Should You Buy An iPad For Gaming?

The iPad is a magical device, at least according to Apple, but is it a device worth buying to play games on? Updated.

This is our best advice - updated regularly - about whether or not you should buy an iPad for gaming, what games to get for it and what to watch out for.

[This post was last updated on October 1, 2010, and will be updated if events, news, games, prices or acts of nature cause our opinion to change.]

Should I buy an iPad for gaming now?

No way, not at this price. The iPad is a wonderful device. It's an amazing electronic book, magazine and newspaper reader. It's fantastic for watching movies on and browsing the web. And it has plenty of great applications and not a few amazing games. But gaming is more of a pleasant side effect of owning an iPad than it is an excuse to buy one.

What Else Does It Do Besides Gaming?

The iPad is a tablet computer, that means it can do a lot of the things a low-powered computer can do, but uses a touchscreen instead of a physical keyboard or mouse.

You can browse the Internet, check your email, use the iPad as a digital photo frame, watch movies, listen to music, read books, magazines and newspapers, take notes and even organise your work with a calendar and contact database.

There are also those thousands of wonderful apps that add amazing functionality to the sleek, sexy device.

If I'm going to take the plunge, should I get an iPad or iPad 3G?

The iPad still doesn't strike us as an on-the-go-device. We mostly use our iPads while home, or perhaps in a location with WiFi. When we do travel with the tablet a little pre-planning and an abundance of Wi-Fi hotspots means we rarely miss the ability to log into the internet with a 3G network. Besides, that 3G plan is pricey.

I already have an iPod Touch, should I "upgrade" to an oversized iPad?

No, not really. While the iPad may look like a bigger iPod Touch, once you get it you'll find that you don't use it in the same ways. The iPhone and iPod Touch are devices you carry around in your pocket or use in your car. The iPad is more like carrying around a book, or a really, really small laptop.

Besides, it's over $600!

What are the best games on the iPad?

Answer updated October 1, 2010.

The iPad doesn't have the same abundance of tailor-made games that the iPhone and iPod Touch have. But there are some great titles. We're particularly fond of the games that are ports of table top gaming. Games like Boggle for iPad, Crosswords and Shredder Chess for iPad are all terrific titles.

And there are some amazing action games as well, like Dungeon Hunter HD, Mirror's Edge for iPad and Warpgate HD. Strategy also seems like a perfect fit for the iPad with titles like We Rule, GodFinger and Strategery topping the list.

Also, don't forget that every iPhone and iPod Touch game will run on the iPad as well. Sure, they won't look as clear, with their graphics doubling in size to fill the screen, but that's not as bad as it sounds for some games.

Which ones are the worst?

The iPad has a pretty limited selection still, in terms of games designed for the device specifically. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some bad eggs. Top of the list are the flood of quick iPhone ports that hit iTunes the day the iPad went on sale. We're also not huge fans of shooters on the iPad, mostly because that super wide screen makes controlling the game a bit too awkward.

So if I buy a system, what are the first three games I should get?

Answer updated October 1, 2010.

1. Angry Birds HD: This puzzle game has you shooting a variety of birds across the sky into the many different fortresses of those stinking pigs, with their beady eyes and tiny, little smirky smiles in hunt for your lost eggs. Easy to understand, hard to not get addicted to, Angry Birds combines the fun of physics-based demolition and sling-shotting, with enragingly snide pigs. That and there's more than 180 levels.

2. Plants Vs. Zombies HD: This larger version of the iPhone game features a few more twists, but the biggest draw is watching the game unfold on a huge screen with liquid fast graphics.

3. USA Today: No, you're not confused. USA Today remains one of the largest newspapers in the US. But this free newspaper app also comes with daily free crossword puzzles and a remarkable slick interface for playing them. And it's free.

What are the big drawbacks of the system, the stuff they don't tell you?

The iPad might be a thin device, but it's not really a small device. You won't be tucking this thing into your pocket. On the go you're going to want a bag or a case and it will feel like you're carrying around a legal pad. Not heavy, but not hands-free either.

Gaming on the system is still lacking for top titles. There are some good ones out there, but developers seem reluctant to take a full dive into the system. Playing active, action games can tire your arms out unless you plan on resting the iPad in your lap or on a desk.

Any hidden costs?

No, not really. Unless you get the 3G-enabled iPad. Then you're talking a $20-$30 a month for a 2GB data plan.

But is there a better version of iPad coming soon? Or a price drop? Maybe I should hold off

Not that we've heard, but given Apple's love of fancy new hardware updates, there's always a good chance that either a price drop or a new model (or both) are just around the corner.

Essential Facts For The iPad

The iPad was released in 2010.

The iPad is a fancy name for Apple's tablet computer. It doesn't have a physical keyboard or mouse, but it does have a pretty slick touchscreen and a virtual keyboard. The device uses a modified version of the operating system found on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

While the device can run programs and play games, it functions best as a media player. It excels at playing music and videos, displaying magazines, books and newspapers.

Both the iPad and the iPad 3G have built in WiFi.

