Yesterday, Nyko unveiled the PlayPad and the PlayPad Pro, two wireless Bluetooth gaming controllers designed for Android phones and tablets running 3.0 or higher. These controllers were designed in tandem with Nvidia and, as far as I can tell from the press release, only work with devices running Nvidia’s own Tegra processors, which suggests limited compatibility, at least when taking Android phones into consideration but Nyko has also developed a free app called Playground to, as Nyko claims in their press release:
Provide backwards compatibility for their controllers with legacy tablet titles, including those that currently utilize keyboard mapping, touch mapping and mouse support. Playground provides profile management for customized control schemes, as well as pre-set profiles for top selling and popular games. Like Nyko’s tablet controllers, the app will not require rooting of the device.
Which is very cool. I’m not sure how many Android games support keyboard button mapping but the fact that Nyko is including support for these apps is very promising.
But, as I was reading about these gamepads, I couldn’t help but think, “Why can’t we have something like this for iOS”?
I play a lot of games on my iPhone. Some, like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, work well with the touchscreen because they are built around simple motions like swipes and taps. Other games like N.O.V.A. 3, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, Real Racing 2 and Shadowgun are far more sophisticated. Though enjoyable, there’s always something missing when I play games likes these on my iPhone, a missing sense of tactility that I’ve grown so accustomed to, having grown up with controllers in my hands and buttons and analog sticks under my thumbs.
Think about it, the number one complaint that people have with using the iPhone or any touchscreen device over the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita is that those smartphones and tablets lack real buttons. Touchscreen control schemes have grown up quite handily over the years but to a gamer like me, there’s no substitute for real buttons and analog sticks when playing a fighting game or first person shooter on a handheld.
Apple has the distinct advantage of controlling the entire iOS software and hardware lineup so there’s no reason they couldn’t come out with an external controller for iOS devices. I say Apple should be the one leading the charge because they’re the ones who can ensure that third party developers will pick up this technology and run with it. If Apple sets the tempo, developers will fall in line. They’ve done it before and they can do it again.