I’ve long believed that touchscreens leave a certain something to be desired when it comes to playing games, and if a new (and very curious) report holds true, Apple may feel the same way. According to PocketGamer.biz’s Jon Jordan, Apple has been meeting with developers on-site at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to talk about a forthcoming Apple game controller.
Jordan’s multiple developer sources claim that the Cupertino company has booked a meeting room under an assumed name to talk about the game-centric device, though they weren’t able to shed any light on what the thing will look like or when it will actually see the light of day. That said, Apple is expected to hold an iPad-centric event in April so it’s possible that this controller may be officially unveiled in just a few weeks.
At first glance, the prospect of Apple churning out a game controller of all things seems downright silly, but after chewing on it for a while the notion doesn’t seem quite as outlandish. You’d be hard-pressed to think of OS X as prominent a platform for gaming as Windows is (though some big-league developers are working to change that), but iOS plays home to a staggering number of games and it’s not inconceivable to think that Apple would want to enhance the sorts of gaming experiences available to iPhone, iPod and iPad users. As such, a game controller seems like the sort of thing that Apple would agonize over getting right, and it appears that Apple may have been doing just that.
In the site’s 2012 review of the 3rd generation iPad, AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri let slip a tantalizing tidbit when discussing the iPad’s faculty as a gaming machine: ”I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen,” the review reads.
What’s more Apple has been seen bulking itself up with patents that relate to a potential gaming push for at least a few years now. This patent from 2008 describes an accessory that wraps around a portable electronic device with touchscreen (sound familiar?) and includes a standard D-Pad and button, while this one spotted in 2012 takes a slightly different approach. Either way, these patents plus the AnandTech comments make it rather clear that Apple has been mulling over a physical game controller (or something like it) and it may be time for those ambitions to come to fruition.
I’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update if/when they respond.
(Also, here’s hoping it looks nothing like the Pippin controller pictured above.)