Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile’s iPhone-exclusive graphical options signify a console approach to the mobile gaming market

Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)
Pips and Pixels

Pips and Pixels Boxout

(Image credit: Future)

Pips and Pixels is a new column from James Bentley, iMore's resident gaming expert, discussing all things gaming in the Apple ecosystem. Pips and Pixels explores the latest news, accessories, and titles you might have missed out on, and brings you commentary from the leading developers in the app market. As recent advancements in the Apple Silicon M processors and the brand new A17 Bionic chip show, Apple is becoming more serious about gaming. James looks to the rest of the games industry to see what could be next for Apple gamers.

After years of waiting, Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile is finally on its way to iPhone. It looks to be an impressive port, and it’s only made even more interesting with unique graphical modes — exclusive to the latest iPhone models — and the return of a fan-favorite map. 

As I’ll discuss below in this week’s column, it’s also quite intriguing to me that Apple devices seem to be the definitive way to play the game, with the approach reminiscent of Call of Duty publisher Activision Blizzard’s approach to console ports. 

That’s not the only big thing happening for iOS gamers this week. We’ve exclusively received confirmation that Balatro, the breakout poker roguelite hit, will be getting an iPhone port, as revealed in our chat with developer LocalThunk — a worrying development for my productivity. However, this isn’t my favorite section of our interview, with LocalThunk telling us the funny story behind the game’s Mac port. 

Finally, if you prefer to do your gaming on a PlayStation, What the Golf? has just landed on Sony’s consoles— after starting life as one of the best Apple Arcade games to launch with an exclusivity window for Apple’s service. 

Read on for the rundown.

This week's Apple gaming news

1. Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile finally arrives this week, with exclusive graphics options for newer iPhones and the return of a fan-favorite map

Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile finally launches on March 21st. iPhone 15 Pro and M1 and M2 iPad users will get a special “Peak Graphics Mode” option. This emphasizes not only a desire to get as many iPhone users into Call of Duty games as possible but also that those who pay for the most expensive mobile tech will get a better version of the game. Like last year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which launched on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X, the games are designed to work on new and old hardware. This allows for a broader range of players but also incentivizes getting the newer devices. 

It’s all starting to remind me of the “console wars”. This port introduces a mobile divide, making Apple’s handsets currently the best play to play Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile. Way back in 2010, Activision (now called Activision Blizzard) announced the next few years of Call of Duty DLC would be coming to Xbox first with others to follow. From Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 onward, this deal shifted gears and PlayStation started getting DLCs first. 

Likewise, these iPhone-focused settings mean there won’t be parity between Android and iOS versions of the game, despite the game coming to both Google and Apple’s platforms at the same time. It will be great to play Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile on the best iPhone, but there’s no reason to think that the priority to get the best graphical mode couldn’t change to Android in time — or even realistically be offered up to high-end Android devices today. The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro, with its beefy Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, has a similar amount of power to the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Pro chip, so it doesn’t seem impossible that Android could get a little more love in the future. However, it doesn’t help that Android phones come in so many varied configurations, and with so many Android manufacturers out there, greenlighting high-end ports on Apple iPhones may be a simpler goal to achieve for time-strapped developers. 

2. Exclusive: Balatro is coming to iPhone — smash hit solitaire roguelite getting a mobile port following Mac edition, as dev says there are ‘a litany of good reasons not to make a game for Mac'

I recently had the chance to speak to Balatro developer LocalThunk, who revealed the poker-like game would be coming to iPhone in the future. He told me that many developers don’t bother with a Mac port because it requires testing against two different types of Mac (Intel-based and Silicon-based), which increases development costs and can double the amount of quality assurance work. 

However, perhaps my favorite thing he told me is why he made the Mac port in the first place. “I kid you not, 99% of the reason I tried creating a Mac port at all was for my friend Jeremy. He is a Mac user and one of the people I liked sharing this hobby with, so I wanted to make a version he could play on his preferred platform. I was so excited to text him the day that version finally went live!”

3. The best Apple Arcade exclusive is now available on PS4 and PS5

What The Golf? is a silly, charming, and creative golfing game from developer Triband. It takes the basic principles of golf (hitting a ball into a hole) and flips it on its head by constantly changing the rules. Where one map might have you swing your own person at a hole, another has you land an entire house in a nice neighborhood. Not your standard 18-hole affair, then. It’s a golf game that is perfect for both fans and haters of golf. 

