At the dawn of a new era of iPhone gaming – Le Journal de Montréal

You only have to watch Resident Evil 4’s Leon Scott Kennedy running through the forest for a few moments on the screen of an iPhone 15 Pro Max, with textures, lighting and movement almost console-worthy, to come to this conclusion: the The boundaries of mobile gaming as we previously knew them no longer hold.

Resident Evil 4 is one of the titles at the center of a new push by Apple to establish itself in video games. In addition to this new version of the famous Capcom game, Apple also recently announced the release of Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Death Stranding Director’s Cut, which I also had the opportunity to briefly try out this week during an event organized by Apple.

Resident Evil 4 can also be played with on-screen controls on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Video: Maxim Johnson.

All of these games will be released in the coming months on Mac, iPadOS and the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max (the only two models powerful enough for complex titles in the genre).

And these represent the culmination of a strategy that Apple implemented several years ago.

Chips and APIs

First, there are the fleas. These (both the A series on the iPhone and the M series on Macs) not only become more powerful from generation to generation. They are also increasingly suitable for video games.

For example, the latest M3 chips (found in the latest MacBooks and the new iMac) and A17 Pro (found in the iPhone 15 Pro) support ray tracing, allowing for more realistic light reflection in games. Apple has also implemented features to maximize the stability of games and new technologies to improve their visual fidelity.

It’s not just AAA games that benefit from the advances in Apple’s chips. Even traditional mobile games, as shown in this beta version of Diablo Immortal, which has ray tracing enabled. Video: Maxim Johnson.

The rest of the ecosystem, particularly the Metal application programming interface (API), has also made great progress over the years.

The company is not reinventing the wheel. On the contrary: When it comes to developing tools that make the work of large video game developers easier, they are slowly catching up.

And since the iPhone 15 Pro, these improvements have been significant enough to allow developers to port real AAA games with high graphics quality to mobile devices. Mobile gaming as we know it isn’t going away (Apple also unveiled other more conventional games this week, like The Division: Resurgence, Sonic Dream Team and Hello Kitty Island Adventure), but it’s a new option available to gamers stands.

Really the same games?

In the two examples tried here, the games are exactly the same as on PC and consoles. The gaming experience is identical. Death Stranding doesn’t even have any on-screen controls to play it with your iPhone. To use this you need a controller or a backbone adapter.

But is the quality the same? Not exactly. I found Resident Evil 4 particularly beautiful in bright scenes, but a little less beautiful in darker scenes (it’s a shame it’s not the other way around!). Death Stranding’s textures on the iPhone were just as realistic as on the console, but the image quality seemed to deteriorate quickly towards the horizon. It’s also hard to predict what frame rate the game will be able to display, but a constant 60 frames per second would surprise me.

The Death Stranding Director's Cut game is one of the large-scale games expected soon on the iPhone.

While it’s good, the quality of games presented on the iPhone 15 Pro Max wasn’t the same as on Macs. Photo: Maxim Johnson.

Apple’s software tools and chips aren’t magic, after all. A MacBook Pro with M3 Max is more powerful than an iPhone 15 Pro. Therefore, it is normal that there is a difference in quality between the two. But as far as I saw, the acceptable threshold was still met on the iPhone.

My only downside, however, is the text, which often appears small. For content-heavy games, a phone is probably a platform to avoid.

How much will you pay for these games?

Only Capcom has announced the price of its game for now: $60, the same price as on other platforms. However, this is a universal purchase that you can also download to an iPad and a Mac.

And of course your games will be synced across all your devices.

Ubisoft and Kojima Productions haven’t announced their intentions yet, but I have a feeling a similar strategy will prevail.

After all, a phone will probably never be the device of choice for large-scale gaming. For all their strengths, the latest iPhone 15 Pros are less powerful than the latest Macs, and that will always be the case. And these games are designed to be played on large monitors or TVs. Not on the small screen of a phone.

The market for $80 mobile-only games is probably vanishingly small. Personally, I know I would never pay that much.

The Death Stranding Director's Cut game is one of the large-scale games expected soon on the iPhone.

Resident Evil 4, on three different devices. Photo: Maxim Johnson.

However, for developers, and Apple in particular, it’s all more a question of the ecosystem. Because Mac, iPad and iPhone share the same software tools and chips, it is possible to connect multiple types of devices at the same time. Death Stranding is not ported to the iPhone. It focuses on the Apple ecosystem.

So the question won’t be whether you’d rather play your next game on your phone rather than your computer. Rather, it’s about knowing which device suits you best at the moment (a vision that also aligns with that of Microsoft with its Xbox Cloud Gaming).

That’s kind of what it’s like, this new era of gaming on the iPhone. Sometimes the platform of choice is a computer, an iPad, or a television (the Apple TV will eventually be powerful enough to enjoy these games too). Sometimes it will be in virtual reality, with the Apple Vision Pro (no one has confirmed it, but I bet the games featured here will also be on this headset when it launches next year). And sometimes it’s on his phone.