GamesBeat recently covered the crowded console-alternative market. The profile included devices like the Wikipad and the Razer Edge, which are tablets with analog sticks and physical buttons. No iOS devices made it on the list because it just doesn’t seem like Apple cares to offer the kind of controller functionality required to compete with console games.
Apple probably never will do that, but that won’t stop Audojo (the company and the product) from trying.
Audojo is an iPad case that provides full console-like controls for the iOS tablet. The project is up on Kickstarter right now with a $240,000 goal. It currently has over $24,000 in pledges from 267 backers.
“With an install base of 100 million iPads and the largest library of games, we think there is the potential to be a major player in this space,” Audojo cofounder Matt Tullis told GamesBeat. “We’re delivering a form factor that combines the possibilities of the touchscreen with the benefits of physical controls, similar to the Wii U. When combined with the Apple TV, you can get a console-style experience on your TV.”
How it works
On Android, just about everything is open, so it’s pretty easy to add controller support. You can hook up just about any Bluetooth controller and use a few free apps to control your games with a Wiimote or PlayStation 3 controller.
It’s not quite as simple on iPad, so Audojo isn’t just a shell with some analog sticks. The company also provides the required technology to make games work with the case.
“Currently, iOS doesn’t have any native controller support,” said Tullis. “We use the headphone jack to communicate with the game.”
That’s the same input method that other devices, like the Square credit-card reader, use as well.
“The game developer integrates our SDK and maps the buttons as they like,” he said. “We also have created a Unity package to make it really simple for developers using the Unity game engine. We feel this will help us drive a lot of support.”
Unity is a popular game-development tool. A Unity package is a plug-and-play solution that developers use to add different functionality to their games. Studios using Unity can add support for Audojo in a matter of minutes.
What about the games?
“There are many genres of games that are currently on the iPad that would work well with physical controls,” said Tullis. “First-person shooters, sports games, racing/flying games, or platformers would all work well. Many of these games have resorted to onscreen touch joysticks currently. As many gamers have pointed out, this just doesn’t work well.”
In the company’s pitch video, they show Audojo working with shooter 1948: Dawn of Future and Cowboy Guns, which are both available now in the App Store.
“Other popular titles that would work well with physical controls are Dead Trigger and Shadowgun from Madfinger Games — both award winning games and top-sellers/grossing,” said Tullis. “Then there are the popular titles like Grand Theft Auto and Madden that are just begging to be played with physical controls.”
Madfinger Games uses Unity for its releases, so it could easily add Audojo support if it decides to do so.
An Apple alternative to consoles
If Audojo secures funding, finds an audience, and gains wide developer support, it could add a really interesting wildcard to the Apple ecosystem. It turns the iPad into a portable console, but it can also take over the living room television with the use of Apple TV’s AirPlay feature.
AirPlay can mirror any image from an iOS device on a television without wires. It turns the iPad and Apple TV combination into an Apple take on the Ouya.
Analysts and gamers always speculate that Apple will do more with this feature, but it hasn’t. That’s why I didn’t include it on that console-alternatives article, but game developers — many of which are still attached to buttons — may will this into existence.