Hey Apple, Pick an iPhone Game Controller

By  |  Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm

GameBoneProBannerAccelerometers and a touch screen have their place in iPhone games, but when a classic like Mega Man 2 has its gameplay drastically altered to accommodate for dodgy controls, there has to be another way.

A couple of companies have created pad-and-button controllers for the iPhone. Most recently, 22Moo introduced the GameBone Pro in hopes of getting worldwide distribution. The controller uses the iPhone 3.0 OS’s new Bluetooth capabilities to connect wirelessly (a 30-pin dock connector also works). 22Moo also said it’s making a clip-on accessory for holding the smartphone and controller together.

GameBone isn’t the only controller concept out there. The iControl Pad, which has a Web site but not a commercially available product, snaps to the iPhone to allow PSP-style controls on either side.

I like these ideas, but their success rests squarely on support from Apple. Without it, game developers won’t program for the controls and players can’t be sure that enough games use the controllers. The GameBone’s official Web site touts “Made for iPod” and “Works for iPhone” certification, but the fine print clarifies that Apple approval is pending.

Apple may not want to approve iPhone game controllers for several reasons. Ars Technica once argued that button controls are a “regression into an old way of thinking,” and Apple may not want any part of that. Along the same line, button controls could encourage more people to seek old console emulators, which aren’t available without jailbreaking.

Still, there’s a level of precision buttons provide, and games like Doom would be better off with the added tactile feedback. If Apple wants to step up the iPhone’s presence as a game machine, it’ll allow for games of all kinds, not just those that require multi-touch and wrist-twisting.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. L1A Says:

    yikes, what a terrible design imo

  2. Hoody Says:

    Apple should just make there own controller. Games would be so much better. Plus it would open up another Market for them.

  3. futureboy Says:

    Totally agreed, we need a standard controller to get the game makers on-board. I’m surprised a game-making-only company like Sega hasn’t jumped on this, especially with their great software presence they could sell a $40 controller and sell their old games with a built-in emulator for $10/pop or something reasonable. Very low cost to Sega, could be a great way to increase profits with minimal investment.

    I’m more of a Nintendo fan myself though, and I think the SNES controller is the best ever. The GameBone Pro is emulating that one, but it doesn’t hook up and it’s, again, not standardized.

    Come on Apple, I’d LOVE to make Apple my gaming platform too and with all the extra features like Bluetooth, Wifi, and Internet, you can do so many cool things, but can you imagine playing a game like Street Fighter with a multi-touch interface? I think not…