Apple stops using iPod, icon for mobile gaming after 22 years

A row of iPod Minis slowly bleed into the bottom of the frame in a 2009 ad.

PhotoJustin SullivanGetty Images

Pour one out for every kid who strapped on a backpack in high school, as they’re likely to be in mourning today. With Apple’s discontinuation of the 7th generation iPod Touch, announced yesterdayit’s official: the iPod is dead.

Ostensibly, the iPod was a music device, intended to digitize song libraries and take listeners away from the limitations and galactically better sound quality of physical media. (Whether such a shift was good for the music industry is another story, of course.) But in its many iterations, the iPod also ushered in another revolution: that of mobile gaming.

Mobile gaming once consisted of playing Stone or snake on your parents’ dusty Nokia. And certainly, after its launch in 2001, the iPod, which is literally a sloppy harbor of Stone after the launch of the device in 2001 – had a similar landscape for a while. Over the next few years, the supply grew, but not by much. 2006, EA Released iPod Versions of beaten classics like sudoku and solitary† Kaplan, the for-profit educational giant, has a range of SAT preparation courses (to which I can only say: lol). Compared to other mobile gaming devices of the time, such as the Nintendo DS for example, the iPod was hardly revolutionary.

Then came the iPod Touch.

First released in 2007, the iPod Touch completely reinvented the iPod’s design. Instead of a brick with a wobbly steered track wheel, the iPod Touch looked a lot like its contemporary, the iPhone: sleek, rectangular, attached with a glass touch screen that covered the entire silhouette. Unlike the iPhone, you couldn’t use an iPod Touch to call and immediately lose the courage to call your loved one from algebra. But if you had a wifi connection, you could download a lot of games that would at least distract you during algebra.

And some games from that era were really excellent. Fruit NinjaTap Tap RevengeWords with friendsTemple Run practically created, or at least widely popularized, a new genre, laying the groundwork for truly awesome endless runners like Alto’s Odyssey† Personally I had a weakness for Doodle Jump, a platform game in which you are cast as an elephant (?) with a jetpack. Stylized to look like a lined paper notebook, the images are inked into memory. But for me at least it was also an early introduction to the wider world of leaderboards.

Some games, quality aside, became legitimate cultural giants. evil birds spawned a feature film along with crossovers with Star Wars and Transformers, and a gazillion other spin-offs. (My grandmother once bought a evil birds bath mat, assuming that since I like video games, should Like it evil birdsthe only video game.) The impact was undeniable.

Raise your hand if these ads have left an indelible impression on you too.

And so the news of the iPod’s death sparked a fiery wave of nostalgia in KotakuSlack this afternoon.

Staff editor Lisa Marie Segarra called out virtually all of the games mentioned above, further pointing to the iPod as a catalyst for the indisputable Candy Crush rage. She also praised the tilt controls that came with some games, which were “so innovative back then. Or at least that’s how it felt.”

“What a time to be alive,” added staff writer Zack Zwiezen. “I really miss the older era of the App Store. … No doubt we have great things today, but I can’t help but long for those simpler times when I was drinking fake beer and playing with fake lightsaber apps.”

The times are indeed less simple. Rather than the handful of must-have options, Apple’s gaming ecosystem is bigger than ever, just like big games — everything from blockbusters like XCOM and Genshin impact to indie sleeper hits like Sayonara Wild Hearts and Baba is you— find their way to the App Store. Apple Arcade, a subscription service that gives access to a library of games, is slowly becoming an essential exploration spot for under-the-radar gems. (Many Apple Arcade games eventually make their way to Nintendo Switch or traditional consoles, where they become “legitimized” in the eyes of the hardcore player, something that obscures the origins of mobile games.)

But every time one of these once-essential devices takes its last breath, I find myself struck by its finality – how everything, regardless of apparent staying power or cultural impact, is ephemeral, a fleeting moment you don’t realize is it was fleeting until it’s gone. As they say, wouldn’t it be nice to recognize that you’re living in good times when you’re actually living in good times? I think so.

Anyway, yes, RIP to the iPod. You had a nice walk. You left a good legacy. And to really get all the mid-2000s: Thank you fr th Mmrs

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