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'Spore Origins' Headlines New Batch of EA Games for iPhone, iPod

By Walaika Haskins MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 8, 2008 4:00 AM PT

Just as PC gamers in the U.S. and Canada are about to lay hands on the full version of "Spore," Will Wright's latest creation, Electronic Arts announced Friday that a moblie version of the game is coming to the iPhone and iPod touch.

'Spore Origins' Headlines New Batch of EA Games for iPhone, iPod

As with "Spore," "Spore Origins" puts gamers in the middle of a world where it is either eat or be eaten. The game takes players on a journey through an environment comprised solely of primordial ooze. As they devour weaker creatures and run from stronger predators, gamers move through two modes and 35 levels.

Unlike "Spore," the game does not advance through the evolution of a species. It is completely different from the PC, Mac and DS versions, has a different audience, and was built for more casual gameplay, EA said.

"'Origins' is more of a creature creator feature than a regular game," Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Morgan analyst, told MacNewsWorld. "The idea is to allow 'Spore' players to have fun on their handhelds and to attract new players by introducing them to the creature creator. While there is game play, it is limited to 35 levels and is likely to be quite simple."

In addition to "Spore Origins," EA announced nine other upcoming titles for the iPhone and iPod touch, including "Lemonade Tycoon," "Monopoly: Here and Now," "Need for Speed," "The Sims 3" and "Yahtzee Adventure." EA gave no release dates and said availability will vary by region.

"Spore Origins" is available at the iTunes Store for US$9.99. An iPod version is also available, priced at $4.99.

Spreading Spores

The Cell stage of "Spore" inspired the iPhone and iPod touch versions, said Mike Pagano, producer, Spore Origins iPhone for EA Mobile.

"We knew it would be perfect for the iPhone," he told MacNewsWorld. "Its intuitive casual gameplay and simple control scheme would adapt extremely well to the platform's mobile, casual nature and unique touch and tilt controls."

Using the built-in accelerometer, users can tilt, turn and twist as they maneuver through the game's primordial ooze-based environment.

"The unique capabilities of the iPhone and iPod touch offer a new mobile gaming experience through the use of their touch screens, motion sensors and high-definition graphics. For the first time, the device itself actually becomes an essential part of the game, enhancing game playability like never before," Pagano explained.

"It contains a simpler version of the 'Creature Creator,' which we saw as a must-have -- how could you not want to stretch, squeeze, and shape your creature? It gives the player a great canvas to interact with their creature to make it their own," he said. "I love giving the game to my coworkers to see the crazy variations they can create with their vivid imaginations."

A New Gaming Platform

In the iPhone and iPod touch game, developers have a new gaming platform, Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy at Jupitermedia, told MacNewsWorld.

"The iPhone and the iPod touch are really game platforms. Some developers have called them as powerful as PlayStation. They really have the architecture," he said.

The Apple devices offer gaming developers a large touch screen, room to build out touch controls, and the accelerometer that allows users to move characters by tilting the phone, Gartenberg noted.

"You really have the makings of what appears to be a real viable game platform for game developers to embrace, and we're seeing developers do just that," he continued.

Sega, for instance, sold 300,000 downloads of its "Super Monkey Ball" in the first few weeks. The high sales have made it the best-selling game on the iPhone so far.

"Those are real numbers and real titles generating revenue," Gartenberg said. "We are going to see a continued evolution of mainstream, casual games on these devices."

Wedbush Morgan's Pachter doubts that "Spore Origins" will be a "meaningful revenue driver," though, suggesting the game is more a way for EA to expand the game experience to a new set of users.

"'Spore' skews somewhat older than most video games. The hip, affluent and 'old' iPhone crowd -- average age mid-20s -- is probably a good target audience for the game," he suggested.

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