As I see it, the biggest problem Apple's iPhone faces as a gaming platform is the flood, the sheer wall of games now available on the system.
The last I heard, and I'm sure it's well past this by now, is that there are 15,000 applications on the App Store right now, many of them games.
I try to check in on the App Store daily but find it hard to keep up with what's new and what's worthwhile. Worse still, the games are so popular that they tend to push out all other applications in the broader categories like What's Hot and What's New and Top 25.
Pocket Gamer recently sat down with Apple's senior product manager for iPhone worldwide marketing to talk about the issue and a few other things.
The good news is that Apple is aware of the problem, the bad news is that they don't seem ready to do much about it, at least not yet.
Instead, Apple's Eric Jue said, they're relying on the App Store's featured application pages and the Apple website to try and pluck out the newer and better games from the masses.
While I don't have a deep understanding of the inner workings of the App Store, I think one of the problems is that any update to a game tricks the App Store into thinking it's a new title. If that is indeed the case, it would explain why a lot of older titles seem to float on the top of the page for gaming in the App Store. Often the only changes I see are to the description. That's perhaps the result of astute developers gaming the system.
At the very least, I'd like to see Apple create separate Top 25s for games and for other applications, so I can see which non-games are the most popular.
I do get quite a few emails from iPhone game developers complaining about this very issue, trying to figure out how to stand out in a very over-crowded field. It's a real frustration, a real problem, for both gamers and developers.
If it becomes too big a problem, I can see it cutting into the time developers are willing to spend on a game. Why make a top, triple-A title when you can't be guaranteed better "shelf" placement?
Imagine walking into a GameStop and confronting a wall of 15,000 games that includes everything from Madden to Big Rigs Over the Road Racing and no way to distinguish the good from the bad. With key developers still trying to make a name for themselves and few publications with comprehensive coverage of the iPhone's games, there just aren't enough filters in place.
Hopefully, the rumored, tiered App Store is really coming, because this issue is currently the iPhone's biggest impediment to success as a true gaming platform.
Interview: Apple talks iPhone games and the App Store [Pocket Gamer]