3 iOS Game Developers to Watch


Many of the developers we’ve come to know and love on the iPhone platforms started small, but have been acquired by larger companies since achieving success. But there are still smaller players out there, and the products they’re putting out are among the most exciting available.

Here are just three examples of terrific games recently released in the App Store, and the developers behind them.

1. Beast Boxing 3DGoodhustle Studios, Inc.

This is a great new game, released just before Halloween. If you’re a fan of Nintendo’s Punch-Out!, you’ll find the gameplay pleasantly familiar. Don’t think for a second that it’s just a clone, though. There are RPG game elements, like the ability to trade coins earned in-game for increased stats, and you have more variety of control, perfectly suited to the iPhone’s touchscreen. But what’s probably most impressive about Beast Boxing are the graphics. Each character is beautifully rendered in 3D with careful attention to detail, and in-game animation is silky smooth.

Goodhustle Studios is the baby of former Yahoo web developer Gordon Luk. After resigning from Yahoo, Luk spent some time doing freelance work before being inspired to get into gaming after meeting up with an inspiring concept artist. His interest stems from genuine personal love of gaming, and he says on his blog that playing Halo 3 actually led to the meetings that prompted his move to actually becoming a game developer.

Luk’s first game, Skybox, is a 3D, multi-planar version of Tetris, and both it and Beast Boxing 3D have been well-received by critics and reviewers alike. They have yet to crack the top charts at the iPhone store, but they demonstrate a level of care that promises great things to come from Luk and Goodhustle.

Skybox is $0.99, and Beast Boxing 3D is only $2.99 during the ongoing launch sale.

2. Game Dev StoryKairosoft Co.,Ltd.

Game Dev Story was addictive enough to nearly be responsible for genuine relationship problems for me. Luckily, I managed to burn through the 10 year span the game covers in a solid day of playing, without any breaks to avoid lasting damage. But I still want to play more of Kairosoft’s sim. In it, you manage a game development company, choosing the direction and platform of your games. It’s the old efficiency management game, but Kairosoft’s done a good job of making it feel new again.

Kairosoft isn’t new to the game development game. It’s been making games for the Japanese market since 1996, for both PC and cellphones. But Game Dev Story is their first offering for the iPhone, though it’s a port of a game created earlier. Based on Game Dev Story’s success, though, we’ll probably see more from Kairosoft, and we’ll probably have just as hard a time tearing ourselves away.

Game Dev Story is $3.99.

3. Galaxy on Fire 2Fishlabs

Did you enjoy Privateer or Freelancer on the PC, or Escape Velocity on the Mac? Or maybe EVE Online is more your speed? If you liked any of the above, you’ll love Galaxy on Fire 2. It’s a sequel, as the name suggests, and the original Galaxy on Fire is also a great play. Many improvements have been introduced in this latest offering, though, and the story isn’t really tied too strongly to its predecessor, so if you’re only shopping for one, get GOF 2. There are other space trading/combat sims out there for iOS, but this is the best.

Fishlabs was founded in 2004, and works in every mobile platform. It has the most offerings in the App Store of the developers covered here, but it hasn’t achieved the recognition of players like Gameloft and Chillingo. Fishlabs also makes promotional games for companies to use for advertising purposes, which could become a boom industry if integrated properly within iAd efforts, for instance. Founder Michael Schade sees a strong bond in the future between gaming and corporate branding, according to TechCrunch, and Fishlabs is well-positioned to take advantage of that shift away from more traditional advertising.

Galaxy on Fire 2 is $6.99. Waterslide Extreme, one of Fishlabs’ most successful ad games, is free.

These developers aren’t the only ones out there making great games for iOS, but they are the ones taking some unusual and exciting approaches to what has, in many ways, become a boilerplate space. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy offerings from the big studios, even the cookie cutter ones, but these are the kinds of titles that I just can’t put down.

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