iPad "not far at all" from AAA console quality gaming, says Remedy

Matias Myllyrinne sees Infinity Blade as the benchmark on iOS

iPad, and tablets in general, push technology forward at a rapid clip. The processing power grows significantly each year and, according to Remedy Entertainment CEO Matias Myllyrinne, it won't be long before full-fledged console experiences like Alan Wake can be had on tablets.

"[We're] not far at all," he told GamesIndustry International recently, adding that he'd still like to see a controller built for tablets that works. "Or at least I'd like to see games made for the medium. You still see ports of console titles being brought to iPad. While some of those are cool, I think the really powerful things would be when they're made for the medium. When you take the interface into serious consideration in your design. But I don't think we're far away from that at all. If you talk to any of the smart kids in the class, I think all of them are looking at how do we build good IP for theses devices, and I think Infinity Blade is now the benchmark and I think Epic and Chair have done a wonderful job there."

He continued, "I think we'll see loads of people come to that space and obviously, as the processing power goes ahead and increases, I don't think that's going to be the limiting factor. I think the nut to crack right now is to build the right kind of content for that medium."

"And the play sessions are different as well. So we're seeing in Death Rally, we've had over 50 million play sessions, but those play sessions usually are between 3 and 4 minutes. So I think you need to design a game that people can essentially play on a bus stop or in the toilet."

"I think we've gained a lot of credibility as an art form in the past few years and I think we'll continue to do that"

Matias Myllyrinne

So does that mean that a traditional console type experience wouldn't fit tablets? Do iPad players not crave the hour+ long sit down gaming sessions that consoles are used for?

"That's a good question. I don't know," confessed Myllyrinne. "I know that there are heavy users for our games and there are a lot of folks who play at home on an iPad for a long period of time. I don't know whether the hard core gamers would still rather boot up a console and play Uncharted or Halo or what have you. But I don't think they necessarily take away from each other. They're just different kinds of experiences. I think, most of us, these days, we have a touch phone, we have an iPad, and we have a laptop. They're all used for similar things, but still they serve a specific function."

So if Remedy is so psyched with iOS as a platform and the potential for larger games, will Alan Wake make its way to iPad? Not necessarily.

"We're obviously looking hard at what kind of gameplay works on those platforms as well and doing a lot of prototyping. I think it's important to do it right. There's no such thing as a 'small' game. You can put out something that doesn't deliver. I don't think there are any excuses for that. Even if it's 99 cents or $4.99 or whatever, it's still kind of an implicit promise from you to the audience that, by the way, this is good sh*t. And if it's not, nobody wants to feel cheated or shortchanged, even if it's 99 cents. So I think it's really important to get those things right," he said.

Regardless of whether Alan Wake ever comes to iPad, Remedy as a developer is encouraged by the ongoing maturation the games industry has seen. Developers can be more creative with an adult perspective in mind these days. That simply wasn't the case in the '80s and '90s.

"I think we've gained a lot of credibility as an art form in the past few years and I think we'll continue to do that. But I think, most importantly, games are so mainstream now that you have the opportunity to try to do something that's more refined and it doesn't need to appeal to your middle school audience," Myllyrinne added. "You can do games for 20- or 30-year-old folks who like HBO. And I think that's interesting and it's cool to see people approach it from their own angles... technically, we can just do much more and production wise we can just do much more than we ever could before, so I'm really looking forward to what happens in the upcoming years."

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Latest comments (23)

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Well said. Someone grasps the revolution that is happening in gaming.
One of the resident game nuts in our office bought an iPad3 at the weekend instead of a Vita. It is very easy to understand why.
In screen resolution tablets have now convincingly overtaken console. For GPU and CPU power they will convincingly overtake console this year.
The problem (though it shouldn't be) is the user interface. Some people are stuck with console controllers as the only input device they know how to design for. Meanwhile more flexible thinkers are doing fantastic things with iOS. All the single button games and innovative "gesture" inputs like on Flick Golf. These are far more intuitive so have far greater customer acceptance.

Then there is the numbers game. By the end of this year there will probably be more tablets in the world than all current generation consoles put together. By the end of next year there will probably be more tablets in the world than all the consoles ever made. And all these customers can be reached just by putting your game on the App Stores. No plastic, no cardboard, no shipping, no local distributors. Global distribution with the press of a button.

