It’s all fun and games until Apple(s aapl) shutters a section of the iTunes store. Apple has taken down a link to the “iPod Click Wheel Games” section of the iTunes App Store (via AppleInsider). Click wheel games such as Song Summoner by Square Enix used to be available for installation on iPod classic and other compatible models that use the hardware click wheel interface mechanism, but now they are gone from the store.
Click wheel games debuted alongside the iPod classic in 2006, and were backward-compatible with the iPod nano and iPOd video. They were essentially precursors to the iOS games that would later be available for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad devices. While no public SDK was ever released for click wheel game development, third-party developers like Gameloft, EA(s erts), PopCap and Disney (s dis) all released software for the platform. In total, 49 games (including some Kaplan academic study aids) were released for click wheel iPods, with the latest arriving in 2009.
Since it wasn’t exactly a thriving ecosystem like iOS, it’s possible Apple just decided to kill off click wheel games separate from any other concerns, but it’s also possible this is a preparatory move signaling the discontinuation of the iPod classic. Rumors suggest Apple plans to stop production and development of the iPod classic and the iPod shuffle, so it makes sense that the company would also shut down software sales associated exclusively with those devices. The latest nano features a touch screen instead of a click wheel, so the iPod classic is the only currently available device affected.
Updates for the iPod line may be on the docket for a media event Apple has scheduled for Oct. 4, though the star of the show will clearly be the iPhone 5. The iPod classic hasn’t seen an update in a couple of years, but has some very dedicated fans owning to its large storage capacity. Will any of those fans really miss click wheel games, though?