Opinion: The iPhone 6S' 3D Touch Could Potentially Change Gaming As We Know It

While not many core gamers will look to the iPhone as a serious gaming platform, the introduction of 3D Touch technology in the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus has the potential to drastically change the way games are played.

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Today was a momentous day for Apple, in which the company went beyond the expected and revealed a handful of its known quantities with sizable improvements and new features. Among the products revealed was the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus with some notable improvements, like a much faster GPU and double the RAM of the previous model. These phones will also debut an improvement on touch feedback called 3D Touch and for video games, it could be a major step forward.

To put it simply, 3D Touch allows the iPhone to measure touches based on force. The phone, as well as various apps, will take different actions depending on whether users lightly tap, tap as normal, or forcefully tap part of the screen. This kind of tactile feedback is a huge boost for phones and accessing shortcuts. But imagine the gaming possibilities this opens up.

Imagine game mechanics that are centered around "peek" and "pop." With more action, RPG, and puzzle games utilizing the idea of stealth or clandestine movements, having the ability to measure force and sensitivity opens the door to further immersion. Consider some of the scenarios that are now on the table. Think about a horror game, in which the environment reacts accordingly to forceful movements. Open a door too hard and watch a monster react by going straight for the face. Consider the idea of sneaking around a facility, using light taps to sneak around, but heavy taps to take out a guard.

But stealth is just the beginning. How about sports? Imagine a soccer or tennis game, where a ball travels a certain distance based on how forcefully the ball is hit. Platforming? Jumping strength and distance can be controlled based on the strength of a user's tap. A shooter? Taps can let users alternate between rapid fire and burst fire.

It may be easy to dismiss 3D Touch because it's on an iPhone and there's a large sector of the gaming public that does not take mobile gaming seriously. That's fair enough, but what happens when this technology goes beyond Apple's hands. Imagine any of the big console giants making use of this or similar technology? Imagine Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo putting a twist on this tech for a future console. To a certain degree, all of them have tried to get into touch mechanics in some fashion, with the DualShock 4 touchpad and the Wii U GamePad as primary examples. What if the tech was there for peripherals like those to offer tactile feedback?

Such an idea opens the door to a slew of creative developers, first-party and beyond, to either rejuvenate some of their established franchises or create entirely new ones. It may take years for developers to master this idea. After all, it's a new technology that developers are largely unfamiliar with. It's a new frontier. But with years of seasoning, developers have the potential to take their games to new heights. Even PC gaming can get in on this idea. Think of a PC gaming world where a mouse has 3D Touch tech instituted in it, allowing for a slew of PC gaming developers to institute it into their games.

Even if 3D Touch in the iPhone itself doesn't revolutionize gaming, there's a good chance that the technology itself will lead to something huge in the coming years. What starts off modestly in the mobile gaming space has the potential to seriously change PC and console gaming for the better in the future. While it may not be like virtual reality, in terms of pure immersion, it does have the potential to create some new and interesting gaming scenarios, some that would not have been feasible a year ago. So even if the first few iOS games to take advantage of 3D Touch tech may not be the highest quality, the technology itself is definitely something worth monitoring in the coming years.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 9, 2015 3:15 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Opinion: The iPhone 6S' 3D Touch Could Potentially Change Gaming As We Know It

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      September 9, 2015 7:16 PM

      Counterpoint: The original Xbox had pressure-sensitive face buttons. Gamers were continually getting the wrong pressure on accident. Only a couple of games ended up using them, including "Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball."

      Mind you, that was a controller, not a touch screen, but those buttons had travel. How finicky is this going to be on a flat screen with no travel?

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        September 9, 2015 7:25 PM

        PS2 also had analog buttons. MGS2 used it fairly well; I can't think of any other that did, though.

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          September 9, 2015 9:37 PM

          The Dualshock 3 (PS3) also had them. Sony finally did away with them for the Dualshock 4. I know the Gran Turismo series used them, but I always just switched to L2/R2 for gas/brake.

