comes to game development?


The iPad 2 is certainly more than an incremental update, but will it be enough to keep the tablet pendulum swinging in Apple's direction, at least when it comes to game development?

Walking into the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, a lot of the buzz coming from mobile game developers looking for maximum performance for their titles is on Nvidia's Tegra processor architecture, which is leveraged in Motorola's Xoom tablet, the Atrix 4G smartphone and other devices that run the Android operating system.

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Apple says the A5 processor that powers the iPad 2 offers up to twice the performance as the processor under the hood of the original iPad, with up to nine times better graphics performance.

But the absence of hard specs on the iPad 2 - at least for now - leaves some developers at this week's show cold. Helping advance Tegra is Nvidia's deep roots in the game development community, long championing its hardware and APIs for use by game creators.

Nvidia has also introduced a "Tegra Zone" app for mobile gamers, to find content optimized for their smartphones and tablets. That helps developers that work with Nvidia to showcase their games away from the Android Market, which is running headlong into the same signal-to-noise ratio problem that the App Store has long suffered from: a lack of meaningful ways for the developer to differentiate their products from the competition's.

Apple also still suffers from a perception among hardcore game developers that the company doesn't take their particular type of entertainment seriously. Some developers perceive casual mainstream games like Angry Birds as getting the lion's share of Apple's attention in the App Store, while more hardcore and higher-priced games often languish outside of the purview of Apple's editorial curation.

At the recent World Mobile Congress (WMC) event in Barcelona, Spain, Nvidia demonstrated a quad-core version of its Tegra architecture sporting dramatically improved performance over its current chipset. That's not available to market yet, and Tegra 2-based devices are only now slowly trickling to market. It will take some time for handset and tablet manufacturers and software developers to catch up. But the fact remains: Nvidia, like Apple, is not sitting still, and wants to compete.

There can be very little doubt that the iPad 2 will help Apple carry forward its momentum as the dominant tablet manufacturer. But just as Android-based smartphones have begun to eclipse the iPhone, Android tablets running Tegra processors and Honeycomb are likely to bite deeply into Apple's lead.

Is 2011 the year of the iPad 2, as Steve Jobs said in his presentation on Wednesday? If the feedback of game developers at GDC is any indication, it's still too soon to tell.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Processors, Tablets

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  • I'm Just a Poor Boy

    I know when I develop software, I never worry about how many units I might sell. I care about the technical specs of the processor I get to work with.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

      @Robert Hahn
      and the display specs I had to work with.
      The iPad display ratio is so old school - for a good game, give we WS........

      • Peter Cohen's view is too much wishful thinking

        @zenwalker: I mean Apple paid $2 billion to developers, while others, all combined, like 20 times less. <b>This feedback for (game) developers is actual indication, and yes, 2011 will be year of iPad 2</b>.
    • And with the Tegra 2 completely pawned by the A5...

      The iPad 2 is looking like the gamers dream performance wise.
  • I think game developers are still finding their way...

    In the tablet arena. I buy plenty of games for my iPhone/iPad. I find the cheap ones very entertaining. Angry birds, it's cheap and fun, and it's fun whether you play for a few minutes at a time or hours at a time. I don't mind blowing $0.99 just to try it out. And I've bought a lot of the big name games. These are like, wow! Filled with lots of eye-candy and very engaging but the form factor really doesn't lend itself to long and engaging games. It's a great form factor for surfing the web, email or RSS feeds while watching TV in the background or a quick game during commercials. Or board games, where you can be carrying on a conversation while playing. Not so much for the intensive marathon games. It's simply not a hardcore gaming form factor. Sure they can make hardcore games for these machines, but they probably won't sell like they are hoping.

    Oh well, the game makers will figure it out eventually.
    • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

      @oncall writes "Filled with lots of eye-candy and very engaging but the form factor really doesn't lend itself to long and engaging games."

      You've touched on something that has been repeated at developer sessions at GDC: It's possible to make deep and meaningful gameplay for iOS and other touch devices that only lasts a couple of minutes. I think if the goal is to provide a game whose levels last for 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch, the designer isn't really thinking well about how most people use the device.

      - Peter
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @flargh The problem with the gaming industry is that it is stratified. There are those hard core gamers, and then there are those that just want to be amused for 10 to 15 minutes. I happen to fall in the 10 to 15 minute camp.

