Editorial: Should Apple Kill iPod Click Wheel Games, or Are They Still Needed? | iLounge Article


Editorial: Should Apple Kill iPod Click Wheel Games, or Are They Still Needed?

One year ago, the App Store launched, quickly transforming the iPhone and iPod touch from media players and limited PDAs into portable game devices and miniature computers. Thanks in part to the wealth of available software, and additionally to Apple price and hardware tweaks, these devices have enjoyed tremendous success—so much so that Click Wheel iPods have faded into the background, and with them, a now minor part of the iTunes Store: the “iPod Games” section, also known as the “iPod Click Wheel Games” section.

Unlike the App Store, which receives dozens of updates every day, the iPod Games collection hasn’t seen a new release since February 3 of this year, which means that iPod nano and iPod classic owners haven’t had a new game to play in more than five months. Yet it’s difficult to say whether this is a good or a bad turn of events. Apple rigidly controlled the iPod Games section, aggressively overseeing game development and setting a fixed $5 price tag for every third-party title. Few developers were allowed to participate, very few of the releases were A-caliber titles—Peggle was a very notable exception—and some of the games were surprisingly poor. Before the flow of new titles ceased, the iPod Games collection had tapered off significantly, with the last release—Cake Mania 3—assembled so unimpressively that we didn’t even want to waste our time reviewing it. Prior to that, we’d reviewed every game released for Click Wheel iPods.


Yet there is clearly demand for more, better, and less expensive games for smaller-screened iPods, as not everyone wants to carry a 3.5” touchscreen device or spend the money to buy it in the first place. That, and the App Store’s success with variable and free pricing for games, has led to obviously upset iPod Click Wheel user reviews such as this one:

“I think it is unfair that there is a ton of free games for the iTouch but none for the regular iPods. Can you make at least one that is free??”


What will Apple do for Click Wheel iPod owners, particularly iPod nano users? Will it push them to accept bigger-screened, bigger-bodied iPod touches if they want games, or develop a smaller alternative? Last year, rumors of an “iPhone nano” and “touchscreen iPod nano” strongly suggested that a smaller-screened device was in the works as a counterpart to the full-sized iPhone and iPod touch, however, the increasing popularity of the App Store and iPhone OS apparently scuttled those plans. So rather than release a smaller iPhone with app incompatibilities, Apple instead opted to offer the full-sized iPhone 3G as a lower priced way to run the same software. But does that preclude a smaller iPod touch? It appears that the same philosophy will prevail through late 2009: there won’t be one. Instead, reliable rumors suggest that the iPod nano will retain its Click Wheel and gain a camera, while the iPod touch will stay about the same size while adding a camera and making other internal improvements. In other words, the Click Wheel is here to stay.

And that means the small, dusty collection of Click Wheel iPod Games will continue to have a place in the iTunes Store, too, but won’t be much of a draw to these devices. We’d like to hear from readers: should Apple continue to maintain the iPod Click Wheel Games section, and if so, what sorts of games should it be focusing on releasing going forward? Or should it continue to ignore the Click Wheel iPods as gaming devices, focusing all of its energy on the App Store? We look forward to reading your comments below.

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Honestly, I’d much rather that Apple spend some time fixing the bluetooth iPod Touch issues so my A2DP Philips Bluetooth headphones (which are compatible with the Sony Bluetooth Dock Connector) would work with the OS 3.0 update that was obviously not tested very well.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 8, 2009 at 2:56 PM (CDT)


I can’t imagine that Apple will do any major push for more click-wheel games. What they could do, and I don’t know that it would help, is open the click-wheel ipods to developers like they have with the iPhone and iPod Touch. My understanding is that Apple commissions click-wheel games, but anyone can write for the iPhone. If they would adopt a similar strategy for the click-wheels, we might see more games, but if not, I can’t see it being a major issue for Apple. It seems clear that the iPhone and iPod Touch are the Swiss Army Knives of the iPod world now, and the Classic-styled iPods are one-trick ponies. The extra features they have are only throwbacks to the day when every iPod was a click-wheel iPod. I would expect that all development for click-wheel iPods to be focused on music management from here on out and all the fancy gadgets to be focused on the Touch and the iPhone. Opening up development might entice some developers, but as for Apple, if they’re going to devote resources to games, they’re likely to do it where the return will be greatest, and that’s almost surely the iPhone. As for free games, it, again, goes back to developers. I don’t think there are any Apple-commissioned free games for the iPhone, whereas my 5G iPod came with two or three.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 8, 2009 at 3:23 PM (CDT)