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          September 10, 2015 7:47 AM

          It kinda worked on Gran Turismo, but you kinda went from 0 straight to 50% with nothing inbetween, then 50% to 100% within some tiny analog window, and it was pretty light and hard to really learn since there was no feedback when you got to 100%, and the button really didn't displace as you moved through the analog range. So you couldn't really "feel" it anyway via stops, clicks, range of motion, etc.

          The game physics were dumbed down enough with aids and tricks for controllers it didn't really matter anyway.

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        September 9, 2015 8:14 PM

        When we play games we are interested in timing in the first instance. Small buttons with short throw being manipulated by a thumb which is good at holding objects at different force but incredibly bad at moving at a constant speed with different force.
        When you try to push down with your thumb at different forces you will find that you dramatically change your action speed.

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        September 9, 2015 8:21 PM

        I remember trying to use that in DOA2, it was fucking impossible

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        September 9, 2015 8:27 PM

        The best use of those was in dark alliance where you could press lightly to get a aim line before you shot an arrow

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        September 9, 2015 8:46 PM

        Ahhh, DOAXVB. Lovely Hitomi, my sweet Irish Rose.

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      September 9, 2015 11:54 PM

      For games it will be sweet. I'm personally looking forward to, what will surely be, velocity controls on musical apps as well.

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      September 10, 2015 2:17 AM

      Mobile gaming and immersion? Eh.

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        September 10, 2015 3:02 AM

        Can we just stop using the fucking word immersion to describe games at all? It's utterly meaningless.

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          September 10, 2015 4:03 AM

          It's not meaningless. I rather wonder how you distinguish immersion and addiction.

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            September 10, 2015 4:31 AM

            immersion: deep mental involvement in an activity (so, you can do that with basically any game FFS, hence it's a completely meaningless and overused word in the industry and 90% of game press releases)

            addiction: enthusiastic devotion or dependence on an activity or substance (immersion might lead to it but strictly speaking it's a deeply formed habit or even addiction to endorphins e.g. the thrill of repeated frags)

            Engagement versus dependence, pretty distinct IMO.

            When it comes to games, I think you can have a brilliant story-driven game that you're immersed in but not addicted to (I rarely replay single player games), as well as a grindy MMO with lots of little rewards that trigger steady bursts of excitement and self-satisfaction but you're not heavily immersed in the world or story, it's just a compulsive habit.

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              September 10, 2015 7:15 AM

              Good one. So are people immersed in their smart phones?

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                September 10, 2015 7:54 AM

                You've never seen someone nearly bump into a lamp post while they're walking down the street because they were on a winning streak in Candy Crush on their phone?

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                  September 10, 2015 8:33 AM

                  That's why I'm saying that immersion does not simply mean focusing on something or being distracted. It means something else in gaming IMO.

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                    September 10, 2015 8:35 AM

                    As in, in virtual reality and gaming I'd say it's closer to presence than the original definition.

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      September 10, 2015 3:38 AM

      Go home Shacknews, you're drunk

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      September 10, 2015 3:50 AM

      which generation of new phones is not going to potentially change gaming? None of them have

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      September 10, 2015 4:16 AM

      Candy Crush Saga: Sore Thumbs Edition.

      Pressure sensitive touch input for mobile games will be a gimmick. The reason many like mobile games is because of their "casual simplicity." Tap around the screen to progress. For mobile gaming to be deemed anything but casual, it doesn't need more complex controls, it needs better controls.

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      September 10, 2015 5:52 AM

      Wut?!
      This is nonsense. Id rather have a Amazon Fire Phone. That was some cool 3D shit. I hear its 99 cents now.

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      September 10, 2015 7:34 AM

      Ozzie, put the pipe down.

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      September 10, 2015 7:42 AM

      O.o

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      September 10, 2015 7:56 AM

      It's a goddamn phone. Mobile gaming isn't going to change shit anytime soon

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      September 10, 2015 8:31 AM

      [deleted]

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      September 10, 2015 9:02 AM

      Part of me thinks it would be great, since tap and context is a very limited way to supply inputs to a game. Then I remember all the best mobile games are the best because of their simplicity and I don't want a more complicated mobile game.

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      September 10, 2015 6:05 PM

      I wonder if there is some kind of locked down patent on this or if we will see this on Android phones next year as well?