Thanks to the fairly reliable @evleaks Twitter account, we may have our first glimpse at Logitech’s iPhone gamepad. There’s nothing unusual about it.
From the product rendering, it appears to be a long slab with a slot for the iPhone in the middle. It appears to add a little over two inches in length, without adding much width. There’s a directional pad on the left, four face buttons on the right and a pair of shoulder buttons on top. In terms of inputs, it’s the equivalent of a Super Nintendo controller.
You may recall that Apple added official controller support in iOS 7, with Logitech and Moga confirmed as partners. The leaked image lines up nicely with one of the sample designs that appears in Apple’s developer documentation. If you’re worried about the lack of analog thumbsticks, fret not. The very same documentation allows for controllers with thumbsticks as well as two buttons on each shoulder. A company called ClamCase has already announced its own thumbstick-laden solution, called GameCase.
Respectfully, I disagree with my colleague Matt Peckham, who believes there won’t be a market for these controllers. He believes that only large-scale, console-quality games developed natively for iOS will help justify physical controls, and that there’s a chicken-and-egg scenario that prevents it from happening.
Personally, I’d love to play Tetris, Limbo or Grand Theft Auto on my iPhone with physical controls, even if they are just ports of existing games. Moreover, if any platform stands to solve the chicken-and-egg problem, it’s iOS. Just look at how the iPad’s tablet app selection ballooned after launch. And if Apple TV ends up supporting games with physical controls, developers will have even more incentive to create new games with controllers in mind.
As for when these controllers will go on the market, that’s still a secret. It’ll be interesting to see how many games try to work with a full array of shoulder buttons and thumbsticks, versus the stripped down controls that Logitech will reportedly offer.