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Triple-A games "inevitable" for iPad - Rein

And the Epic Games VP underlines the importance of marketing - even on mobile platforms

Epic Games VP Mark Rein has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes the iPad will become an obvious destination for well-known, triple-A games.

Speaking in an interview at last week's GameHorizon conference, Rein explained that the march of technology meant that platforms like the iPad - which bring an increasing sense of immersion to games - change the gaming environment for good.

"It's inevitable, because once the genie's out of the bottle, it's out," he explained. "You can't un-shoot a gun, right? Once people get a taste a something higher quality, they can't go back.

"You're not watching a lot of black and white, 4:3 television at home, are you? Sure there's some nostalgia factor there, but for the most part people aren't going back and playing 20 year-old games because the technology surpasses them and now they have much better experiences that are more immersive.

"And once you have a taste of immersion, your suspension of disbelief that you had before when you had clunky 16 bit pixels on the screen, it goes away. You just don't go back and watch silent movies in black and white. I'm not saying there's no market for that, but it's not mainstream."

He also underlined the importance of marketing for anybody hoping to see commercial success, as the company's Unreal Development Kit passes 250,000 downloads.

And he agreed that there was a risk with UDK games that, like the App Store, a small number of games might download in droves, while beyond those a vast mass of titles would be seen by only a handful of people.

"Absolutely," he explained. "And that's what I was trying to address in the talk [at GameHorizon] - distribution without marketing is just distribution. You have to have marketing, you have to have a conversation with the customers."

The full interview with Mark Rein is available now.

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Latest comments (11)

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 11 years ago
Maybe there will be more triple-A games, but who buys an iPad just for gaming?
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Chris Hayward11 years ago
It's a bit stupid to comment on the "death" of the 4:3 TV screen when the iPad itself has a 4:3 panel
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 11 years ago
A point I missed Chris, and might I add how very hypocritical! You'd think with this whole corporate 'we're pushing the boundary' thing they'd gone all out and make the iPad HD. However knowing Apples plan, release another one half a year later with a minor hardware upgrade and iPad 2 or 3 will go HD sometime next year? ;)
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Show all comments (11)
Daniel Mesonero Studio Manager, Toadman Interactive11 years ago
There also seems to be a disconnect in his reasoning: Triple-A is apparently about higher resolution, better graphics and a more interesting experience, which is all tied to the actual game development. He then goes on to say that marketing is the most important factor...
I realize that companies that can afford high-end development also often have the means to do massive marketing, but that doesn't mean that they are causally tied...
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Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 11 years ago
He also completely misses the fact that the iPad's GPU is absolutely maxed out just trying to push pixels around that huge screen! AAA ain't gonna happen. Not on the first gen. Maybe the next one...
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Private Industry 11 years ago
Rein sure loves i[Insert product name here]

iPad brings an increasing sense of immersion? When I think about immersion I think as example about Uncharted 2 one of the great action scenes with great graphics and perfect surround sound.

His quotes are taken out of context. Does he mean things like the iPad, a 400-500$ oversized iPod touch, are mainstream? Mainstream is the last thing that comes to my mind when thinking about most of the Apple products and the high prize tag. I know iPhone sells well, but it`s cheap with phone contract.

I can`t see AAA titles going iPad. The hardware is not that great and the prize is too high so it is not profitable to make AAA games for the iPad.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Private on 5th July 2010 9:06pm

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Mark Rein Vice President, Epic Games11 years ago
Folks,

I wasn't talking specifically about one generation of iPad or another or even specifically about the iPad itself but rather mobile platforms in general. They're currently doubling in performance every single year. If that pace keeps up they'll be as powerful as current game consoles before long. Whose to say Microsoft's next Xbox won't be a tablet with the Kinect hardware built right in or Sony making one with Move and camera support or Nintendo making a portable Wii? You'd be able to enjoy the console experience anywhere but then dock it to your TV for a full high-resolution living room experience and to watch your movies on the big screen. Pull out some wireless controllers and now you're playing the next big shooter. Your saved games, identify, and even movies and music, could be stored in the cloud and accessed where ever you are. Again this sort of thing would be possible once the mobile platforms are powerful enough to do it better than the home platforms. If we fix the home platforms at today's performance and let the mobiles double every year it is inevitable that we'll get those kinds of experiences on mobile. Certainly we'll get more powerful home consoles, and who knows how amazing those could be, but my point is we'll get the quality of experiences we have on consoles today on mobile devices at some in the not-too-distant future. Will they be the exact same types of game? Maybe not because you want to make games that work to the strengths of the environment and control schemes but they'll definitely meet the AAA quality bar.

