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Apple looks to hire AAA game developer for in-house iPhone team

Apple is looking to hire a game and media software engineer for its iPhone and iPod touch team, perhaps signaling that the company intends to expand its first-party software offerings.

The listing posted this week is noteworthy because Apple has only released four applications on its iPhone App Store since it first launched, and only one of them — Texas Hold'em — is a game. The $4.99 virtual card game was released in 2008.

The advertisement seeks a full-time employee to work at the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Apple is looking for a "passionate gamer" with 3 to 4 years of video game development experience. The person would help design and implement "interactive multimedia experiences" on the iPhone and iPod touch. Only candidates who have shipped "at least one AAA title" are asked to apply.

"The position also requires a creative thinker who can contribute and comment on the design process as well as being flexible enough to aid in all aspects of production such as asset management and able to work to a deadline," the listing reads.

Since the debut of the App Store, games have become a popular component of the experience on the iPhone and iPod touch. Big game publishers like Electronic Arts, id Software and Konami have been flocking to the platform, bringing their own established franchises with them like Madden football and The Sims.

Nintendo, a pioneer of the handheld video game industry, has acknowledged that it must differentiate dedicated gaming devices like the Nintendo DS from all-purpose handhelds like the iPhone if they wish to survive. Games on the App Store tend to run under $10, while most games for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP cost between $25 and $40.

When it debuted the new 64GB iPod touch with a faster processor in September, Apple again portrayed the hardware as a fun device meant for media and games. The company highlighted a number of high-profile releases including Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed 2 and Gameloft's Nova.

But John Carmack, creator of the classic PC game Doom, recently said he believes that Apple is uncomfortable with the growing popularity of games on the iPhone and iPod touch. He said he believes Apple executives would prefer the hardware to be taken more seriously.

"At the highest level of Apple, in their heart of hearts," Carmack said, "they're not proud of the iPhone being a game machine, they wish it was something else."

But the new job listing from Apple would seem to contradict Carmack's assumption, as Apple appears to be interested in creating more interactive content in-house for the iPhone and iPod touch.