The Highs And Lows Of Gaming On iPhone’s Application Store

It’s only taken a month for the iPhone* to prove its potential as a gaming platform.

Just a few weeks ago, Apple launched the highly anticipated application store on iTunes, and companies have flooded users with games.

Like any platform, some are better than others, but the store’s numbers don’t lie — people want iPhone games.

Of the top 100 paid-for applications last night, 40 of them were games. Of the non-paid applications, the number was nearly as high — 38. Together, games account for 39% of the total application downloads for the iPhone.

That’s not to say that everything about games on the application store have been a success story. For every success (“Super Monkey Ball”), there’s almost inevitably a bomb. In fact, Sega had one themselves…

* iPod Touch, as well

You didn’t see “Columns” mentioned in the Wall Street Journal’s article on the success of the application store for good reason. “Columns” launched on the store in an incomplete state — it was missing sound effects! — and had a patch rushed to market just to ensure playability. Needless to say, the reviews for “Columns” haven’t been forgiving.

“Sega dropped the ball on this one,” wrote one user. “This is just a port of different cellphone games. The graphics, playability and audio are not what one should expect from an iPhone game. Think the opposite of Super Monkey Ball…”

But these bumps in the road are to be expected in the early development of a platform. Nobody looks back too kindly on Nintendo’s own “Super Mario 64 DS,” do they?

Considering how much Apple has been compared to Nintendo (and Nintendo’s public relations battle to fight perception third-parties don’t sell on Wii), it’s ironic the best selling game on iTunes right now is Apple’s own “Texas Hold’em” title.

Could successes like this prompt Apple to make a proper dive into gaming for years? We’ll have to see.

I’ve been waking up every morning to check what new games have appeared on the store, and I imagine many of you are doing the same. While the world waits for the phone’s killer app — though “Scrabble” is pretty close for me, honestly — everything is off to a promising start.

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Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? What kind of iPhone games do you want to see? Drop me an e-mail.