November 20, 2013, 6:00 AM —
So you think you'd enjoy games on your phone more if you could somehow control them with physical buttons, eh? Well Moga is one company that is more than willing to help you out with that.
Moga has been offering a line of Android controllers for about a year now. I bought their first model for $50 and wasn't very happy with it. Since then, the controller I bought (or one very similar) has dropped to about $30 while Moga rolls out more and more elaborate new products while pushing the cost higher. The Moga Pro Power Controller for Android costs $80.
With iOS 7, Apple has added controller support for its mobile devices and now Moga has announced a product for iPhone and iPad Touch owners, the "Moga Ace Power." You can sign up to be notified when it is available for purchase, but brace yourselves: The Moga Ace Power is going to cost $100.
Gizmodo was lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the Moga Ace Power and they seem to like it well enough, but when they refer to it as "cheap fun" I can't help but scratch my head. $100 for a game controller for your phone seems something other than "cheap" to me.
Moga seems to have based the Ace on the Xbox controller, with offset analog sticks and buttons labeled ABXY, only they reversed the colors on them. So where the Xbox controller as a red B and a green A, the Ace has a green B and a red A. The blue and yellow X/Y colors are similarly reversed (though button positions remain the same).
Rather than holding the phone/iPod in a bracket above the controller (that's how Moga's Android controllers work) the Ace kind of enfolds the phone, which probably makes the experience feel a lot less 'top heavy' than the Android controllers do (this is possible, of course, because there aren't a bazillion sizes and shapes of iPhones to support).
It does seem like the Ace will only work with the iPhone and iPod Touch since it plugs in through the Lightning connector. Contrast that to the Bluetooth connection of their Android controllers that allows them to pair with tablets as well.
I'll be honest and admit I don't follow iOS gaming closely enough to know how prevalent controller support is; I'll assume if you're serious enough about iPhone gaming to spend $100 on a controller, you're better informed than I am. Gizmodo offers the expected experience that some games control better than others.
What we need now, though, is for Apple themselves to offer an iController. That's what iOS needs to get robust support for physical controls from iOS game developers. And maybe they can figure out a way to support gaming on iPad or Apple TV too, as long as they're at it.
[Update: This morning Engadget has coverage of Logitech's Powershell Controller, a similar device that is also $100, but doesn't have analog sticks. Maybe the Ace isn't over-priced after all.]
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.