Apple hypes games for new iPod touch

Makes bold claims about thinner device.

Apple boss Steve Jobs announced that the iPod touch is "the best portable device for playing games" during the Mac and iPod giant's San Francisco "Let's Rock" event yesterday (thanks Engadget), which also saw the unveiling of a new-generation of the touch-screen, tilt-sensitive handheld.

The new touch is slimmer, with a contoured reverse, a built-in speaker and physical volume controls along the left side, wireless support for Nike+, and promises of a longer battery life - around 36 hours for music and six hours for video. It also works with the newly-launched iTunes 8's "Genius" facility for generating playlists (and shopping lists) based on any song you select.

It might not be long before Genius can start applying that logic to games, given that Jobs also announced that the iTunes App Store sold 100 million items in its first 60 days, and as the iPod touch section of his speech tapered off the stage was given over to marketing chap Phil Schiller (can you really work in marketing and be called Schiller?), who demonstrated Spore Origins (which launched this week and, like the DS game Spore Creatures, focuses on one area - the Cell phase), before moving on to Gameloft's Real Soccer 2009 (released yesterday), and playing a bit of Need for Speed Undercover.

But although Jobs reports there are "about 700 games on the App Store, [and] some of them are getting pretty fantastic", iPod touch still commands a hefty asking price if you compare it to its fellow gaming devices. The new model, which in time-honoured Apple tradition is on sale immediately with a 1-3 days' shipping delay, costs GBP 169 for an 8GB model, GBP 219 for 16GB, and GBP 289 for 32GB. Sony's new PSP-3000, announced at Games Convention, will cost GBP 149.99 when it goes on sale in mid-October, while the Nintendo DS Lite costs around GBP 99.

In other words, nice gadget, but probably still an "and it plays games" device rather than a proper competitor in the gaming handheld space. As Apple ramps up its marketing and App Store royalties start to inspire more elaborate (and preferably playable) games, however, that could very well change. Check out our recent article on iPhone/iPod touch Gaming for more, and check out Engadget's live blog of the Let's Rock event to see what else Apple announced.

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