And still there are plenty in the industry who don't get it.
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It depends on how you define AAA I guess. Production values? So far, I can't see any iPad games with production values rivaling the likes of uncharted, mgs or skyrim.
Graphics at first glance, through the eyes of the average customer? Maybe.
Game length and "meatiness"? Problematic if you consider the limited storage space. Most ipads sold are 32 gigs or less, and people have different games, apps and media on there.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
Look "APPLE" I dont care if you start making games for iPAD... what I cant stand is doing everything with a touch screen. I need a fisical game pad with buttons that I can feel and the ability to play my games on a huge TV. I will not be stuck all day on a piece of glass. Besides If i have to choose between, a traditional game pad, touch screen technology or motion control, I defenitly feel more confort with a traditional game pad.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 8 years ago
I agree with Felix and, to an extent, Rick. It really depends on how you define AAA since it appears to me that from looking at the Infinity Blade screenshots above that polys are nowhere near the same quality as they are on a console - maybe not even PS2 level quality from what i'm seeing in various screenshots. However, filters and other graphical processing effects along with higher resolution textures are obviously superior to older console generations.

I actually don't mind the touch-only interface as I was never bothered by touch-only or touch/button combinations on the DS - that is really game specific and I don't think AAA has to only be defined as narrowly as "games that are reflex intensive" (e.g. FPS) - which is where touchscreen interfaces fail terribly in my experience, especially over longer periods of play.
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Bruce, for me its still about software revenue. Because Phone/Tablet users have been trained to expect the majority of their software for $1-5, its basically impossible for a AAA game developer to *replace* the revenue from console/handheld titles with phone/tablet revenue.

If you want to do an iOS/Android game *as well* - sure - its great advertising, will make some $, and should assist with the sales of the console version. But at $20 profit/unit, and shipping 5m units - that $100m of revenue. Even the biggest iOS titles struggle to do a fraction of that.

Gamers are also always keen on the most cutting-edge games, and as good/pretty as some iPad games are - they can't compare to the latest console releases (controls, depth, graphics, immersion, production, length, etc). Not to mention screen size of an iPad vrs a TV.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
How much did that $100m / 5m sales cost you to develop (and please include your marketing budget in your answer)?
Gamers are also always keen on the most cutting-edge games
Gamers are a tiny fraction of the video game market. And let's face it, even gamers don't think graphics trumps all, otherwise Crysis 2 and Heavy Rain would have outsold everything else in their launch years.
polys are nowhere near the same quality as they are on a console
I keep re-reading this quote, it's brilliant.
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"Gamers are a tiny fraction of the video game market." Can you back this up with some numbers? Also, what defines a "gamer"?
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
35 million monthly active players on Texas Hold 'Em Poker

(I deliberately excluded the top dog to avoid any "Zynga games aren't games" bullshit, I hope everyone can accept that poker is definitely a game.)

13.3 million people a day playing Draw Something

3.3 million players on MW3 launch day

7 million copies of Just Dance 3 sold

Do well at console and you'll really do well, but it's surely clear that there's a bigger audience out there than AAA console is catering to?
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I was hoping for a revenue comparison between ios/android and PC/Consoles/Handheld, not player counts. Afaik draw something has a free app so this number doesn't directly translate into revenue. I tried to look for some myself and only found the one about ios/android being 58% of the portable gaming market by revenue in the US, from 2011.
Hardcore console/PC gamers might be an ever shrinking percentage of total VG revenue the more the overall market grows, but I'm not buying into the "tiny fraction" argument just yet.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development8 years ago
Even if more people play Texas Hold 'Em Poker than Perfect Dark we can still happily target the FPS market.

The number of Texas Hold 'Em Poker users does not remove the demand for COD, and because of the different price points you're hardly going to see Hold 'Em Poker affect the decision process when purchasing COD. And if a COD beater is not present then you're not going to see the decision to purchase an iPhone affect the decision to purchase COD either.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 11th April 2012 4:09pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.8 years ago
Comparing those small iOS/mobile/download games to big AAA games makes little sense. The point of this article is that those games are nearing AAA console games.