        If a game requires that I spend 30 minutes to get into it, then it has just lost my attention. What game developers don't get is that I am not there to get into a game. I am there to be amused for a short amount of time. No more, no less...
    • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds


      A bit off topic - but I never really found angry birds to be all that fun (I played the version with ads). It seems like a glorified version of old artillery games, with some extra physics thrown in. You don't really make any interesting choices, just velocity and angle.

      I'm still trying to figure out why everybody likes angry birds so much.

      I'd rather play Plants vs Zombies. A lot more choices, and a lot more variety.
  • Last year iOS took 82.7% of Paid Apps revenue, Android 4.7%

    fact is iOS users spend money and Android users don't.<br><br>Now with all this malware stuff in the official Google market (50-200 thousand downloads of malware laden apps) that can steal info and activated to download more malware. Google does not really vet the market (malware apps were caught by users not Google. Some reports say OTHER malware apps have been left there for 6 months), are people crazy enough to get droids or buy droid apps?
    • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

      @Davewrite What's more, piracy is a *huge* problem in the Android marketplace - some of the developers I talk with this week indicate that piracy on some Android games is up to 90%.

      Don't get me wrong - piracy still exists on iOS devices, but the rates are considerably lower.

      - Peter
    • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

      @Davewrite I buy my apps and with the new DRM features in honeycomb this issue won't be relevant going forward. I use the Xoom and my wife uses the iPad, guess what, she never buys a single app and only uses free ones.

      As for app sales, those are skewed by the fact that you can buy direct from resellers with Android and you cannot with iOS.

      As for the Malware, most of the issues were on alternative installation sites but the fact that any made it into the Market Place at all says to me that Google needs to put a team together to easy the fears of the public.
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @Peter Perry

        The developers of the "free" Apps, still derive income from advertising.

        I'll happily pay to get rid of ads.
      • Google App market Malware (200k downloads) is a disaster

        @Peter Perry <br><br>"most of the issues were on alternative installation sites"<br><br>"Most of the issues.. " well maybe<br>perhaps 50-200 thousand downloads of malware from Google is not significant when compared to the multitudes of Android malware outside. A malware app Jakeey wallpaper has been downloaded 1 to 4 million times (Venture beat).<br><br>but trying to paint the Google App Market malware issue as not a major disaster for android is not facing the facts. Truth is as Google doesn't vet apps and it's happened in the Google market you can't trust android apps from anywhere. <br><br>As for for the Google market :<br><br>Zdnet:<br><br>".. 21 popular free apps from the market, injected root exploits into them and republished. The really scary part? 50k-200k downloads combined in 4 days.... I asked our resident hacker to take a look at the code himself, and hes verified it does indeed root the users device via rageagainstthecage or exploid. But thats just the tip of the iceberg: it does more than just yank IMEI and IMSI. Theres another APK hidden inside the code, and it steals nearly everything it can: product ID, model, partner (provider?), language, country, and userID. But thats all childs play; the true pice de rsistance is that it has the ability to download more code. In other words, theres no way to know what the app does after its installed, and the possibilities are nearly endless."<br><br>Wired:<br>"Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Labs, said in an e-mail that in terms of attacks and malware, it doesnt get any worse than root access, which this malware has.<br><br>Apparently the malware apps were flagged by users, Google didn't know about it. Google practically has no vetting process. How much more malware in the Google Market? <br><br>Like I said People are crazy to buy Android devices. I'll never feel comfortable not knowing if apps on my phone are stealing stuff or even when the app has been removed has placed malicious code in. there has been proven Android botnets which would turn your phone into a zombie, apps that look like real bank apps etc.<br><br>as for your wife not buying iPad apps, ok but that doesn't change the overall stats for money making so do developers want to chase 4.7%?
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @Davewrite I wasn't minimizing it at all, I know people who have Android Phones and you know what, most of them are unphased but with that said, neither me nor my wife have downloaded any of these apps.

        And as long as Apple keeps their asshole like behavior then I say people are crazy to buy an iDevice knowing their freedoms are being controlled by a sociopath (look it up, Jobs fits this bill perfectly).

