namcoWe broke the news a few weeks back that Namco Networks had created a dedicated Apple Games group, separate from the rest of its mobile division, to allow a particularly strong focus on the iPhone as a games platform.  We recently had the chance to interview Jonathan Kromrey, head of the new Apple Games group, regarding the formation of the division and what it means to iPhone gaming.

Kromrey, who spent time as a producer at I-Play Mobile Gaming, has most recently been part of Apple's own, internal iPhone apps division and was involved with the phenomenally successful Apple iPhone game release of Texas Hold'em [App Store].  He came to Namco Networks, bringing with him a team of developers from both Apple and EA, with the goal of "bringing freshness and newness to iPhone gaming."  He indicates that his group has plans to not only bring a number of popular Japanese Namco titles to the iPhone, but also to generate wholly new titles written specifically for the platform.  And when asked if the division intends to act as a publishing arm for independent developers, his response was a definitive "hell yes!"  In fact, the group has signed two such deals, one of which will bear App Store fruit within the month.

804917Kromrey calls the iPhone "a wide open platform," ripe for both hardcore as well as casual game titles that everyone can enjoy.  And games along these lines should appear scattered across the price-point scale.  His group feels that a sound strategy for iPhone game releases involves basic, quick-play games at a low ($.99) price point, more involved and full-featured titles at a moderate ($4.99) price point, as well as long-play, large-scale games complete with microtransactions at a premium ($9.99) price point.  And, in our reckoning, this seems the right strategy to maximize a studio's market penetration.

iPhone 3GS owners have particular reason to be excited about Namco Network's newly formed division.  Kromrey calls the difference in capabilities between the iPhone 3G and 3GS "huge," and points to Namco's popular I Love Katamari [App Store] as an example of a title that illustrates the increased power of the 3GS.  And, more than just delivering games with higher framerates on Apples' new unit, Kromrey's team fully intends to exploit the features of the new device (such as the OpenGL ES 2.0 pipeline) in full.

Soul_Calibur_DCIn other, recent interviews, Namco Networks' Apple Games chief has been asked about the possible arrival of Tekken, Soulcalibur, and the like on the iPhone platform.  And while he would not confirm any specifics, Kromrey indicated that, with such titles, getting the controls exactly right is key, and that depending in particular on success in this area, the iPhone may indeed see such titles lighting up its four-inch touchscreen.

  • supakoopa

    I would love to see another Katamari, the first one is my favorite iPhone game to date.

  • K

    TEKKEN!!!

  • http://www.games.org.au games

    jus gr8 this such which u will not want to missed it try it

  • Aaron

    What I don't get is that the general 3G and touch hardware is already above the PSP, so why can't the developers work with that? I guess I'm just wondering if it's a hardware/software limitation vs just poor optimization and scaling from developers. Just look at games like Toki Tori with superbly smooth graphics, Real Racing, even Chimps Ahoy. Just for kicks, I'll even add Dr. Awesome for fantastic 2D artwork. I'm all for newer, faster hardware, but I don't think developers have maximized their ability to efficiently utilize what's already been there before jumping onto the new bandwagon.

  • http://www.heyitspete.com Pete Ellison

    Dear Namco,

    Mr. Driller for iPhone please, thanks.

    Love,
    Pete

  • Silverfist

    If they can get controls that don't suck and bring out Soul Calibur, I would be a happy, happy man...

  • AIM-R8

    I just don't see Tekken happening on the touch screen, at least without turning it into a more casual experience. The iPhone needs physical controls for fighting games. I'd love to see Street Fighter 4 on the iPhone!

    • Chad

      They could have shortcut commands like Tekken on GBA and SFIV (d/f, d/f+P for SRK).

  • http://www.dunkshoes100.com nike dunks sb

    Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

  • Entropic

    If Soul Calibur came out on the App Store, I would never look away from my screen again.

  • eggzbacon

    Interview?
    I don't see an interview

  • Fokion

    Fighters on the iPhone? Nah, thanks... only if Namco releases an iPhone gamepad that works, along with the games.

    • AIM-R8

      Yup we're in agreement. I don't doubt that they can bring a fighter to the iPhone, but fighting games is just one of those genres that require gamepads or some manner of precise control.

      They can introduce shortcut commands like Chad suggested above, but they should also introduce a physical controller for the serious players. This way people can choose.

      If they can do a Tekken 6 Joystick bundle, then they should come up with some manner of peripheral for the iPhone too. I see it as a gamepad in a foldable case of some sort, and the iPhone slots in on the other side. Anyone ablt to do some mockups? Namco might be reading this :)