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Surge of iOS Game Controllers at E3 as Speculation Looks Towards Apple TV Gaming

TouchArcade has posted a roundup featuring a look at the surprising number of the new iOS gaming controllers shown off at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) event in Los Angeles, California.

New products from gaming companies such as Mad Catz, Razer, SteelSeries, Hori, Signal, Phonejoy, and BigBen Interactive were all shown off at the event, with each company pushing various hardware styles and features to better cater to iOS users.

Mad Catz's C.T.R.L.i controller was described as TouchArcade's favorite of the various controllers shown. It features a full-sized design with console-style controls including face buttons, analog sticks, shoulder bumpers and triggers.


The controller can connect to any iOS 7 device through Bluetooth functionality, and also includes an optional clip for attaching an iPhone. Other controllers like BigBen Interactive's GamePhone Controller Pro, Hori's MFi controller, Signal's RP-One, and Steelseries' Stratus XL also showed off similar full-sized designs.

Meanwhile, controllers like BigBen Interactive's GameGrip and PhoneJoy's MFi controller showed off a design that wraps around an iOS device similar to the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell.


Phonejoy's controller in particular contains the ability to fully collapse while not in use, while BigBen's GameGrip can wrap around an iPad mini and even a full-sized iPad. Razer also demoed its Junglecat controller, which contains a sliding mechanism with face buttons and a directional pad.

The introduction of all these new iOS controllers comes as rumors surrounding the next-generation Apple TV have ramped up, with some of that speculation focusing on the device's gaming capabilities. To this point, some have speculated that Apple could utilize iOS gaming controllers, a set-top box, and an App Store ecosystem to become a major force in the console gaming industry. Original Xbox engineer Nat Brown and Steam founder Gabe Newell shared sentiments that Apple could take the lead in the games console market with such a system.

Iconfactory software engineer Sean Heber (via Daring Fireball) recently wrote a blog post on how Apple could use its new Metal and AirPlay peer-to-peer technologies introduced in iOS 8 to provide a new console gaming experience with the Apple TV and iOS gaming controllers. He explains that Apple could ultimately allow users to use their iOS devices as controllers with minimal input lag, as games would be playable on both the Apple TV and iOS devices:
The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with and will run directly on the AppleTV natively instead. This means no video streaming lag and minimal controller lag. Your iPhone would then turn into a generic game controller with onscreen controls or, if you have a physical shell controller attached to your iPhone, it activates that instead.

...You can play without needing to purchase the game on that particular AppleTV, without needing to sign in with your iCloud account to access your purchases, without needing to get their wifi password, or indeed without there even needing to be a wifi network to join in the first place. All without any hassle. When you go home, you take the game and any earned progress along with you in your pocket.
In addition to gaming, Apple's next-generation Apple may also feature cable-box capabilities and perhaps a streaming TV service through a partnership with Comcast. However, Apple's iTunes Chief Eddy Cue said recently that Apple is continuing to work on a way to improve the television experience, but a fix is "complicated."

Related roundups: Apple TV, iOS 8, iOS 8 Features

Top Rated Comments

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7 weeks ago

until the get Fully functional PC/Console games on to AppleTV or iOS there isn't going to be much competition


sure iOS+Android competes with the nintendos and sonys mobile game industry


but they aren't touching the console and pc market till they can handle those type of games.


i have no intention to play iOS games on apple tv, possible tell tale games like walking dead or wolf among us, and couple arcade games but besides that not much. might be good enough for the casual/social gamer.

Well, they probably would concentrate on the casual side. But did you see the Metal demos at WWDC? The A7 chip inside every current iPhone and iPad is capable of incredibly impressive effects right now. The iPad Air is already rendering at greater than HD resolution at 60 fps. Then, consider that we just started a new generation of consoles that last what, about 7 years? Imagine what the A8, A9...A??? chips will do. The capabilities are likely to surpass what current XBOX/PS4/Wii U consoles are capable of, long before the next generation of console comes out. Also, Apple would have fewer power and thermal constraints than in a phone, they could get even more out of the same chips. And Apple can sell even a beefed-up Apple TV for perhaps half as much as consoles or less.

