While visiting accessory companies at E3, such as Power A and Nyko, I saw
that steps were being taken to overcome one of the biggest objections to
smartphone and tablet gaming. Touchscreen controls are sometimes not accurate
enough or they can interfere with what players see on the screen. The MoGa
controller from Power A and the PlayPad controller from Nyko are the first two
entries into the mobile controller sector, and both work very well. The target
for both companies is to make the controllers affordable, as a target of less
than $50 is being sought for each.
Power A’s MoGa controller seems to be slightly more
portable, and the design allows a smartphone to be seated on the controller for
a more handheld-like feel. The controller has two analog discs, four face
buttons, and two trigger buttons. The face buttons are a bit small, and the
discs feel a little stiff, but the controller works quite well. MoGa works on
two AAA batteries, which last for more than 20 hours. I did note a bit of
latency when first trying the MoGa behind closed doors with Six Guns, but other
games (like Sky Gamblers) worked a lot better. MoGa will also work with tablets,
but its primary, more compact design seems to be aimed towards the smartphone
Nyko’s PlayPad, conversely, seems targeted at the tablet
market. Designed with the support of NVIDIA, the PlayPad also works quite well.
In fact, it’s remarkably similar to a console experience. The buttons and analog
sliders are responsive and latency is rare. The larger version of the PlayPad -
aptly called the PlayPad Pro - feels almost exactly like
a console controller. The NVIDIA link is perhaps Nyko’s greatest advantage here.
Both the MoGa and the PlayPad offer their own storefronts for games that are
compatible with each controller, plus Power A and Nyko are actively courting
publishers and developers to take advantage of the new controllers. Power A’s
lineup, with Namco, SEGA, and Atari already on board, is a great start. It’s a
lot closer to a console experience playing Virtua Tennis with a MoGa than it is
with touchscreen controls. Nyko will likely bring other publishers on board as
the release date for the PlayPad gets closer.
Power A and Nyko are aware of the explosive growth in the mobile gaming
market. Smartphone and tablet penetration continues to strengthen while consoles
remain stuck in the current generation of hardware. Getting more involved in
mobile gaming, at the very least, is a smart contingency plan for both
companies. If console penetration declines in Gen4, as is expected, taking
advantage of this relatively new and expanding market will be key to maintaining
success for the near-term and possibly beyond.
Note: Snakebyte was also showing off their strangely-named new iOS/Android-compatible
Bluetooth controller, the idroid:con, though I was unable to
sample it for myself. The design seems in keeping with their past
PC and console releases, and
Snakebyte promises that the idroid:con will be compatible with every game that
uses the iCADE accessory.