Apple’s next iPad Mini could make the 3DS and Vita look like toys

ipad mini 2 ultimate gaming machine ps vita nintendo 3ds

Swipe, swipe, tap. Tap, swipe, tap, tap. Fumble! D-oh!! And now you’ve got a busted iPad. Thanks Infinity Blade III! Thanks stupid hands!

The audience that games like Infinity Blade III go after has to make concessions. The iPad and iPhone both are expensive multi-purpose devices, with a big up-front cost for the former and a long-term contractual investment for the latter. Neither is an ideal platform for gaming. It’s like Goldilocks’ Three Little Bears. This one’s too big. This one’s too small. The iPad Mini though? That one’s just right. It’s lightweight, the screen is small enough that your fingers can comfortably reach across it, but it’s not so small that you lose all the details of a lush graphical presentation. All that’s missing is the internal horsepower to keep up with the other two. The iPad Mini shouldn’t be looked at as a budget tablet; it’s hardware for a different audience.

And who is that audience? They’re the players who propelled Grand Theft Auto V to more than $1 billion in sales in its first week of release and the ones who will line up at midnight next month to ride the latest Call of Duty roller-coaster. They’re excited to play top-shelf mobile ports like XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but they’ve always been confined to hardware that doesn’t fit the bill. They’re the so-called “hardcore” gamers, and the second-gen iPad Mini could be exactly what they’ve been waiting for.

This one’s too big. This one’s too small. The iPad Mini though? That one’s just right.

An A7-powered iPad Mini with Retina Display is Apple’s latest chance to make a bigger impact in the gaming space. There are a lot of good reasons to bring the iPad Mini’s specs in line with the iPhone 5S and upcoming iPad 5, but appealing more directly to the video gamers should rank near the top. Angry Birds and Candy Crush do a great job of giving Apple customers additional reasons to use their device, but for gamers, the first concern is always: What can I play? 

I talk to a lot of people who make video games in my capacity here as an editor for Digital Trends’ Gaming section. And there’s been a common theme in all of the conversations I’ve had with devs over the past six or so months: they’re all excited by the promise of a second-gen iPad Mini. Every one of them sees Apple’s next micro-tablet as the company’s first true gaming machine. It’s the right size, the right heft, and – assuming the rumors are true – it may soon have the right hardware to deliver games that are fundamentally different than what you can find on the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita.

Apple A7 ChipInfinity Blade III is a prime example. Chair Entertainment’s latest Unreal Engine-powered beat ’em up is an entirely touch-based fighting game that employs a unique swipe-and-tap control scheme. It’s got enough depth to chew through double-digit hours of your life and it takes a refreshingly original approach to play mechanics. The 3DS and Vita both support touchscreen games (moreso the latter), but the Infinity Blade games are built specifically for the sort of interface that isn’t crowded with buttons and joysticks. It’s also gorgeous; even on the small iPhone 5S screen, IB3 is the best-looking game on iOS, thanks to the 64-bit processing power of Apple’s A7 CPU. Just imagine that same setup on an iPad Mini’s larger screen.

Developers are excited to create content for a newly gaming-friendly Apple platform. Not just the Rovios of the world, but also the big, AAA blockbuster-producing teams. A game like Call of Duty: Strike Team is a great first step; it’s built on the ideas and basic style of the top-selling shooter franchise, but it uses a distinctly touchscreen friendly control scheme and approach to gameplay. A more gamer-friendly Apple tablet could bring new levels of success for a title like Strike Team, which would in turn spur even more platform-specific development efforts. Stuff like Lego Star Wars, which may or may not be ported to mobile platforms by spring/summer 2014.

With the new iPad Mini, Apple has a real opportunity to bring in a crowd that traditionally sees gaming split between three primary colors: Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. In an already-crowded year in which expensive new console hardware is set to arrive, an A7 Mini with Retina threatens to be a literal game-changer.

Product Review

If the Surface Studio 2 can't win over Mac fans, nothing can

Most creative professionals are staunchly planted in the Apple camp, but with the Surface Studio 2, Microsoft is making a serious attempt to win them over. Despite its niche appeal, you’ll wish you had a few grand to drop on this beauty.

Turn your iPad into a display for your new Mac Mini with this workaround

The folks at Luna Display have figured out a workaround which lets you get the best of both worlds and use Wi-Fi and an adapter in order to turn your iPad into a display for the 2018 Mac Mini.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

‘Gears of War’ designer Cliff Bleszinski says he’ll never make another game

Cliff Bleszinski, the game designer best known for his work on the Gears of War series, says he will never make another video game. His studio, Boss Key Productions, shut its doors earlier this year.

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.

Nintendo and Microsoft say they’re all-in on E3 after Sony bows out of 2019 event

Shortly after Sony announced it will not participate in E3 2019 for the first time, Microsoft and Sony announced the show will go on as usual for each software giant. E3 2019 now presents a unique opportunity for Sony's major competitors.

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.