If you think iPad gaming is a big deal right now, we may be only seeing the tip of the iceburg. On Friday at a PAX East panel, Firaxis Games announced that their popular alien invasion strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown would be coming to the iPad.
But this isn't your normal "AAA" title being released as a "lite" version for the iPad. This is a full port of XCOM: Enemy Uknown where the biggest change will be redesigning the interface to work with the iPad's touchscreen, and the only other limitation will be the slightly fewer maps than the original release. The iPad has become a popular landing place for classic games like Doom, Final Fantasy, and SimCity, but this may be the first time that a feature-complete version of a big budget title was ported to the iPad within a year of its release.
Is this the start of a new trend? Not every game makes an easy port to the iPad. First person shooters tend to work better with a keyboard/mouse setup or a console game controller, and while turn-based strategy games are perfect for the touch interface, real-time strategy games tend to have some problems. I'd personally love to see a major MMORPG like World of Warcraft make the jump, but the sheer number of abilities featured in these games would certainly cause some problems.
The new generation of consoles are certainly jumping on the tablet bandwagon, with the Nintendo Wii U integrating a tablet into their controller, the PS4 supporting tablets as a second screen for games along with the ability to stream the game directly to the tablet, and the next XBOX is expected to expand on the XBOX 360's SmartGlass.
And as the iPad gets more powerful, I think we'll see more "AAA" titles coming to the iPad soon after their release on the major platforms. The iPad can be connected to an HDTV, and even has the ability to display one thing on the TV and something else on the tablet, giving it the same dual-screen functionality featured in those consoles. Add a BlueTooth controller, and even Call of Duty: Black Ops II could play smoothly on the iPad.