Different target markets.

When Ubisoft starts to heavily consider if they should put Assassin's Creed 4 on mobile or console, you may have something. When Activision starts to heavily consider if they should put Call of Duty on mobile or console, you may have something. When Capcom starts to heavily consider putting Resident Evil on mobile or console, you may have something. You get the point.

But it's going to be a long, long time before they come to making those kinds of decisions. In other words, we aren't near the premise of this article yet.

Scope and grand productions - not factors that work well in the mobile space. Mobile doesn't even match up to the portable consoles in those regards yet, much less home consoles.

Do your mobile thing. It works. It's fantastic for many developers and many gamers. But don't try fit into shoes too big. I'd even say that the mobile space moves too fast to even try a big AAA production. Getting 75-100+ people to work for 3-4+ years on a iOS game may leave you with a completely different market at launch then when you started the project.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago

Draw Something was generating 6 figures per day.
The number of Texas Hold 'Em Poker users does not remove the demand for COD
The article doesn't seem to say it will. But as usual the discussion quickly degenerates in to "freemium is the only future" vs "you'll prise my controller out of my cold dead hands".
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development8 years ago
The article doesn't seem to say it will. But as usual the discussion quickly degenerates in to "freemium is the only future" vs "you'll prise my controller out of my cold dead hands".
I never said the article said it would, and I was not suggesting a fremium vs console future (or anything of that sort). In fact I was saying quite the opposite, in that they can both coexist.

Correct me if I'm wrong, or please elaborate, but what I'm picking up from some of the comments here is that it is better to focus on the larger market rather than what gamers are buying because there are more of them.

What exactly are you suggesting or predicting?
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Art C. Jones Writer / Blogger 8 years ago
I'm not sure AAA is the right bar.

For me, as some others have mentioned, the lack of the controller is the #1 thing holding back the iPad/other touch devices from getting my attention. #2 is related, it is depth in gaming - many of the 'best' games on iPad are fun, but are more similar to Flash games than console games - that's not a bad thing necessarily, but Jetpack Joyride & Kingdom Rush simply don't fill my gaming appetite.

The consoles (including mobile ones) offer more input options, and due to that fact, they also offer more variety in gaming. I love playing platformers, but NSMB doesn't translate well to a touch screen. Neither does something like Zelda or CoD. On my handheld I've been playing Crush (it's on PSP & 3DS take your pick), and it hits on so many things I enjoy in gaming (I love wondering 'just how do I get to that spot?'), and it is a game that is simply not possible on a touch device. (the controls on touch would be cumbersome)

I don't disagree that we'll see AAA-looking titles on iPad.'s just not that important to me to have a game that looks AAA. I'd rather have a game that plays at the 'A level' than one that looks AAA.

As a gamer what I want typically is an experience, and due to having more control/input options, consoles provide both greater variety and greater depth in experience.
That doesn't mean I don't play on Tablets and phones. I do play on them, quite a lot, but gaming on touch devices fills a certain roll for me, and most of the time it isn't the main course, it's much more akin to a snack or appetizer. Without more variety in input methods I personally don't see how that can change.
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There is one physical limitation to a high grade core game experience on tablets.

Battery life & heat dissapation. Solve that, and we have a good contender
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Tin Katavic Studying MSc-Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee8 years ago
Several things that I have to notice.
#1 As you are able to use bluetooth to connect a keyboard to an iPad the idea of connecting a controler for gaming is not so strange. Before you go "doing that makes no sense cause its touch pad" consider this. All laptops have touchpads in them and yet any gamer will connect a mouse to their laptop when playing.

#2 Again iPad (sorry I just know it so I cant talk about others) can connect via Apple TV to a big screen and it is one of the "selling points" for Apple TV. That gives the option of playing on the move or playing on the big screen.

In a way you could use the iPad just as a CPU/GPU unit. That leaves the problem of sales.
Again two things that I kinda notice.
#1 AAA quality game doesnt have to mean 100 mil budget. An indy game made for much less can give AAA like game quality.