It is finally coming to PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch version of the game is getting a free update to celebrate. Apple fans can smugly fire up the game as part of their Apple Arcade subscription — and have been able to since Apple Arcade’s launch in September 2019.

Gaming news from our friends

In a genuinely massive change, Stardew Valley is getting a whole new farm type that comes with 2 chickens and "chewy blue grass that animals love" — GamesRadar

Already one of the best iPhone games, Stardew Valley is getting a brand new update that lets players pick a new farm type with “chewy blue grass” and a coop with two chickens. It will also allow players to drink mayonnaise, if they’ve ever wanted to do that in a game before. 

Stardew Valley is currently on Version on iPhone which is up-to-date with the console versions of the game. This means Stardew Valley players on Apple can expect this update soon, too. 

Steam upgrades its family plan, allowing your kids to ping you to pay for their shopping cart and get you banned by cheating on a shared account — GamesRadar

If you happen to enjoy Balatro, Baldur’s Gate 3, or any of the other best Mac games you may have bought via Valve’s Steam store, you can now more easily share them with your family, as long as you don’t let them cheat. Cheating in an online game with a game you borrow through Steam’s Family Sharing system will not only ban the offending player but also the account that owns the game. 

If you are going to share your Steam game library with someone, make sure you trust them to play by the rules. 

Calendar: March's Big Game Releases

  • Balatro is an excellent roguelite that is, whilst reminiscent of games like Slay the Spire, wholly unique.  It's a card game all about running through hands of poker to get enough chips to get to to the next round. However, Jokers apply effects to your hands that multiply chips, make certain hands easier to make, and more. It's simple to understand, only to get so much more complicated as you get on. 
  • Dragon's Dogma 2 finally launches this week and, while Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen doesn't run natively on Mac, it works perfectly fine with Parallels and is currently 84% off on Steam. Dark Arisen is worth checking out while you wait for Dragon's Dogma 2 testing. 
  • Alone in the Dark launches this week too. It doesn't have a Mac port but our friends at GamesRadar gave it 1.5 stars so it might be worth skipping until it is on sale. 
  • Hades, the hit roguelite game of the year winner from 2020, is now on Netflix's games service. With excellent art, a gripping gameplay loop, and fantastic characters, this game lets you escape the underworld in style. 
Swipe to scroll horizontally
GameRelease DatePlatformsPlayable on Apple?
FoamstarsMarch 5PS5No
ReveilMarch 7PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5, macOSYes
Snufkin: Melody of MoominvalleyMarch 7PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5, macOSYes
Unicorn OverlordMarch 8Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, XboxNo
WWE 2K24March 8PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5Not natively
MLB: The Show 24March 19Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5, macOSNo
Alone in the DarkMarch 20PC, Xbox, PlayStation 5Not natively
Dragon's Dogma 2March 22PC, Xbox, PlayStation 5Not natively
Rise of the RoninMarch 22PCNo
South Park - Snow DayMarch 26PC, Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5Not natively

Level Up — Gaming accessories on our radar

If you have smaller hands and want a good and cheap alternative to the BackBone One to play your iPhone games with, the new GameSir X2s is a very solid choice. It looks pretty and connects intuitively. 

GameSir X2s |$45.99 at Amazon

GameSir X2s | <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"">$45.99 at Amazon

GameSir’s X2s controller combines a lovely grey and purple color scheme and has a great USB-C connector that can move up and down to more easily connect to iPhones. The buttons are a little small if you have bigger hands, but the size of the frame is great, it has Hall Effect sticks to do away with the dreaded stick-drift, and a built-in screenshot button that allows for quickly sharing clips with friends. 

Hitting the Arcade — What to play on Apple Arcade

Pips and Pixels Hitting the Arcade

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Arcade is filled with tons of exclusive experiences and fantastic games. However, with so many out there, it can be hard to decide what to play. Here are a few choices I've been testing out this week:

I’ve been trying out Tamagotchi Adventure Kingdom, which is a super charming life sim reminiscent of Animal Crossing. When a meteor comes crashing into your little world, you have to heal geysers formed around the map from the crashing meteor with hearts, which are earned by doing quests for the many little villagers. It never quite builds to the complexity of most life sim games but it’s a great way to spend an hour before bed. 

Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat is just as cute as Tamagotchi but gets a lot more hectic. A drumming rhythm game with a super catchy soundtrack, it’s a game worth popping in a pair of AirPods and jamming along to. 

Have you played any great games this week or seen some interesting Apple gaming news we've missed? Let us know in the comments!

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.