Developer Epic Games, the maker of the awesome Infinity Blade series, an elegiac masterpiece that really showcases what iOS gadgets are capable of, may be in possession of one of the very few production units of Apple’s highly anticipated handset, the iPhone 5.
A reader pointed us to a page on Epic’s website which makes a brief mention of the device. It could be nothing, but it could be everything as well.
If Apple’s elite developers are testing their warez against a sixth-generation iPhone, than the official unveiling couldn’t be more than a few short weeks away, as previously rumored…
A notice (hat tip to omri!) on the Epic Games’ page containing tips from the Infinity Blade development team says that last content update to Infinity Blade has been tested against iOS 5 and iPhone 5. Clicking the banner simply opens up an iTunes Preview of Infinity Blade.
This could be a typo, mind you.
Also, it’s likely an old thing as the graphics links to the original Infinity Blade game rather than the sequel, Infinity Blade II. Furthermore, the banner promises a sneak peek of Infinity Blade II (released last November) and Infinity Blade: Awakening, an iBook by Brandon Sanderson (released on October 4, 2011, the same day the iPhone 4S got introduced).
If this is an oldie, Epic Games would be wise to update their website more often.
Another thing to consider: Epic Games is one of the very few developers who get to show off their warez at Apple’s announcement related to new iPhones and iPads. Its Infinity Blade series classes as what you’d call a system seller and is exclusive to the iOS platform (no, it doesn’t exist on Android).
Henceforth, it isn’t impossible to imagine Epic Games being among the inner circle of select few developers who enjoy preferential treatment from Apple. For example, Epic got to demo Infinity Blade Dungeons (it’s totally eye-candy) at Apple’s iPad unveiling earlier this year. The game is landing this fall and is said to tap the latest chips inside current-generation iPhone and iPad devices.
A Businessweek article published on March 19, 2010, a month before the iPad hit store shelves, explained Apple had allowed a cherry-picked group of triple-A developers to test their software on then unreleased iPads.
As always, Apple went to extraordinary measures to secure its devices:
Would-be testers of the tablet-style computer, due to be released Apr. 3, must promise to keep it isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, according to four people familiar with the more than 10-page pact that bars partners from disclosing information about the iPad.
Those units were immobile and kept under a lock.
To ensure that it can’t be removed, the iPad must also remain tethered to a fixed object, said the people, who asked not to be named because their plans for the iPad have not been made public. Apple won’t send out an iPad until potential partners send photographic evidence that they’ve complied.
News Corp.’s The Wall Street Journal also had the privilege of using secured iPads ahead of the official release (say ‘hello’ to access journalism). According to the outspoken media magnate Rupert Murdoch, from a March 2010 Wall Street Journal piece:
Mr. Murdoch said the Journal planned to be on Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer. “In fact, we’ve been allowed to work on one, and it’s under padlock and key. The key is turned by Apple every night,” he said in response to a question. “But we will be on that with The Wall Street Journal.”
As a rule of thumb, this elite group of developers got to use locked iPads only after Apple had introduced the device two months earlier.
Following the aforementioned logic, Apple should provide a select group of developers with a chance to have an early crack at the next iPhone, but only after the company formally announces the device come September 12.
This would leave developers with only nine days to test their apps and games against the iPhone 5, between the September 12 announcement and the rumored September 21 availability.
And with incredibly complex and demanding games such as the Infinity Blade series, nine days is barely enough to discover bugs, let alone fix them. That said, it would make sense to allow developers access to test hardware at least a couple weeks ahead of general availability.
So, perhaps Apple treated Epic Games and other elite developers to a few pre-production units of the next iPhone after all?