At Tuesday’s presentation of the iPhone 15, Apple put emphasis on games. Along with hearing from developers about improved hardware and software capabilities, some of the biggest console games were announced to be arriving on the iPhone – such as Resident Evil 4 remake, Resident Evil Village and Death Stranding. The difference between the iPhone and other handheld gaming devices like Steam Deck is becoming increasingly blurred – especially with the arrival of the 15 Pro.
Apple recently shared that Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a soon-to-release game created by Ubisoft from its acclaimed franchise, would also be compatible with iPhone 15 Pro, further enabled by hardware-accelerated ray-tracing dynamic lighting effects. This comeThe iPhone 15 Pro: The Future of Mobile Gaming as the Next AAA Game Consoles as no surprise considering the monumental impact the first iPhone had by permitting third-party developers to develop apps, fuelling an already growing mobile gaming industry that has since become a lucrative market. However, Apple and Mac have yet to penetrate the console and PC gaming sphere which is still dominated by the traditional players in the industry.
The iPhone 15 Pro, equipped with the A17 Pro processor, is up to par with other console PCs such as the Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go. This combined with the Backbone One USB-C controller already supporting the device makes it a powerful gaming platform likely to render bulky gaming hardware redundant. Apple has every chance to finally be recognised as a major studio game release destination.
While the iPhone has excess technical capability, a massive installed user base and some flagship game industry partners, it could still fail to become a AAA game console. Even though iOS remains a stretch when compared to Windows (or SteamOS, which doesn’t really need to be a separate target), Apple is making strides with compatibility tools, particularly since its WWDC developer conference earlier this year.
The larger issue is whether Apple can create and sustain strong partnerships with game developers on the same level as Sony and Microsoft. The method of building relationships with studios, incentivizing exclusives, timed exclusives, etc., has never been an area Apple has emphasized. However, with the launch of Apple Arcade a few years back, it seems they have taken more steps. It helps that they have access to a huge potential consumer base – although their focus on the Pro series now does somewhat limit that without the classic non-Pro iPhone available.
It’s likely that the entry-level iPhone will gain gaming chops much faster than successive console generations as the A17 Pro trickles down the line next year, and Apple’s processor progress means that the entry-level iPhone will likely gain gaming chops at an even faster clip next year. As a matter of fact, niche devices such as the Steam Deck are unlikely to receive annual improvements due to the cost-benefit equation involved.
I haven’t even touched on how video out and wide, multimanufacturer-native controller support mean the iPhone 15 Pro could theoretically replace not just a handheld AAA console, but also a living room one. There are so many reasons for this to happen, and the 15 Pro appears to be the generation that breaks open those floodgates and makes “Coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and iPhone” a default.