As the proud owner of a two month old 120GB iPod Classic, I feel as though I must speak out a little on this issue. I would have loved to buy an iPod touch when I bought my most recent iPod, but the storage capacity on the highest model simply does not have enough space to hold my music collection. Until Apple opens up that product to all of their users (i.e. the ones who have a lot of music), I think they should continue showing support for the Classic. I paid for my iPod just like everyone else and I don’t see why Apple should focus 100% on the touches of the world. Bah.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 8, 2009 at 4:49 PM (CDT)


Since getting my 2G touch, I’ve relegated my 60GB 5G iPod to car stereo duty. Although I toyed with some of the free games for the 5G iPod, it’s really the touch I tend to download games and other apps for.

That being said, I really think Apple should open up gaming and other applications for the click-wheel iPods. Though it may never become as lucrative as the app store that serves the iPhone and touch, an expanded click-wheel app store could add significant revenue for the company.

The nano remains extremely popular with users, and even though there isn’t as much conversation about the classic, there is a decent base of users who purchase the classic simply because it is the highest capacity iPod currently available.

Apple would have to loosen its pricing on apps for the click-wheel iPods in order to spur development. Also, companies would have to tailor apps that play to the strengths and weaknesses of the click-wheel interface.

So I don’t see a compelling reason to discontinue apps for the click-wheel iPods. With Apple’s marketing mojo, they could certainly turn click-wheel apps into a must-have item and give a substantial boost to demand for the click-wheel line of iPods.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 8:39 AM (CDT)


I own both a nano and a touch, and have about 14 games on my nano and a hundred on my touch.  I would be ecstatic if new games where released, but what apple needs to do, is contracts some new and large devs to work for the clickwheel section.  There are a few games on my ipod touch that could have the same, if not better controls on my nano.  The two I have come up with are Archibald’s Adventures.  The controls are identical. 4 way joypad and an action button.  This would work beautifully, and I am sure the graphics would work very well.  Second, Frenzic. Tapping away at the clickwheel would be perfect and its quick and anytime gameplay suits the device perfectly.  I am sure even more games could work.  Heck, a stripped down rolando, with only one character, would work fine.  wheel for movement, button for jump, but apple needs to contract some developers and get them interested.  Also, I would be interested if apple released a clickwheel game emulator for the ipod touch, so I could keep all of my games there.  Oh well, I can dream

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 10:11 AM (CDT)


I could not care less about games for the iPod classic. If I want games, I will use my iPhone.

I still love my 160gb Classic as it holds most of my music and all my freelance backup files. How cool is that? I just wish they would reintroduce the 160gb model or even up it to 240gb. Mine will need replacing in about 6 months and I don’t want a 120gb.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 11:24 AM (CDT)


Personally, I feel like they have forgotten that they even released any other ipod other than the “touch” and don’t think it’s fair to those who cannot afford such ipods as the “touch”.
All in all, I feel that they are still needed and that they need to make it up to those they forgot about.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 11:49 AM (CDT)


I don’t have a “touch” due to owning an iPhone. To me, a touch screen is the place to play games, VS. the click wheel. But STORAGE, that’s another story. For all of the high-techness of the iPhone and “touch”, storage isn’t something they offer much of.
I have a 60gb click wheel permanently assigned to my car stereo and a 120gb Classic in my home. Games and many other apps live on my iPhone, and I don’t think I’m that much different from lots of other folks.
I’d hate to see Apple blow it by eliminating the click wheel iPod. In fact, I agree with what Mr. Henderson wrote: Let Apple get the picture and come out with a 240gb next. In fact, maybe they should market it with some kind of storage capacity as the target feature. I would buy one… for sure…

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 3:53 PM (CDT)


I have an old 20 gig click wheel iPod, which I use, not surprisingly, to listen to music and Podcasts on the road and sometimes at work or at home.

Games might be nifty, but music and the spoken word are what I’m interested. An iPod Touch or iPhone isn’t big enough to store all my music and podcasts, so I have no reason to upgrade to those versions.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 6:07 PM (CDT)


Patrick, I’m confused. You currently use a 20GB click wheel iPod, but claim that neither the touch nor the iPhone has enough capacity for your needs? Both the touch and the new iPhone have capacities of 32GB.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 6:53 PM (CDT)


I have a cool Ipod Classic and I enjoy playing click wheel games a lot but lately, all that Itunes care about are the Touch and Iphone. We haven’t seen more click wheel games in months for the Nano and Classic. I have purchased every single click wheel game and I have finished them all. I think I will uninstall Itunes and move to Rockbox. Crossfade Playback is a feature that me (a music lover) enjoy as much as gaming.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM (CDT)


  The way I use my ipod touch is to download (from mobileme) whatever music I need via wifi, the ipod only needs enough storage space to hold the amount of music I need to get me to the next wifi spot where I can download more.

