Sorry, Consoles, Apple's Controller Support Spells Trouble For You

The biggest news of E3 2013 was the battle between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, a battle centred on consumer rejection of digital rights management and used game restrictions. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Apple quietly fired a shot that could eventually neuter traditional game consoles. iOS controller support could change everything.

Prior to last week's WWDC conference, I suggested that Apple might be on the verge of revealing a game controller for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, based on industry rumblings and tips from our sources. Apple took it a step further, introducing support for third-party game controllers in the upcoming iOS 7 and -- here's the important part -- establishing a standard for how those third-party controllers will operate.

Up until now, third-party iOS controllers have been a scattered mess. Products like the iCade have worked well enough, but in order for them to function properly, a game has to be designed to take advantage of the device. Not a lot of iOS game developers are going to spend the time implementing a control scheme for a product only a handful of gamers own.

With the controller support coming in iOS 7, however, there is a standard. Every compliant third-party controller will function exactly the same, be it Logitech's iPhone 5-to-PSP converter kit style, or a controller with a clip -- peripheral maker Power A is already prepping an iOS version of its popular MOGA Android controller. Developers no longer have to worry about which consumers own which controllers -- they all work.

It's a very 'game console' approach to controller support, one that Apple is uniquely situated among mobile platform makers to implement. The Android platform has been supporting controllers for quite some time, but with countless manufacturers creating an endless array of diverse Android devices, achieving a standard for controllers is problematic. The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch share a single manufacturer, so standards are easy.

And then there's the Apple TV, which is just a game controller and some apps away from becoming a viable home console.

Right now we can hook our iPhones and iPads up to our television sets or stream our games through Apple TV, which is nifty but overall feels very Wii U -- why do I need a single game running on two screens? But an app-enabled Apple TV with controller support would kill. It'd be a relatively inexpensive game console with excellent media streaming capabilities, a rapidly-growing game library and one of the world's most recognisable logos on the front.

An Apple game console wouldn't insta-kill our PlayStations, Wii Us and Xboxen, but it has the potential to reach a much larger audience than Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft could ever hope for. Such an audience would be incredibly attractive to developers and publishers, and when big-name games start seeing more success on iOS than those others... well, we know how they do.

It also bears noting that iOS games are all tightly-controlled by DRM, there are no used game sales, and those decisions are completely out of developer and publisher hands, so they can't be held accountable.

I wouldn't worry too much, at least not for now. Even though I'm pretty sure the Apple TV game console is going to happen (as is Gizmodo), there are too many variables in play to gauge exactly how successful such an endeavour would be.

Except for iOS controller support -- that's no longer a variable. It's coming this fall with iOS 7. I can't wait to see what sweeping changes come with it.


Comments

    It seems to me that this is more likely to combat something like the Ouya rather than the PS4/XBone.

      I think it wuld cut into some of Wii's 'casual' market, in that is would be quite accesible to a large numbe rof consumers who are already familiar with apple's consumer goods. It would impact on mainstream consoles though as devs move thier focus to that potentially more profitable market.

        It will impact but not so much that it will cause trouble for Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo...maybe slightly more as their console is considered to be more accessible for a younger market and parents may see an alternative in apple TV with game apps.
        I have ATV and I am looking forward to the day it has an app store. Is a good move.

      Yeah I think the headline should read more like "Sorry, consoles, apple is upping controller support so that people who already own apple devices can better enjoy their games, and the 3 major companies may lose a few hundred consumers each, can your deep, deep pockets take the tiny hit?" ...Articles like this make me hate game review sites. No one is going to drop their PS4 reorder to run out and buy an iPad and an apple controller, unless they are an idiot. Console gaming may always be a step behind PC gaming (not IMO though) but it will always be 10 steps ahead of mobile.

    Are gamers going to ditch their infinitely more powerful consoles for iOS gaming?

    Somehow I doubt it.

      Nope. The casuals might do it, but they'd be about the only ones.

      Not yet but what about when phones are as powerful as a PC? What then?

        That is not just around the corner. Even as fast as tech is advancing I think that is a long time off.

        And when phones get as powerful as PCs are now, PC then will be much more powerful again.

        Last edited 21/06/13 1:53 pm

          How much more powerful can PCs get though?

          And it isn't a long way away, phones can already do 1080p, have you seen Tegra 4?

            1080p means nothing. PCs were doing that a long time ago. Just because we mainly sit at 1920x1080 isn't because of limitations.

            They can't do the same things in 1080p, though.

            The GPU in Tegra 4 can reportedly deliver 75 GLOPS. By comparison, the crappiest PC graphics card that I could find to purchase new today, a Nvidia GeForce 210 - which, when it was released in April 2009, was already an absolute bottom end bargain basement card - can do a handy 67 GFLOPS. Nvidia's best current card, the Titan, can do 4500 GFLOPS. The dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 does 8192 GFLOPS, or more than 100 times the raw performance of the Tegra 4.

            The performance of these mobile chips isn't amazing. It's positively crap by absolute standards. The tiny power envelope in which they can get that work done is impressive.

              Unless there is a major increase in battery technology, mobile devices are going to hit a complexity wall pretty soon. There is a reason why desktops come with a 1-2kg power supply.

              maybe the term "personal computing" is just evolving. I can see the day that desktop PCs are replaced with a dock for a smartphone [connected w/less to a monitor], with that becoming the PC. Basically carrying around you PC with you everywhere you go. Doesn't seem too far off...