It's an incredible opportunity and if the boxes are out there, even the top games will come (although obviously not those produced exclusively for/by Nintendo/Sony/MS). Apple is on pace to sell 14M or more Apple TVs in 2014, even in its current bare-bones "hobby" incarnation, and that will be more if there's a serious gaming version, with the app store to support it.
Rating: 6 Votes
7 weeks ago
In the WWDC keynote they kept saying "console-level gaming"

It would be cool for the next AppleTV to be a game console as well.

Apple already has everything to make it happen... hardware, an app store, developer support...

And now controllers :)
Rating: 3 Votes
6 weeks ago
Although mobile GPUs still have a bit to go before they reach thier console brethren
(and that gap gets significantly smaller each & every year) as of right now, SP & MP iGaming is absolutely viable.

Combined with a nice iController, AppleTV won't conquer Xbone or PS4,
but it absolutely will, rightly or wrongly, surpass the WiiU in console gaming revenue as well as
fulfilling the role of being an inexpensive yet very high quality (and heavily supported)
"training wheels" console for Junior & Suzy who just aren't quite ready to play with the big boys yet,
but they can not only play games, they can also watch "Frozen" for the 12 billionth time, too.

I, for one, welcome our new gaming Overlords!
Rating: 3 Votes
7 weeks ago

The key difference is where the AirPlay extension app actually executes - the AirPlay extension app will be automatically uploaded to whatever AppleTV you are currently AirPlaying with


I smell future exploits.
Rating: 2 Votes
7 weeks ago
As much as Apple loved saying "console level gaming", I highly doubt the ATV will reach that standard running on an ARM chip and using a phone with a 3rd party game controller as a controller.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but I'm somewhat skeptical.
Rating: 2 Votes
7 weeks ago

As much as Apple loved saying "console level gaming", I highly doubt the ATV will reach that standard running on an ARM chip and using a phone with a 3rd party game controller as a controller.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but I'm somewhat skeptical.


At this point i think Apple really has 2 options for the TV. Crunch it's price down to compete with the Chromecast or give it a serious app store and processor upgrade to compete with the Kindle Fire TV And Sony Playstation TV while keeping the same price point.

If they take the second approach a storage bump or microSD card slot would be essential too.
Rating: 2 Votes
6 weeks ago


Then, consider that we just started a new generation of consoles that last what, about 7 years?


Actually, they're forecasting ten+ years for this gen.
Deminishing returns dictates this because
there really isn't that much further to go until the Carmack Singularity is hit.

Nobody will want to by a console that is only better by an even smaller jump than the one from PS 3 to PS 4,
so they're gonna let 'em linger around for a few years longer so buyers will be a little bit hungrier for a change.

Of course, during this decade of consoles standing rock still,
mobile GPUs will eventually catch up to and then surpass this current gen's offerings.

And yes, you're also right about the sheer number (and capability) of AppleTVs attracting console devs.
Except, like you say, "Destiny" & "The Last Of Us".
And "Mario" too, right? Nope. The writing's on the wall for Nintendo.
By the time console/iPad parity is reached, they will already be a major presence in the App Store.
And Android too, right? Nope again. Nintendo will avoid the piracy-saturated Android OS like the plague it is.
Rating: 2 Votes
6 weeks ago
The mad catz one finally seems like the first decent controller for iOS.
Rating: 1 Votes
6 weeks ago

All without any hassle. When you go home, you take the game and any earned progress along with you in your pocket.


And, as Sean Heber mentions in his blog, there would be no need for a separate "Apple TV App Store." And I think that's the biggest pain-point-elimination. For consumers and for developers. I can only imagine how awful it would be to have separate "Apple TV apps" and traditional iOS device apps.

As a consumer you'd need to buy the apps on your Apple TV, which would then force you to either 1. play them only on your own Apple TV or 2. get your friends to buy them when you want to play at their homes. As a developer you'd need to publish separate, but just slightly different, version of your apps for the different Apple TV and normal iOS App Stores. Horrible idea for everyone. Not to mention the double workload for the App Store employees who review apps.

Glad to see that there's a coherent way out of that nightmare scenario. And yes, it will take the legacy console gaming industry by surprise. And no, there's little if anything they can do about it. They're so dug in to their legacy technologies that nothing they can do, technologically or marketing-wise, can save them.
Rating: 1 Votes
6 weeks ago

Nothing for keyboard and mouse gamers?


Is there ever?
Rating: 1 Votes

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