The first official iOS game controller has finally been released. Earlier this year Apple announced plans to develop a standardised game controller to be used across their iOS platforms. The concept behind the controller is to provide Apple iPhone gamers a more controlled experience. The current modus operandi is “swipe,” “tap” and “tilt”; games are played using touch and the iPhone’s tilt system. Apple’s new controller will allow users to engage in a more console-style play. The iPhone game controller wraps around the iPhone and the iPhone is held landscape so that users can wrap both hands around the controller. Users can press buttons and use a directional pad.
Given the popularity of iPhone games it is easy to see why developing a controller was appealing. Apple currently has wealth of games available through it’s app store and generating millions of dollars of revenue each year. The controller is a way of harnessing the market that they already have a hold on and expanding into the lucrative console market.
Apple released two controllers; the Logitech PowerShell and the Moga Ace Power. The Logitech PowerShell is a basic console with four face buttons and a directional pad; The Moga Ace Power is more complex and also includes twin analog sticks and twin triggers. Only the Logitech PowerShell is available for purchase in the Australian Apple Store for the price of $129.95; in the US store both controllers can be purchased for $99.99.
Will the controller be as popular as other portable consoles like the Nintendo DS? At this stage it appears Logitech and Moga are yet to make a big impression on the iPhone community or the gaming community. Although the controller would effectively mean having one device that acts as your mobile phone, iPod and game console, the demand for the controller is not high.
Firstly, the controller itself is lacking in quality. According to tech site The Verge, both devices “don’t feel like $100 game controllers…the device feels too much like a toy.” Gamers are more likely to invest money in more sophisticated and carefully developed technology, rather than buying a plastic-feeling add-on for their phone.
Secondly, the software for the iPhone controllers is simply not up to scratch. So much time and effort has been put into developing games that take advantage of touchscreen play. There has been no incentive to start developing games for console-play when touchscreen based games, like Angry Birds, are hugely successful, easily accessible and generate large revenue.
Lastly, developers are less likely to create controller compatible games when an insignificant amount of users have purchased the controller; while users are less likely to purchase a controller with there is an insignificant amount games that have controller compatibility. If Apple finds a way of breaking this cycle we may find the iPhone controller becomes more popular; only then would it supersede other consoles.
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