#2 If freemium really is the future (I am unsure on that to be honest) then the whole argument of "iTunes buyers expect a full game for a $1" is irrelevant.
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@Preetpal: iPads are massively overpriced. This is how Apple makes 95-99% of their profit. An new iPad with buttons (apart from patent issues) would cost in the vicinity of $600 here in Australia. Even a brand new VITA $350-$400, and a 3DS around $250.

The price worked for iPhones, because its a contract thing. Many iPads also are (3G, etc). Other people get them as iPhone/Apple extension devices.

While many people definitely play games on them (i.e. my wife), IMO very few people get them *solely* for the purpose of playing games.

Now - the killer question is this: if Apple did bring out a iPad with controls, and say MW3 was ported in its entirety to it (if its even possible given its limited storage, no hard disk, etc): how would it be priced? Whereas it might be cheaper than console versions, surely it wouldn't be *that* much cheaper. And then it simply becomes another handheld, competing in exactly the same market. Given the limited install base (it can be played on these 'new' iPad+controls only), it would have a hard time competing software sales-wise (remember Apple's 30% as well - and as prices become high, this becomes very significant - matching production/shipping costs).
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Kevin Patterson musician 8 years ago
Apple really needs to come out with a controller Dock for the IPAD/IPOD/IPhone. I cannot stand touchscreen controls for the type of games I enjoy playing. The game that I play the most on an IOS device would be UNO or Battleship which I play while waiting on something. Playing any standard type of game is an exercise in frustration.
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Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games8 years ago
The problem though is you can't count on all your customers having a controller, or even that the controllers will all have the same number of buttons. There's no common API to develop for game controllers either, so if your favorite game doesn't support your favorite controller then you're out of luck. And if you're gaming on the go then are you really going to want to carry a controller too? And nobody wants to address the problem of storage either. If you want AAA games on your iPad you're going to need a hell of a lot more than 32 or even 64gb.

Your point about the budget of a AAA game doesn't make sense in this debate. Draw Something and Texas Hold 'Em are irrelevant; the article is about AAA games, not casual games. A AAA game will have an enormous development and marketing budget regardless of the target platform. But if they can only sell a game for $5 then iTunes/Play/etc aren't going to be very attractive. For example, Infinity Blade has made around $23 million in its first year (according to Wikipedia and a few online articles). That's a lot of money and I think any mobile developer would be thrilled. But Modern Warfare 3 made $775 million in less than a week. Obviously neither of these is the norm, but AAA games are much more likely to bring in the big bucks on consoles and PCs rather than tablets and phones.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
When Apple makes a $99 gaming device that doesn't require an Apple employee to change the batteries, has games that aren't all simplified down from a console or PC experience (yes, there are some good ports available, but I want actual controls, not window washing with my fingers) and has no annoying credit card or other personal info attached to it, maybe I'll bite.

The stupid thing is BOTH consoles and tablets CAN and SHOULD survive together, but the doomsayers who want to put people out of work to prove a point (what? that touch controls that take the challenge away from some games make better gaming, but WOW, lookit the graphics, so who cares?) don't seem to give a shit that their idea of the future isn't one every gamer cares for. Nor developer, for that matter...
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 8 years ago
I keep re-reading this quote, it's brilliant.

Haha, Anthony, I think you know what I meant. i.e. the graphics core can push fewer polygons resulting in lower detailed background structures and character models (along with being able to display fewer of them on the screen at the same time).Or maybe you're all using NURBS now? :)
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
Sure, this makes sense if the only way you describe AAA is the graphics. Infinity Blade is Fruit Ninja with armor. From a gameplay perspective it has no more depth than anything else on iOS, and iOS has yet to even approach the experiences seen on dedicated gaming hnadhelds, much less game consoles.

Don't get me wrong, there's a great place in the market for iOS and Android. It's for people who want to play small, disposable, time-passing experiences. That's what sells well, and that's what touchscreens do well. iOS's business model of $5 or less to have even moderately successful sales is not sustainable for AAA development, nor is it a remotely healthy market, with less than 1% of games making enough money to sustain their business on iOS development alone.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Michael Shamgar, I agree with most points but, "remember Apple's 30% as well - and as prices become high, this becomes very significant - matching production/shipping costs".
How is that different to Steam's 30%, XBLA's cut which I believe is about 30% or PSN's cut which I guess is similar?
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