Gaming is huge for Apple. It represents both a huge chunk of their revenue from the App Store and a significant driver of sales for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch product lines. So it should be no surprise that the iPad Mini was built for gaming. The iPad Mini fills an important niche between the almost-desktop, full tablet experience of the iPad and the portable, but oft-congested experience of the iPhone.
When it came to gaming, the iPad was great because it offered a “full screen” gaming experience that rivaled browser-based games. Games like Need for Speed and Final Fantasy 3 could be displayed in beautiful high definition, with plenty of screen real estate for interfaces or large battlefields. The problem, however, was that the iPad was actually too big for truly portable gaming. It’s 9.7” screen is impossible to fully use with one hand and difficult to hold comfortably while standing on the subway. This lead to the iPad being the device of choice for full-featured “mobile” games that were most commonly played at home in long sessions.
On the other side of the spectrum, the ultra-portable iPhone was too small for many of those full-featured iPad games. Screen real estate limited many games and their interfaces, resulting in either tiny interfaces, interfaces that cluttered the battlefield screen, or both. Games like Gun Bros and Star Legends (pictured above) were successful in spite of these screen limitations, but their UX difficulties showed that the 4.0” iPhone screen was too small for a full featured, yet truly mobile game.
If the iPad is too big, and the iPhone is too small, then the 7.9" iPad Mini is just right. It fits perfectly in one hand, so it’s as portable as an iPhone, while it’s big screen dominates the device, giving games much more screen real estate. The iPad Mini is that perfect middle between the two existing products, and it’s perfect for truly full-featured mobile gaming. The iPad Mini also sports the A5 Dual Core Chip and has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2 (1024x768), so not only will these games be more convenient to play, but they will be displayed beautifully and at impressive speed.
One simply needs to look at the successes of other, similar sized tablets to size up the opportunity for the game industry. The Kindle Fire (7”) and other similarly sized Android tablets monetize significantly better than their smartphone counterparts, and iOS applications have always monetized better than Android applications. When you combine these two factors, the iPad Mini could potentially hit the monetization sweet spot as a platform for mid-core and hardcore mobile gaming.