There are over 500,000 apps in Apple’s App Store, which have been downloaded more than a billion times. Many of these apps are games, and the popularity of the iPad as a gaming device has attracted many independent developers and game studios alike.
If you regularly play console or computer games, you might not think that the iPad is able to compete as a serious gaming device, but with the right accessories, the right settings, and the right apps, you might just find yourself retiring that Xbox and trading in that computer for a shiny new iPad.
There are quite a few great gaming accessories out there, from cases and protectors to controllers and joysticks.
The first thing you’ll need is an ergonomic case that’s easy to hold. While you can use a naked iPad, it can be hard to grip, so I prefer a case. As an avid iPad gamer, I’ve experimented with quite a few options, and I prefer Apple’s plain old Smart Cover, along with an Incipio Feather for the back. This is a light weight, easy-to-hold combination and removing the Smart Cover when playing an intensive game is simple and quick.
Of course, there are also a few cases that have been created with dedicated iPad gamers in mind. For example, the Incipio iPad 1337 Silicone Gaming Case comes equipped with four ergonomically designed handgrips that are perfect for racing games and other games that require tilt motion or touch controls. This case probably wouldn’t work well for platform gaming or shooters, but if you’re a regular racing game player, it’s a great option. At just $17.99, it’s very affordable.
Arcade gamers have likely seen Thinkgeek’s iCade iPad Arcade Cabinet, which is the perfect choice for playing old school games. It is, however, heavy and not particularly portable, but there’s a second generation iCade Core Arcade Game Controller which is a more compact version with the same great joystick and arcade-style buttons. With the iCade Core ($99), you can relive your childhood and play all of the games that you used to love like PAC-MAN, Asteroids, and Centipede, with the original buttons. Your console can’t do that, can it? For a cheaper option, try the Fling Joystick for iPad, which is a stick on joystick that costs just $19.99.
Don’t discount the importance of audio in your games. Sometimes a great soundtrack and the perfect sound effects are what make a game, and there are quite a few serious games in the App Store that recommend headphones for the best playing experience. For example, Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery just wouldn’t be the same without a great set. If you need a good pair of headphones, check out our Headphones Round Up post for some suggestions.
The Apple TV ($99) is another must have accessory if you want to get serious about gaming. It’s the key piece of hardware for utilizing AirPlay, which allows you to play games on the bigger screen of your television. While most games are just projected onto the TV, there are a few, like simulation game Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy that transfer the gameplay to the TV, turning the iPad into a controller.
With these accessories, you can turn your iPad into more than just a device that plays casual games like Angry Birds. Of course, until there’s a serious controller from Apple or a third party manufacturer, the iPad will lag behind its console counterparts, but rumor has it that Apple is working on developing a controller that can be used with its iDevices.
There aren’t too many settings that will improve your gameplay, but I always recommend turning your brightness up. I play games like Infinity Blade on max brightness to see more of the graphics. I do the same thing with hidden object games, where it can be difficult to see intricate details.
If you are playing a game that doesn’t need a WiFi connection, it could be beneficial to put your iPad into airplane mode in order to conserve battery life.
If you have an older iPad, there are a lot of system intensive games on the market now. You will want to double tap on your home button to bring up the bottom dock, where you can quit all the apps that are running in the background, freeing up valuable memory. Additionally, with older iPads, it’s sometimes beneficial to install an app and then restart your iPad entirely before playing it.
In addition to accessories and settings, the most important aspect of iPad gaming is the games themselves. There are hundreds of amazing apps in the App Store, and reading PadGadget and checking the PadGadget App Tracker is a good way to keep tabs on what’s hot. If you’re wondering where to start, give Infinity Blade and Infinity Blade II a try if you haven’t already – they’re the quintessential console style action RPGs in the App Store.
If racing is more your style, you’ll want to give Real Racing 2, and Cro-Mag Rally a try, because these gorgeous racing games are AirPlay enabled. As I mentioned earlier, Sky Gamblers is also a lot of fun on the big screen.
First person shooter fans will want to check out Modern Combat 3 – Fallen Nation, from Gameloft,which is one of the best multiplayer FPS’s available in the App Store.
If you’re a gamer that hasn’t given the iPad serious thought, I hope some of the information in this article has piqued your interest. The iPad is well on its way to becoming a serious gaming device, and in a lot of ways, it can already replace a lot of your favorite console games. It won’t be long before major game developers like Bethesda and Bioware, among others, jump on the iOS bandwagon, so you’ll want to be prepared.
Do you have any other tips, tricks, or iPad accessories that you use while gaming? As a fellow gamer, I’d love to hear about them. Have any gaming questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.