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Mobile studios ready to tackle the new iPad's development challenges

Apple's latest iPad hits stores today with new features that promise to improve the platform's gaming capabilities. But how will these new features affect mobile developers already working on iOS?
Apple's latest iPad hits stores today with new features that promise to improve the platform's performance, and ultimately, its gaming capabilities. But what do actual game developers think of the device? Gamasutra recently spoke with a number of current iOS developers to get their thoughts on Apple's newest hardware. While many of the studios expect development hiccups along the way, they're excited by the prospect of having more powerful tech to work with. Alongside its A5X quad-core graphics chip, the new iPad introduces a high-resolution Retina display, bumping the device's pixel count from 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536. While this new screen will offer increased visual fidelity, Will Stallwood of Auditorium studio Cipher Prime says it could take some getting used to. "Supporting the higher resolution will definitely take some work, which we haven't fully spec-ed out just yet," he said, noting that he plans to "continue tapping into [the platform's] excellent new features as they come online." Gree's senior product manager Akihito Ninomiya (who created the social title Zombie Jombie) agreed that the new tech could introduce some new challenges, but said "it is worth any additional effort to make sure we can take advantage of the latest technologies." Prolific mobile developer Gameloft echoed the sentiment, but added that it took some precautions to prepare for the device's official debut. "Weeks before the official unveiling of the new iPad, we started analyzing the various rumors related to this new device and drafting various scenarios about its possible specifications and options available to us to adapt our games to it," said a spokesperson from the company. "Apple’s keynote then enabled us to lock down the best scenario and fine tune our adaptation efforts," the company added. "While it is a real challenge for us to adjust to completely new hardware, it is also very exciting." Other developers, like Action Button founder and ZiGGURAT creator Tim Rogers, aren't concerned about the new tech or display, and believe some games will work well regardless of the device (or resolution) they were built for. "The games we make are all fairly retro-evocative, and I'm one of those weirdos who loves the way original PlayStation games' pixels look upscaled to 1080p on an enormous TV… Apparently, many ZiGGURAT players are that type of (lovable) weirdo as well, because I've seen people tweeting photos of ZiGGURAT on their new iPad ever since this morning," he said. "One player told me it's the only iOS game he has that the new screen doesn't make look all busted and smeary; I'd love to say we planned for that, though I suppose that's just the magic of pixels." Greg Harper, North American GM at Supercell, provided his own take, and said, "The more powerful hardware in the new iPad pushes the whole industry to up its game. Some lucky players will soon experience even more mind-blowing games and graphics on their new iPads. That will motivate all of us to make sure our games can match those new expectations." Regardless of how this new device will affect game development, Nathan Vella of Sword & Sworcery EP studio Capy explained that there's one very important reason to take on whatever development obstacles a new iPad might bring. "There's a significant difference, from a developer point of view, between new Apple iOS hardware versus any other mobile platform," he said. "The difference is that you can be assured, with absolute certainty, that consumers will adopt it." "That knowledge makes it much easier to determine whether the hard costs, and opportunity cost, of bringing a game to the new SKU is worth it. You're not developing for new device you hope will find it's way into consumers hands -- you're developing for a new device that you know will end up in millions and millions of hands," he added.

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