So far, our weekly “What Do You Think?" column has touched on hot button issues like payment Preview postmodels, “coming soon" content and push alerts. Today we’re going to be talking about some actual buttons, drawing from the following super succinct email from TouchArcade Show listener and all around cool dude Jermaine C. who simply asks:
Just wanted to know if you had any thoughts on the affect controller support in iOS7 will have on gaming on iOS for the future?
In case you’re not up to speed, it was originally revealed back at WWDC that iOS 7 was going to support official Apple-blessed “Made for iPhone" branded Bluetooth game controllers. Existing controllers like the iCade and similar cheat their way on to the platform by pretending they’re Bluetooth keyboards, and developers who implement support for them have their games listen for what iOS interprets as actual keyboard key presses to work. Unfortunately, this has several drawbacks.
First off, since the iCade and other controllers aren’t authorized accessories, developers can’t (or at least couldn’t in the past) mention anywhere in their iTunes description that their games even work with them. Additionally, the iCade is a super-niche accessory, making the games that support it few and far between as there’s simply not much reason for developers to put tons of effort into adding support when there’s (compared to the number of iOS devices out there) so few in the wild. Worse yet, since the iCade masquerades as a keyboard, even having it connected totally screws up any sort of text input on your device.
These new controllers change all this. Escaping their weird Bluetooth keyboard workaround means real analog controls, controllers that can stay connected all the time, and with it being implemented on the system and official SDK level there’s finally a totally official and supported way to add physical controls to your game. Things get a bit more interesting from there, as we’re suspecting there’s going to be a ton of these controllers available.
In researching for another potential story on iOS 7 game controllers, we got basically the same response from just about every iOS device accessory manufacturer- They might be working on a controller, but they can’t talk about it. Some got ever-so-slightly more specific than others, but the vibe we’re getting is that there’s going to be a lot of talk about game controllers on the keynote on the 10th, with many available at launch whenever the new iPhone and iOS 7 is officially released. Of course, that’s totally unconfirmed, but it fits.
I’m not entirely sure if it’s hyperbole or not just yet to say that official iPhone game controllers will change everything. There’s definitely no shortage of examples of games that’d be way better with real buttons, and with HDMI out and AirPlay capabilities of modern iOS devices it’s even possible that paired with one of these controllers and a TV that you could have a surprisingly console-like experience. All of the pieces to the puzzle are already there, and any iPad game that looks and runs amazing on the Retina Display is going to be even better on the TV as 1080p is actually fewer pixels to push out than what it’s already rendering for local display on the device.
I mean, I could even imagine someone making a slick little accessory that’s something like a dock for your iPhone or iPad that charges it and has a HDMI port to connect to your TV and a cradle to hold and charge the controller. Launch a game, plop your device in, pick up the controller, and blammo. That’d be amazing, I definitely think that’s where we’re heading, and I can’t wait to pick up a whole slew of these iOS 7 game controllers to test out when they finally start launching.
But, what do you guys think about the whole thing? If you’re a developer, are you already implementing support for iOS 7 controllers? Why would you, or wouldn’t you add support in the future? For gamers out there, are you going to be picking one up on day one, will you be waiting for reviews, or does the idea of a game controller to lug around not appealing to you at all? What’s the pricing sweet spot for you? Also, while we’re at it, what do you want to see from us as we begin to stroll into this brave new world of physical controls? Reviews of all of them? Reviews of games with controllers? What else?
Phew, that’s a lot.