The iPhone X Is Not a Good Gaming Device

So I recently went on high alert after getting an email from AdMob saying that we all need to update our apps so the ads aren’t messed up on the iPhone X screen. This was a few weeks before the iPhone X existed in the world. But we only had 2 weeks after that release to make the changes. In the past it took Apple up to 2 weeks to approve changes, so this seemed like a panic situation.

I would get my iPhone X on Nov 3 and work all that weekend to update my apps so they didn’t violate this AdMob edict. The penalty for failure could be that AdMob kicks me out and my app revenue comes to a halt. So I even spent some time before Nov 3 getting ready by adding code to move the ad down a bit. But I could only do so much until I had the phone in my hands. A feature in Animate/AIR that allowed you to use the iOS simulator from Xcode was broken in the current version, so I couldn’t even guess as to the size of the “notch” at the top of the iPhone X’s screen or the depth of the corner curves. I just nervously tracked my iPhone’s shipment progress and waited.

Turns out, I didn’t have to worry at all. Apps that are not optimized for the iPhone X’s screen simply show in a rectangular window that fits well inside the notch and corner curves. It actually tries to maintain the screen ratio of the iPhone 6/7/8. So all of my games worked fine and the ads weren’t obscured. All that worry for nothing.

But I decided to update some of my games anyway. That way at least they used the whole iPhone X screen.

Well, it turns out the iPhone X is a horrible gaming device. The reason is it is a very vertical screen. Instead of 16 by 9, it is 19.5 by 9. Yeah, that tall.

I guess if I were to develop a game for that screen size, it would be fine. But I make games that have to work at the 4 by 3 ratio of the iPad. I can sometimes stretch them out a bit for iPhone users. But to go from 4 by 3 to 19.5 by 9 is … well, more than a bit of a stretch.

And it gets worse. No home button, right? So there is this new “home indicator” line that appears at the bottom of the screen. And by bottom, I mean the bottom at the current orientation. So a horizontal game, like most games, will have this line taking up 40 pixels or so at the bottom. That makes the remaining space even thinner. So you end up with something like 2436 pixels across and 1085 vertically. To put a 4 by 3 game in there means tons of space to the left and right are blank.

And the notch itself isn’t helping. To center the game, but not try to use the “ears” at the sides of the notch, means that there will be a corresponding blank patch on the right as well.

Now if I had one game that I worked on. One game that I poured my development hours into and maintained and care for. Well, then I would probably have separate screen designs for the iPad, iPhone 6/7/8 and iPhone X. I’d work carefully to optimize the design for each.

But I’ve got 25 games or so, some of which bring in only a few pennies. So I’m not going to do that. And I’m willing to bet that even big development companies with major games aren’t going to make a custom iPhone X design either. The result will be to make the iPhone X an even worse game phone.

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 7:55 pm by site admin · Permalink
In: General