Why Apple Needs a First Party Games Controller

12 Jun

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One of the biggest-take aways from this years WWDC was the partnership between Apple, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony PlayStation. Resulting in Sony and Microsoft licensing the use of their popular controllers on iOS, iPad OS, tvOS and Mac OS. Inside a packed McEnery Convention Centre, the news was met with the kind of hysteria normally reserved for a console release from either of the big gaming brands, but there was good reason.

Up until now the promise of console style gaming experiences on Apple devices never fully materialised – with Apple’s MFi controller program, a major sticking point in the early days for everyone involved. With the announcement that two universally loved controllers were coming to Apple, developers could believe again. All those hours put into a console-like Apple gaming experience’s would no longer be in vane. This one announcement made gamers happy, developers happy and shareholders, happy! After all, Apple Arcade had just opened itself up to 150 million potential subscribers across the globe – and before the service had even launched. The move reaffirmed the importance being placed on Apple’s upcoming subscription service.

As a thrill-seeker I immediately installed iOS 13’s first developer beta on my iPad Pro and connected my DualShock 4. Within moments I was playing games like gimbills’ Trigonarium and Studio Rains’ Teslagrad the way I’ve always wanted to. After years of struggling by with a Nimbus controller, the iOS 13 gaming experience is close to perfection. “So, what’s with the title?” I hear you ask. Why does Apple need its own games controller?

The simple answer to that question is optics. Every time I took out my DualShock 4 to play a game during my down-time, members of the general public didn’t see a guy playing games on an iPad. They saw someone playing PlayStation. That glowing light, the clicky-clack of buttons and the way my digits grip the controller say to anyone with even an iota of interest that I’m playing PlayStation. Such is Sony and Microsofts dominance in the gaming space, their brands often replace the term ‘games’ much like Google has replaced ’search’.

Sony and Microsoft recently entered a strategic partnership of their own. Seeing both companies work together on game streaming and A.I. technologies with the eventual goal , to see core PlayStation and Xbox gaming experience’s come to Apple platforms on a much wider scale in the near future. Both companies know that if their controllers are seen in coffee shops and on plane rides the world over, they continue to control mind-share before their services are ready to come out and play.

The unlikely possibility that Apple openly promotes and sells PlayStation and Xbox accessories within it’s stores leads me to believe that last weeks announcement at WWDC was just part of a bigger story. A story that could see the release of Apple’s very own games controller later this year.

Besides increased optics, what other benefits could potentially come with a first party gaming solution? Well whilst I wouldn’t want to over-speculate on what I’d like to see, it’s clear existing technologies in Apple’s H and W chips would improve the pairing process. Add to that; Family Sharing, Screen Time, Siri and a focus on accessibility and it’s clear there’s potential for another high scoring Apple product.

Let us know on Twitter what you’d like to see in a first party gaming solution, or indeed, if you’d like to see one at all.

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Sigmund Judge
Sigmund is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of ScreenTimes where he began his Apple TV coverage in 2016. With an unwavering passion for Apple, storytelling and storytellers alike, he writes about Apple TV with a focus on the arts, development, tvOS, home theatre and accessibility. Sigmund also co-host’s Magic Rays of Light, a weekly podcast exploring the world of Apple TV and the many talents bringing our screens to life.