In the midst of the excitement of the iPhone 4 launch today, EA launched its NCAA Football game for iPhone. In a somewhat surprise move, EA has released two different versions to the App Store. One for the usual iPhone/iPod touch market and one that's specifically rendered for the iPhone 4's high resolution Retina display. The iPhone 4 version of the game costs a dollar more ($7.99) than its standard counterpart ($6.99).

We're not sure why they choose to confusingly name the iPhone 4 counterpart as an "HD" title which has up until this time been reserved for iPad versions. One interesting side effect of having two different versions like this is that we are able to do direct screenshot comparisons of the "pixel doubled" regular version and the full resolution version on our brand new iPhone 4s.

We haven't yet had a chance to delve too much into the game, though on first blush it appears similar to their Madden NFL 2010 title.

Now, as for the screenshots and comparison. First, everything you've heard about the iPhone 4's Retina display is true - it looks amazing. And games optimized for it also look amazing. The problem is it's impossible to really tell based on screenshots, you need to see it in real life. But, absent that, these comparison shots are probably the next best thing.

Left: Pixel Doubled on iPhone 4, Right: Native resolution on iPhone 4

You need to click to the full size versions to appreciate the difference. But the blockiness apparently in the standard versions are apparent when playing on the iPhone 4. It'll be hard to go back to regular iPhone gaming after you start playing on an iPhone 4.

  • PARRANOYA

    And what about working on the iPad?

  • Cameron

    I don't get the screenshot comparison. Pixels doubled? What?

    • Wmcwmc

      As you can see in the pics(open them in new tabs) the one on the right is clearer since it has the double the pixels(dots). [More Pixels=Clearer Image]

      • Cameron

        I don't see the purpose. Why did they double the pixels? What does that show?

    • arn

      Sorry I'd it wasn't clear. We played both regular versions and iPhone 4 versions on the iPhone 4. For regular versions , the pixels ate double automatically to fill the screen. The result is an image that is the same as playin on a regular iPhone but that's obviously worse than the hi Rez version.

      arn

  • jules2k

    hmn.. so that means that playing any normal not specificly adjusted iPhone game on the iPhone 4 will result in graphical mess? I mean, the original not adusted screenshots really look bad.
    Because every game would be displayed pixle dubbled and therefore look relatively bad -- so wouldn't it be some kind of a downstep to play on the iPhone 4 while 99.9% of the games are not avalible in a iPhone HD version?

    • arn

      No, the pixel doubled version on the iphone 4 looks the same as if you were playing on a normal iPhone. It looks bad compared to the high Rez.

      They are doubling it and then displaying it in half the space. So net effect is doing nothing.

      arn

    • Hildegunst

      No. The iPhone 4 manages to squeeze 4 pixels in the same space that is occupied by a single pixel on old iPhones and iPod Touches. That means if the iPhone 4 quadruples the pixels (doubles height and width, quadruples pixels) of a regular title, it'll look EXACTLY the same as if you'd play it on your 3GS. The only exception would be text that is rendered by the iOS - those are doubled in actual size (not pixel doubled) and result in twice as sharp text.

      What this means: Normal iPhone titles can ONLY look better on an iPhone 4 and NEVER worse.

  • http://mayblogmaynot.blogspot.com Maniacfive

    I've been playing game son my iPhone 4 today that havent been designed for the new display, and they honestly don't look that bad.

    I'm not saying EA deliberately coded the normal version to look like ass on the new phone as an excuse to get an extra dollar out of us, but, well, yes, uh, that is what I'm saying.

  • Voodoovyper

    I keep seeing so many unanswered iPad questions... I just dl'd the Carcasonne update which gives better visuals. I took screenshots on both versions on the iPad and they look identical in 2x mode. What gives?

    • SalsaMD

      The update probably will display the high res assets on an iphone4, but doesn't recognize the ipad as a high res idevice and just displays the normal assets.

    • arn

      Carcassone did some tricks to look good in 2x mode I believe.

      arn

    • SalsaMD

      I am curious how this iphone4 specific title would look on an ipad...

  • SalsaMD

    There are already angry itunes customers who purchased the iphone4 version without realizing that it won't work on their IPT or older iphones.

    • Kamazar

      So many idiots out there it's not even funny.

  • dumas1000

    EA is very unstable in terms of their pricing structure. Luckily, I'm not tempted here. Mirror's Edge and Tiger Woods 11 are due out soon, I would assume. Then I might have some issues. Especially with Tiger Woods, if there are vast improvements from last year. Must resist Insa-buy. Must resist Inst-buy. EA will slash their initial price within weeks, if not days.

  • Sticktron

    They should call the big iPad apps XL, and the higher resolution (but same screen size) apps HD. That would be more logical to me.

    • SalsaMD

      The question now is will there be added value of the ipad version of a game compared to the pixel doubled iphone 4 version...

  • eev

    screenshot comparison is not really fair, there is difference of course, but on small display of iphone it won't be so noticable like on these screenshots. The major difference will be with text. Already vga is much more better for reading, and with new iphone it will be even better.

  • Tony

    This is not good. No matter how you slice it a fractured model of games that will run only on one specific device is not a good strategy. To the poster who said there are a lot of stupid people out there to have to download the correct version should grow up.

    We have been fed on the pavlovian model of click to buy and mistakes happen. So now we have games that only run on ios3, games that are optimized for the ipad only, games that will run only on ios4 and probably games that will only run on ios4 on new hardware. Some of these games are universal and some are not. Some are defined by HD and some are not.

    I think this is a mess and not in favor of the success of the platform.

    • SalsaMD

      At least for the ipad, there is a separate section in iTunes. Not so for the iphone4...

    • Jindo Fox

      I don't get it. I can purchase the HD version on my 3GS. I presume it will run, just not as pretty as the 4. If it's really iPhone 4 only, why would Apple allow it on the store without a giant disclaimer?

      • SalsaMD

        Have you tried to run an iphone4 game on your 3GS, or do you merely speculate?

  • jeffmd

    One thing you guys need to keep in mind, sure the iphone 4 has an upgraded gpu, but it is also pushing 4x the resolution then the old displays. Pushing pixels at higher resolutions is NOT free. It is hard to speculate just how more detailed games can be, although we clearly havn't seen a good demonstration of the increased capabilities the 3g units have had over the older generation devices either. Alot of game manufacturers have been keeping their games backward compatible to the slowest iphone.

  • ArcadeStick

    I'm not so big a fan of this. I like that the iPhone 4 version looks great, but fracturing the marketplace is a big, BIG mistake IMO. The great thing about the app store is you can jump in, click buy and you know its going to work (at least 99% of the time). Now you are going to have to check each and every app to see which version you need. This is going to confuse the hell out of my parents.