iPad to get physical controller?

Perhaps Apple may someday give us more control options

In a recent review of the new iPad on hardware enthusiast web site Anandtech, the site's founder Anand Lal Shimpi revealed that Apple may be working on a physical game controller for the iPad. "I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen," noted Shimpi in his review.

Many hardcore gamers have dismissed the possibility of gaming on tablets because of the lack of joysticks, buttons, and tactile feedback, which they believe makes many types of console games (such as first-person shooters) impossible to execute well. In his review, Shimpi says "As smartphones and tablets come close to equalling the performance of current game consoles, I feel like the controller problem must be addressed."

It is worth noting that Android's latest versions (since Honeycomb) include support for both wired and wireless controllers. Several manufacturers make controllers that can be used with Android tablets, though such controllers are typically $50 or $60, which seems expesnive considering the games are usually less than $10 each for tablets.

So far, tablet games have managed to get by without the need for external controllers; designers have been clever at finding ways to put different controls into the touchscreen, and it may just be that gamers need to get used to these alternatives (or they need to get better, or both). Gamers once thought first-person shooters would be impossible on consoles due to the lack of a keyboard/mouse combination, which is still the interface of choice for the best FPS players (as noted in this article on the new iPad).

If Apple were to come out with a good game controller for the iPad, it would certainly get support from game publishers. It would also make it possible to port more games to the iPad without having to redesign the control inputs, assuming that an Apple controller would have all the typical inputs of a console controller. Publishers would still have to port software to a very different hardware platform, but that's something they're used to doing. Will Apple actually do this? About the only thing we can be sure of is that we probably won't know until they ship it, if they ever do.

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Latest comments (5)

Stephen Richards Game Deisgner 8 years ago
It seems inevitable they'll do it eventually. Then - when they've sorted out wireless video streaming to TVs - that's when ipads will start to become a threat to consoles. Of course, they'll still be twice as expensive and less powerful.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D8 years ago
"Of course, they'll still be twice as expensive and less powerful."

Wait and see the price of the new consoles. And even if the iPad IS more expensive, it will be a lot more versatile and portable than consoles.

I remember when a lot of "hardcore" PC gamers were going on about how consoles would never be a threat. Now a lot of the people I know who were saying that then play most of their games on consoles now. I think the iPad has the potential (and note potential) to represent the same kind of threat to consoles.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today8 years ago
So in the future people will lug around a 10-inch iPad, add-on keyboard, controllers, a mouse and a stand to hold up the iPad for $1,500?
I will stick with the fully functional laptop.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
No need to lug that all around. When you take your tablet with you, you play it on the go as a tablet. But the idea is that when you're at home, more full functional games could be played on your TV, sent to it by the tablet, and controlled with a traditional controller.
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Stephen Richards Game Deisgner 8 years ago
Fran: I have no idea how expensive the next consoles will be but they'll always be vastly more powerful per pound spent than ipads, seeing as sony and microsoft typically make a loss on consoles whereas apple sells ipads at a large profit.

It's true that ipads will become better value for money when they can act as a home console as well as a handheld one, but like all of apple's products, they'll still be at the high end of the market. (They've also got other issues to overcome such as the current 16gb hard drive limit for game instillations.) So I think the next consoles will compete well with upcoming ipads, so long as they price themselves competitively.
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