Move over DS and PSP, Apple’s iPhone is spreading its wings

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That’s right. Apple’s iPhone will potentially be making a big splash in the handheld gaming pool with yesterday’s announcement for the release of the iPhone software development kit (SDK). The iPhone SDK provides a set of tools that third party developers can use to create software applications for Apple’s popular multimedia phone.

This provides an obvious opportunity for third party game developers that want to try and tap into the extensive iPhone user base. Two such developers willing to take the plunge are Electronic Arts and Sega, which showcased some of the game software they have been working on for the past couple weeks.

EA presented a demo of SPORE for the iPhone, which incorporates the use of the device’s accelerometer to control your creature’s movement. Sega demonstrated a version of Super Monkey Ball and also used the iPhone’s accelerometer, implementing it as a mechanism to register tilt controls as you maneuver the main character around in the levels. And make no mistake, these games are not simple cell phone games but full version ports of the complete games. Thanks to the release of the SDK, both companies have plans to begin development on a number of different game titles for the iPhone.

According to Apple’s presentation, the SDK will be free to download for third party developers, however any software created with the kit can only be distributed through the iTunes store. It will cost developers $99 per year to publish applications, but there will be no credit card or hosting fees. If the developers plan to charge a fee for their application, then Apple will take 30% from its sale. Otherwise, it’s free of charge.

The release of this SDK could provide independent game developers that are trying to break into the gaming industry a great opportunity to make some interesting games and potentially turn a profit.

On a side note, I wonder how the iPhone’s accelerometer technology compares to the six-axis controller for the PS3. I’m betting it’s a bit more sophisticated, but it would be interesting if there could be some potential cross-platform implementation of some third party games, whereby you could find downloadable titles on either the iTunes store or the Playstation Network.

But mostly, barring the technological differences and hardware restraints of the iPhone relative to the PS3, I’m curious to see whether the dragons in Lair would have been a lot easier to control if they were flying around and setting fire to things on an iPhone…

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