I usually spend about an hour a day playing iPhone games. It’s rarely something I get excited about but It seems a good way to pass the train trip when I don’t have my laptop to work on. This seems wrong to me. There are many PC games that I look forward to playing in my free time (Minecraft anyone) so why doesn’t the same thing happen with the games on my iPhone?

Right now I feel that I have a decent amount of games on my iPhone but still tend to pick it up and have trouble finding something that will engage me even for just a few minutes. What’s missing that can’t get me nearly as involved in playing an iPhone game as a browser game? Looking through the app store I find that most of the games are simply clones of a game I’ve played somewhere else and the top games are fairly stagnant so it’s not that easy to find good games. Why is this? Why aren’t there new and brilliant games every week?

The first thing I notice is that there seems to be a severe underrepresentation of many game genres that I tend to enjoy such as the following:

RPGs – While the app store is full of a multitude of online RPGs there seem to be very little in the way of traditional single player RPGs. I’m not sure when everyone decided that online RPGs were the way of the future but personally I can’t stand them. I don’t want to be denied playing a game just because I happen to be out of reception. I don’t want to have to wait until tomorrow to play because my energy ran out. I don’t want to have to invite 5 friends to get some item. And I especially don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on things because I’m not willing to pay real money for in game items.

RTS – I’m yet to play a single real time strategy game for iPhone. I’m sure there would be some out there but as of yet I haven’t seen it. I can see how this is a hard genre to port to a small device but surely it can be done in some form. There are of course a lot of tower defense games that can be in some way considered strategy but I find that most tower defense games don’t bring anything new or interesting to the table.

Run and jumps – For this genre I really don’t know why there aren’t more. Mario style games seem perfect for the iphone but still seem very rare. There is a huge amount of general action games but most get very repetitive after the first few initial plays. Also I find a lot of the run and jumps use the accelerometer instead of a d-pad which tends to make the game much harder to control and detracts a bit from the action. Miner Disturbance is one game that I feel has done well here.

While I do feel like the lack of these genres causes a hole in my personal gaming experience, on top of this I find that there just isn’t enough innovation going on with iPhone games so most games only keep my attention long enough for me to realise that it is just like all the other ones. Some of the new flash games coming out have amazing ideas that make me want to play the game to the end so why aren’t we seeing the same kind thing on mobile platforms? Are the ideas there and are just getting lost in the hundreds of thousands of other games or are we merely seeing games the focus on marketing above user experience?

My main motivation behind this post is that I’m contemplating putting a large amount of time into creating an iPhone game but would like to hear peoples thoughts on what they would like to see in the app store and what they think is missing. So please let me know what games you think are missing from the iPhone or share some good ones that you’ve come across