Funny the writer asked about Angry Birds because I love that games. For me games like that, Flight Control, and Field Runners, Need for Speed, and others, already represent the current AAA on the iPad. This isn't strictly about fancy graphics but quality of experience. I get fully immersed in Angry Birds and Field Runners :) There are lots of great games for mobile platforms and lots more on the way.

Daniel: I didn't say anything about the death of 4:3 as an aspect ratio but was simply pointing out that, generally speaking, we're no longer shooting movies in 4:3 anymore. Even TVs today are widescreen. If widescreen TVs had failed in the marketplace it might be different story but technology marches on - which is the overall point of what I was saying.

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The iPad will have AAA 'casual' games for its 'casual' audience.

There however may be an argument that says getting any game out for the iPhone or iPad is a great marketing tool - millions of people visit the AppStore daily, and any huge IP is bound to do well enough for the title to regularly appear on top#10 lists.

Whether the revenue of say a, GTA, Gears of War gets close to console/handheld revenues is yet to be seen.

The lack of traditional controls also makes many traditional games impossible in their current form (look at the MGS title on the iPhone).

Something like Gran Turismo would be interesting though: as it would strongly suit the format. But would Sony consider that?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Mark, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Let's take a look at the catch up rate for portable platforms to equate in relative processing and GPU power for their home console brethren.

Sega GameGear (a portable equivalent to NES) - 6 years.
Sega Nomad (a literal portable Gensis/MegaDrive) - 7 years.
Sony PSP (a portable equivalent to the Sony PS) - 10 years.
Nintendo DS (a portable equivalent to the N64) - 8 years.
Nintendo 3DS (a portable equivalent to the Gamecube) - 10 years.
iPad (a portable equivalent to the PS2) - 10 years.

This suggests that it is taking longer to reach portable equivalency. I'll grant it's an oblique measure but it shows the pace and widening, not shrinking, gap between home console power and portable console power.

I don't think we're nearing the moment when portable devices become the full time gaming devices employed by the major gaming platform holders. The exception being they are already well received with casual gamers and casual game publishers.

But the AAA content providers (I hate that term as it's used to suggest quality is equatable to budget by too many people) - rather, high budget content providers will stay with platforms more geared to video gaming as the primary feature or focus of the hardware.
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Private Industry 11 years ago
Interesting idea about consoles transforming into tablet devices (reminds me a bit of the PS1 slim with the LCD screen and to some extend what the PSP can do in regards to TV connection and wireless controller support), but at the current tech I don`t see how that could be achieved without scaling back in the power of the hardware and at least MS and Sony don`t tend to scale back on hardware power. Nintendos hardware is rather "weak" CPU and GPU wise and can be most likely done on a mobile device, but in that case a portable home console would cut into the DS revenue and since both are performing strong for Nintendo (same applies for Sony to some extend with PSP that is performing ok) they don`t have any need to go a route like that for the moment.

While the mobile platforms performance double at the moment, I see at the moment the advantage of them being less powerful. The methods and knowledge of making parts with that power output and have them small and at a low temperature is there since some time. Before they will be on par with current gen (360 or PS3) they will probably have big problems with keeping the hardware small, at a low temperature and with a battery that lasts long enough.

Not too distant future as in 6-8 years? I can see that happen, but not in 2-4 years. Games with a good quality don`t need necessarily fancy graphics. Even flash games can have a good quality, still remember playing the portal flash game to death since I love portal. But for the moment I still think AAA titles (especially new IP`s) will not happen to soon on a device that is not mainly made for gaming and for certain one of the reason will be likely how many game companies operate and in what areas they want to invest money. Then again that`s just my way of thinking. :D
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Stephen Northcott Senior Consulting Engineer 11 years ago
I think Michael Shamgar hit the nail on the head.
These companies see the iDevice ecosystem, and ecosystems like it, as a place to dump "AAA" promos for their current product line.

Unfortunately all that means is that Indies are squeezed out because they can't keep up with the marketing machines of these big companies, and these ecosystems will soon become flooded with more of the same. Consumers will have to hunt quite diligently to find those rare gems. And eventually we'll all be playing the same stuff everywhere again. Until the next short-lived "revolution".

As for Need For Speed on the iPad being a "AAA" title. Well I think Mark has a different definition of what "AAA" actually is from the rest of us.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Stephen Northcott on 6th July 2010 12:03pm

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