  I also use the slingbox app to connect my ipod to my tivo so I have access to my recorded shows and my cable tv channels via the tivo/slingbox.

Wifi has changed the way one should think about a portable media device, its no longer how much storage the device has, its now about getting to my media files from anywhere. Apple knows this and that is the direction they are heading with ipods.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 10, 2009 at 8:17 AM (CDT)


Gear, you make a good point, but now I’m curious. How do I use mobileme to download music to my touch (or in my case, my iPhone)?

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 10, 2009 at 10:12 AM (CDT)


Gear, i agree wifi has changed the way we do things, but not everyplace on the planet is a wifi hotspot. If i’m on the road, or if I’m not in a wifi spot (which is most of the time if I’m not at home), then the wifi solution isn’t so much a solution.  So while wifi does make a nice improvement in many ways to our technical lives, it’s still not a sufficient solution for many people who are not in a hot spot.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 10, 2009 at 2:50 PM (CDT)


  The music is uploaded to and resides in mobileme as a backup copy to the music files in my computer. I just use the :mobile files” app to go get the songs I want.

  I won’t argue your point about finding wifi in your area, in my area its not an issue, almost everywhere I go I find a hot spot with free access. I will point out that one of the advantages of an iphone is you don’t have to worry about finding wifi hot spots as you can get data through the cell network if you can’t find wifi.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 11, 2009 at 2:14 PM (CDT)


I have an iPod nano 4G and an iPod touch 2G. I use iTouch mainly for playing games, and nano for listening my musics when i’m on the go, since it’s smaller and lighter than iTouch.

I play games a lot. When i don’t bring my iTouch with me, i play games on my nano. That’s why i want my nano full of games, just like my iTouch.

I think the main stream in iPod line is iPod nano. So, Apple should give full support for it, including games.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 12, 2009 at 11:29 PM (CDT)


Well, i own an ipod nano 3rd gen (fat)
and an ipod touch.I find click wheel games very appealing and more addictive than those of the ipod touch.In nano i own naval battle from gameloft,the sims pool also from gameloft,and song summoner from square enix.In ipod touch i have lots of games and apps,free and paid ones.Nano is not supposed to be a gaming devise,whereas touch has been advertised as the most fun ipod.Nano preinstalled free apple games was of top quality,whereas touch came with no installed game.
I love the touch and the nano.I would love to see more games in the nano.Nano game quality is top,whereas most games in the touch have bugs,and control problems.Also the price in click wheel games is much more reasonable.
Make more click wheel games!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 13, 2009 at 4:12 PM (CDT)


Well, I’m obviously in the minority here, but I have deliberately not bought an iPod touch, because I find the click wheel a SUPERIOR interface for many things I like to do, particularly flipping through my photograph collection, for which the touch screen sucks.  Obviously, Apple *could* implement a virtual click wheel on the touch, but knowing them, they never would allow it.

And I love, love, love games!  It was click wheel games that got me so excited about the Nano.  I mean, touch screens are simply not real, and you just can’t compare the experience to a real game pad.  I don’t want to play all my games by tilting or smearing my screen.

So in short, I’m personally sticking with the Nano because I love the click wheel, and I dearly love games.  And I prefer having a dozen awesome ones than thousands of so so ones….

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 4, 2009 at 12:13 AM (CST)


Yea!!! (to Jeff Diamond) I deliberately purchased the Nano over the Touch also. I prefer the click wheel! The touch screen is set up for ITTY-BITTY people with ITTY-BITTY fingers! I don’t have finger nails, I have finger TIPS and I WORK for a living! Contrary to popular thinking, not all guys have turned Metrosexual and get manicures every week. The click wheel is easier to control and needs more support from MAC!

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 28, 2009 at 7:30 PM (CST)


I received the Ipod Classic 160gb for Christmas 2009. I specifically wanted this over any of the other ipods, including ipod touch.
The harddrive space outwins a cool touchable screen with awesome apps and wifi. I’m stuck with click wheel action, but my iPod is specifically for audio, so I wanted as much space as possible. When Ipod Touch is available in a size that is acceptable to my audiophile needs, I’ll make the switch. Until then, I think ipod Click Wheel games still have a demand as long as non “touch” ipods still are on the retail racks.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on January 10, 2010 at 3:42 PM (CST)

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