          Even the PS4 has 8 GB of...DDR5? RAM.....8 gigs of DDR3 would be much better than any smart phone will be in the next 5-10 years. And the PS4 and XBO are perfectly capable of matching any high end PC. What good is a PC with 32 gigs of DDR5 when 4-6 gigs of DDR3 with a good CPU and GPU is more than enough to run any game? Just look at "The Last Of Us" it may not be photorealistic but for a 6? year old console and 512 megs of RAM that game looks as good as most PC games.

        About 5 years ago I was running a 1.7ghz Celeron PC. It did everything I wanted it to - which was mainly internet and basic office programs. My trusty EeePC is 1,3 ghz I think.

        I remember buying a PC magazine a few years prior to that heralding the arrival of 1ghz machines.

        The latest leaked HTC is 1.9 ghz.

        I'm not a techhy, and I know it's not all about ghz, but still, I think its evident that phones are as good as PCs.

          Wouldn't your example mean that phones are a little better than 5 year old computers? I don't necessarily disagree with you but your point doesn't really ring true.

            Why doesn't it ring true?

            Sure, if the question is are phones as good as top of the range current day PCs, then the answer will be no.

            If the question is are phones as good as PCs that you may still own and that were of standard tech specs a few years ago, then the answer is yes.

            Personally I find it very impressive that a phone is as good as a netbook that is sold today. And in my opinion the netbook I own is a fully functioning machine.

            A phones specs isn't weak just because a PCs specs are better.

              I don't want to go into detail about architecture etc however these days there is a lot more to it then just ghz and number of cores. if that was the only thing that mattered my i7 920 overclocked to 4.2ghz would much the standard non overclocked ivy bridge cpus however it doesnt. new ones have things like large caches in them which can result in better performance. new ones also have "hyperthreading" which is like doing two things at once. a fully fledged desktop cpu with the same ghz and core will generally still out muscle an ARM phone CPU.

      Sure at the moment that might be the case but in the future a mobile device could be as powerful as next gen consoles.

        And by then next gen consoles will be as powerful as a rocket strapped to a supercomputer (whatever a supercomputer is... is that even a thing?). Everything advances.

    So because Apple announced something it's going to take over the world? Stop jumping on the hype wagon. Mobile gaming has not replaced console or PC gaming. Developers aren't all of a sudden abandoning AAA titles because Candy Crush has taken off as the flavour of the month. Typically, mobile gamers will play a game until the next fad game comes along. That doesn't create a sustainable business model for developers that they could depend on. If/when the Apple games console comes along, it will depend on what games are released on there, whether they're still casual games or more 'hardcore' games as to whether other consoles will come under threat.

    So, iOS7+ only, and requires an extra peripheral.

    This still won't take off.

    Not only would I not touch any Apple console with someone elses twenty foot whacking stick, I would be forced to disown my children if they ever considered such a notion.

      here here to that goo sir.

      Then you aren't that great a parent. Who cares if they would prefer inexpensive casual games?
      I think you're too focused on the logo than the actual product.

    Don't Worry, Consoles, Appleā€™s Controller Support Spells Meh For Everyone

    Last edited 21/06/13 2:23 pm

    Doesn't the need for a bolt-on peripheral (or, at best, a relatively cumbersome case) undermine the 'mobile' aspect of these devices, which is their biggest advantage over traditional consoles?

    If they actually put a HDMI out into iPads for example then a game controller may have my interest. As it stands any games on my iPad or iPhone are for my kids. They find the touch screen easy to use. If you want to compete with the PS3/4 or Xbox 360/One then you'll need to support Full HD with 5.1 sound in my living room. Anything less than that and you're still playing in the pick-up'n'play mobile games market as opposed to full console or PC based gaming.

    Last edited 21/06/13 2:37 pm

    Ha, Sorry apple but a controller is nothing to an entire next gen system, maybe combat with something close to the battle of a controller for iOS games lmao like the OUYA that is going to have all android games on a console sort of system, pretty they'd even beat apples unveil of only a controller lmao. apple are just making themselves look like more of a joke if they really thought they'd be able to take on PS4/XBone.

    If it's being released on iOS 7, then it's support brought about by software, not hardware - so why is the fact that Android devices are made by different manufacturers relevant at all, the operating system is developed by Google, correct?

    I keep waiting for Samsung to buy HTC and then sign Android exclusivity with Google so we can actually start having standards like these, even with a variety of phones. It is really the only thing keeping Android and Android phones from crushing iOS and iPhone.

    Lots of families bought a wii to plonk their kids infront of for some kid-friendly fun. When they go on roadtrips the kids are given old iphones to play badpiggies on. If parents can setup cheap appstore games on their tv's, it will sell - probably to the detriment of some Nintendo sales.

    Mobile games are fun on the bus, sitting in a Dr surgery not in the living room. I wouldn't be buying shares.

      If I have a tablet more powerful than current gen consoles, and I am using it to play a game on my tv using a controller, is that still a 'mobile game'?

    This will come down to risk vs reward for slot of publishers. Big AAA titles could become a rarity if publishers can make a killing elsewhere. It's like cricket when T20 came along. Between it, ODIs & Tests something had to give, and it is the compromise between the two extremes that is losing. We may have a future of casual app gamers & hardcore gamers with PCs (Steamboxes?) with little room left for consoles.

      Yeah because 5 days of cricket watching them for the first 20 overs poking around, Single here, block there, boring. 20 20 are quick, fast paced, see some bit hit early on.

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