Currently available models: iPad Wi-Fi 16GB ($629)*, iPad Wi-Fi 32GB ($759), iPad Wi-Fi 64GB ($879), iPad 3G 16GB ($799), iPad 3G 32GB ($928), iPad 3G 64GB ($1049). [recommended models marked with an asterisk] Price of new games: Free to $20 Discount line of games: None, though prices are always shifting for games.


    The HDD capacity will always go against these devices. Apple are quite stubborn with the GBs they offer.

      I disagree, I don't find them limiting at all, though I think they are long overdue for a proper microsd slot. But I have a 32 gig iPod and, other than when I pump it really full of video, have never gone over half usage, and I am a heavy game player.

      My wife has an iPad she got, and had to get 64g because it was all that was left, and it's so insanely overkill it's not even silly.

      We have all three of the games listed, on bother her iPad and my iPod, and I would heartily back them all up. All three of them are just as good on the iPod, almost; PvZ has slightly less content, I am given to understand,and certainly less than the PC version. But still very very worth the price.

    - Way too expensive
    - Limited storage, 64GB max ($900)
    - No Flash support
    - No USB connection
    - Not upgradable
    - No camera
    - No phone
    - Too big to carry in public
    - No propper buttons or stick
    - Tilting screen in light causes glare

    There is also a real danger of turning into one of the same sheep who simply buy Apple products because Apple are selling Apple products.

    Yes there is already a new model in the works with camera, and if they have time probably 3D.

    Obey, start saving so you can have that version too.

      The no Flash and no USB are points I can't point out enough. When you think about the amount of sites that use flash, or the amount of devices that use USB this is ridiculous. I've heard a lot of people complain about the inability to move files on and off the device without any USB for a usb-stick or hard drive, or even an ethernet port.

      And let's not forget that the top 2 games of the top 3 are Scrabble, cause yeah, I bought an electronic device to play that, and Plants vs Zombies which most of us would already have on PC or phone anyway.

      I'm kind of disappointed in Kotaku that some of the points Robert pointed out were left out, especially the ones I mentioned as well. They are glaring omissions from the product and something every consumer should know before buying it.

      My biggest gripe so far is that it requires iTunes syncing for EVERYTHING. While this isn't so bad for updating music library, you need to sync your Word documents via iTunes? And therein likes the problem with the iPad it is NOT a laptop replacement, it isn't even a Netbook replacement. It requires a normal computer to actually function.

      So no. I've splurged for a lot of stupid, expensive crap over the years. But plonking down $800 for an oversized iPod touch is too much. The iPad is obviously aimed at people with more money than sense. Whose irrational rabid desire for 'magical' products overrides their basic consumer sense.

    I watched a movie called the first $20 millions is always hard at one point one guy insults the other with i hear your mum uses Macintosh btw its more or less about a bunch of nerds

    I'm a bit shocked 64GB is the largest model. I understand the choice of solid memory but 128GB isn't a big step up from 64GB (and even then I'd still consider it tiny). I just can't imagine who would want this badly enough to spend $900 but have so little use for it that 64GB was enough to get the job done.

    I love my iphone and when my first one (3G) died I promptly got a 4 to replace it however

    1. 64 gig??? I have over 60 gig of music I like to carry alone not including TV shows, apps, movies, documents, work stuff etc. Whoever thinks 64 gig is heaps must still be using floppy disks in thier PCs'.

    2. Of the first 3 games to get listed here angry birds is sooooooo overhyped its just another knock down the tower flash type game like millions before it. And as for the crosswords?? WTF? Really? REALLY REALLY???

    3. I just bought a new lap top thats only slightly less convienient to transport than an ipad that has an I7 2.6 gig. 6 gig ddr3 ram, 640 gig hard drive, 1gig dedicated graphics, USB!!, hdmi out actuall keyboard and much much more. Price $999 AUD

    How can the Ipad even be an option at its current configuration/price.

    As I said love my iphone but this is just an excuse to use fanboyism to sell overpriced under accessable tech!

    I didn't read the article, but the answer to your question is 'Only if you are a douche.'

    I didn't read the article like many others because iNo the answer.

    Best used for videoPodCasts, photoAlbum, Evernote and youTube if you're on wifi...

    My original plan was to use it as a portable portfolio for my photos and videos, and it works a treat... but games? Hell no.

    If you want to drop that much money get a ps3, need something portable for games? NinjatendoDS.

    bring out starcraft 2...

    decent strategy, RPG, ect type games... I swear it MUST be possible to bring out DECENT games that work WELL with touch screen controls, without resorting to shitty casual shit! now sure, on the iphone, the screen is so small you're really fighting a loosing battle trying to come up with anything serious. but I think with the big screen... it must be possible to get some nice AAA action going on these things, at least in some genres.

    at the moment I don't know of a single game where I go "oh wow, I really want to play that! but I'd rather play the ipad version than the PC or 360 one".

    call me when that happens.

    People that answer this question with yes..just..i can't even describe it..

    $600 for the cheapest one which has could make a pretty decent desktop for that much, you could buy an ALRIGHT laptop..which would at least have flash. Hell you could get a mp3/movie player from another brand with much more storage. iPad is a glorified eReader, tablet whatever you want to call it. Basically its just another way for Apple Fanboys to iWank into each others faces..

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