I got a 12.9 inch 2018 iPad Pro last summer as a college graduation present. I have never loved a computer as much as I love my iPad, and that is because using it feels new. The multitasking and windowing systems; the automation possibilities allowed by the system-and-app-level Shortcuts; the increasingly mature app ecosystem; using the iPad Pro as my main computer feels like using a crazy and new way of computing. It’s janky and wild and rough and crazy and I love it.
Something I don’t love: it’s an astonishingly powerful computer yet very few video games truly take advantage of it. The Nintendo Switch, admittedly a more popular and focused device, has seen ports for games like Doom, LA Noire, Wolfenstein, Skyrim, and even The Witcher 3. The iPad Pro, despite being significantly more powerful, has seen basically nothing by way of major console ports.
I understand the business rationale; there’s likely a much larger install base of prospective gamers on the Switch. But someone has to try! Red Dead Redemption 2 runs on an Xbox One, which is demonstrably less powerful than my iPad. Port it to iOS, make it iPad Pro and iPhone 11 exclusive, and charge $60! Try it out! Be crazy! Rockstar has ported previous games to the iPad to reasonable success, why not try something much bigger? Why isn’t Apple paying them whatever Google paid for the Stadia port?
We are seeing some encouraging signs among indie developers. Dead Cells’ iOS release has been met with critical acclaim and solid sales. It’s an absolute dream to play on the iPad. Same with games like Stardew Valley, Hyperlight Drifter, and Thumper.
There’s obvious proof that the iPad Pro can handle bigger games, too. Take 2 Interactive’s massive strategy game Civilization 6 has made the transition to iPad. Journey, one of the most celebrated games of the last generation, is beautiful on my giant iPad’s giant screen.
The closest thing we’ve gotten to a massive AAA game on iPad may be Sky, a beautiful and contemplative adventure from the creators of Journey. Sky is free, supported by microtransactions like player emotes, but the level of detail in the game is astounding. It looks as gorgeous as anything I’ve played on my Xbox, and it runs flawlessly on my iPad.
Developers and publishers are missing an opportunity by not taking more advantage of the power of the iPad Pro. Someone needs to take the first real shot at bringing console games to Apple’s super powered tablet. And if they are too skittish to make that leap, Apple should pay them to jump.