Apple Proves Why Gaming Phones Are Doomed To Fail Despite Triple-A Push

Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4 standing next to Ashley in screenshot on an iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Apple

Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 4 standing next to Ashley in screenshot on an iPhone 15 Pro Max
Credit: Apple

Since its debut in late 2023, Apple has marketed gaming as one of the major aspects of the iPhone 15 Pro and the Pro Max. Thanks to the powerful chipset within Apple’s flagship smartphones, the latest and most premium iPhone models have successfully played some of the biggest triple-A releases of the past few years.

We played the iPhone version of Death Stranding and were seriously impressed by how well the game performs on a smartphone. Pairing it with the best phone controller provides an almost console-like experience on the go. With the rise of the best iPhone emulators in recent memory, you have a solid gaming experience on your smartphone.

However, as gaming smartphones like the underwhelming ASUS ROG Phone 8 target a niche market of gamer-centric handsets, and Apple aims to attract those who enjoy both mobile games and console titles, it appears that phones specifically designed for gaming may not survive.

According to an analysis from Mobilegamer.biz, none of the recent iOS ports of triple-A releases have garnered significant sales. For example, the recent Assassin's Creed Mirage port on iOS has had roughly 3,000 users purchase the full experience for $49.99. More generous estimates from another data firm put it at 5,750 users, which may sound like a lot, but the estimated revenue is just $221,000 before any cuts from Apple.

Other ports haven't fared well either. It’s safe to say that Apple’s effort to port console titles onto iPhones hasn’t resonated well with iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max customers. While there’s no clear consensus as to why the sales of these ports aren't great, we can theorize a few reasons.

Firstly, many of these games are already available on other platforms before joining the App Store. It’s likely that fans of these games, especially those in established franchises, are playing them on dedicated consoles or PCs. Additionally, the simplicity of mobile games makes them a preferable choice over dealing with controller-style buttons.

The head of content at Appmagic, the data firm behind some of these statistics, offered some insights into the low sales. “These figures are far from a success, especially when compared to the sales achieved by AAA games on their primary platforms,” says Andrei Zubov. “This suggests that these games have already captured a significant portion of their potential revenue and will now sustain much lower earnings.”

As the iOS 18 release date approaches and the eventual launch of the iPhone 16 looms, it will be interesting to see whether Apple continues to invest in ensuring ports arrive on iPhones or whether it will focus on its upcoming Apple Intelligence features as a major selling point.

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