With the announcement of the iPad and the demos of its gaming chops, you would think gamers would be happy. But it seems like Apple missed an opportunity to take mobile gaming somewhere new–by using the iPad as a hub for networked iPhones and iPod Touches. The OS was updated to support peer-to-peer play, why not connect the iPhone with its mother ship? Consider the following scenario.
A group of friends is huddled around a coffee table to play Zynga’s Poker Live. On the table as a centerpiece is an iPad–it shows a 6 and a pair of Aces as the flop, with a current pot of $100,000. Each player looks at their hand on their iPhones, considers how much they are going to bet. One player taps their bet higher and then flicks their chips off of their iPhone screen and onto the pot pile on the iPad. That’s how you do touchscreen Texas Hold’em.
Using the iPad in a networked game with iPhones would revolutionize mobile gaming. Imagine board games: The Scrabble board in the center, with everyone examining their tiles on their personal screens. Electronic Arts is already on board the iPad train–make it happen, guys!
More traditional video-game experiences could be enhanced as well. Strategies games ala Command and Conquer with the battlefield in the center, but each player controls their units on their iPhones; Puzzle games ala Peggle where players deal with their own set of pieces, but effect the larger group in the center; Third-person shooters ala Gears of War where you can see how the tide is turning on the gunfight on the iPad.
So why did Apple not discuss how iPads use peer-to-peer play, nevermind connectivity with the iPhone? I think with all things iPad, Jobs and Company played it safe and didn’t add anything new except iBooks–which wasn’t yet proven innovative. It will take an iPad 2, with cameras and Augmented Reality, with multitasking and a larger screen, for the iPad gaming revolution to really begin.