        But the reality is, this year we're going to get to watch Pwn2Own exploit the iPad and iPhone so you'll see what the King's new clothes are really made of.
      • I MUCH prefer Apple's way to the

        @Peter Perry
        alternative. My history has been in computer repair and support. So much of my time is spent dealing with issues that others have with their systems and much of that time is spent dealing with malware or applications that have to be installed, kept current and or shut off because they interfere with the install of a new application or update then turned on again after said update. So for my personal use and to avoid taking my work home with me I choose Apple. Am I enslaved by the walled garden or set free!?! Depends on how you look at it I suppose to me it's very freeing and liberating to not have to concern myself with that stuff. Is Apple fool proof or perfect clearly not but over all the odds of my having a problem are far less than in the past I had to deal with MS and now Android. To my way of thinking Apple's way is better it just works for me where I don't have to work for it.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @James Quinn Yeah, yeah, yeah... We get it Jim but you are either doing a little fly by night business or your infrastructure sucks because we never have these incidencts are work! Ever, I do the systems support at my work as well and it is 100% Windows XP at this time (Windows 7 rolls out this year) and yet not a single infection.

        Maybe you don't need an Apple Product (which has been proven to be no more secure as people break into them at will during hacker conventions) but maybe your work just needs better IT People.

        Anyway, after researching it more... 22 Apps were in the Marketplace but none of them actually had malware in them... What they had was the ability to download Malware once installed. Now if you want to tell me that no apps exist right now that download content from outside of the apple app store then I'm telling you that you need to go grab any ebook reader because the concept is similar.
      • Yeah I know some people have not had

        @Peter Perry
        issues with Windows I get it. I'm talking odds here. For Windows XP there are literally thousands of pieces of malware out there and some very destructive or capable of stealing important ID information even back account numbers and passwords. To put it this way some people never had a problem with a Yugo in fact I'd wage a years salary that there are still some perfectly running Yugos on the road in America today that never had anything but the occasional tune up needed and a worn part replaced. Does that make the Yugo a good car? Or at it's time a good choice? Some huge businesses have had entire departments taken down over the years by malware. Its a fact. People have had their ID stolen by spyware... Another fact. None of this that I know of has happened on a Mac. Even if it has the numbers are so small as to not be a factor in a simple statistic calculation. The "odds" are still in my favor by a large margin and like I said I don't need to take my work home with me.

        Android is young yet. MS did not have it's security issues until well into it's life as an industry leader. The start on attacking Android has been much faster. The addition of crapware on Android has been much faster than it was on MS and or Windows. Unless it is attacked much faster the end results have been seen already except it will be faster still. I don't see Google doing anything to head this off do you?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @James Quinn well think about this, 20,000+ Desktops in my company and I'm responsible for 1200 at my site (not including the servers I have to deal with or the phone switch that runs on a Windows Server Platform)... That's a lot of computers to never have had any issues in the 5+ years I've been there...

        Now with all that said, do you think maybe you want to put some safeguards in place at your site? Heck, I'm going to go one step further here... we actually have IE 6 on 90% of those computers with IE 7 approved and IE 8 testing...

        Reality is, most employees have limited access to the web, locked down computers and on several stations VB Script is actually not allowed to run... Then on top of that we actually block a ton of sites for safety reasons and the firewall along with proxy servers and AV helps against these things.
      • Piracy will alway be rampant on Android.

        @Peter Perry

        By the very nature of the people that use it and its design. Google has had to use the remote kill switch many times due to malware in their Market Place. All you have to do is Google:

        malware android -ios
        malware ios -android

        to see the fundamental differences between the two platforms.

        Honeycomb will do nothing to address the mindset of the product using the OS.
      • RE: iPad 2 competes with Nvidia for game developers' hearts and minds

        @Bruizer okay now go do your own search and find the articles where is shows Google used this kill switch...

        Security experts noted these were the first pieces of malware in the official market and others were targeted select geographical locations...

        It also noted they haven't remotely removed anything as of yet because they're looking for to trace it back to the companies that were benefitting from this and they pushed a security patch to the users who downloaded the apps to prevent from working any longer.

        Again, this isn't as big of an issue as Apple fans want it to be and honestly, there are security companies monitoring the App Market right now so to say nothing is being done is a pipe dream and only has a basis in Jobs Reality Distortion Field.