Mac game makers disappointed by Apple’s iPod shut-out

“Many long-time Mac game developers figured it was inevitable that Apple would one day add premium games to its iPod music player. But when that day finally came earlier this month, many of those same game developers were left wishing they could be a part of it,” Peter Cohen reports for Macworld.

“Of the nine games that made their debut with the iTunes Store, all but two were developed by software makers outside of Apple. However, none of the games came from the companies that Mac gamers usually expect to see on Apple hardware,” Cohen reports. “The result? Many game developers find themselves puzzled by Apple’s decision.”

Cohen reports, “One significant issue that’s hindering software developers’ efforts is the absence of an iPod Software Development Kit (SDK). No iPod SDK has been made available by Apple, and repeated requests from game developers have gone unanswered . Without it, developers don’t have any way of making software to run on the iPod. ‘No one can create anything for the iPod without access to an SDK,’ said one developer. ‘They don’t even have to release that if they don’t want to. I can see not wanting to open the floodgates to every [amateur]. But they have our number… let us sign an NDA and work on some things.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]


  1. This seems like a dumb move on Apple’s part. Why not tap gamers as a whole new base of iPod users and, perhaps, even undercut Gameboy and the PSP.

    The cellular company sell tons of overpriced games to be played on microscopic screens. Apple should make a play for this market.

  2. If the rumors about the ‘true’ iPod video is to be believed, then Apple is wise to keep the SDK private. The 6G iPod should have touch screen interface and probably the SDK will reflect that. Releasing an SDK that will last half a generation is foolish and the developers will have wasted their time on developing games that will be outdated in several months.

    A scroll wheel is a poor input device for many games. If Apple does plan a touch screen for the next iPod, the input device problem is solved and games can be more innovative.

  3. Perhaps the new Video iPod will require different software that releasing an SDK for the current iPods will be obsolete when the games come out and the games will not work on the new video iPod.

  4. With these games, Apple just wanted to anticipate any feature that would eventually come with ZUNE. The final way to play games will be something compatible with iTV. The future SDK will be totally different from any SDK released by now. They have to wait, its not a finished product.

  5. Daniel Eran discusses iPod games and DRM at Roughly Drafted:

    Hacking iPod Games: How Apple’s DRM Works

    “If Apple opened up an iPod API for gaming, we’d no doubt see a a flurry of experimental game apps for the iPod. However, Apple would have to either sell or distribute those games through the iTS, or open up iTunes and the iPod to accept any outside content. That would break the whole iTunes security model.

    Also, allowing the iPod to run unsigned code would eventually result in untested games crashing the iPod or requiring a hard restore. That would be a support issue for Apple.

    As it stands, Apple probably doesn’t care about opening up the iPod as a development platform, since it would introduce more potential problems than it would solve.”

  6. There’s a SDK out there, seven games were developed using it.

    Apple could make some money if they set up a monopoly such that you can get a copy of the SDK if you agree to sell your resulting software for a set price – or range of prices – through iTMS, with Apple getting a cut. Or simply insist that you hand over $.99 for every such program you distribute.

    I won’t be buying any. No ethical or moral principle involved, just no fun factor involved. I tried playing games on my 3G back when it was new. The games were not great, the controls would have made a great game just barely playable, and battery life suffered. Where’s the up-side? When Apple comes out with their vPod – the one with a touch-screen covering the entire side of the Pod, maybe they will include controls that don’t ruin what otherwise might be a briefly entertaining game.

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