During its WWDC keynote yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple’s tvOS would now support third-party controllers such as the PS4’s Dualshock and the Xbox One S gamepad. Later, game companies confirmed iOS 13 would also support said controllers — meaning Apple’s upcoming game service, Arcade, just got a whole lot easier to play.
Sony confirmed via the PlayStation Twitter that the Dualshock 4 would be supported by iOS and iPadOS (also announced yesterday during WWDC). The primary emotion accompanying the reveal is mostly relief. Finally you don’t have to pay for yet another controller just for the sake of not having to struggle with touch controls. Given the number (and complexity) of games now available on the App Store, the ability to use a familiar controller will no doubt be a boon to the players. I can imagine there are several thousand mobile Fortnite and PUBG players who’ll be cheering after iOS 13 rolls out.
But the real winner here is Apple Arcade. When Apple revealed the service earlier this year, it also revealed that it would have over 100 games, some of which would likely require careful control. I shudder at the thought of playing the planned Sonic Racing game with touchscreen controls. So the idea that you can pick up a controller — and not a proprietary one, but one you likely already own — and start playing an Arcade game is infinitely more appealing than the alternative. Considering Apple had, up to now, not supported any popular game controllers, it would have been a huge dent in Arcade’s appeal.
iOS has supported some gamepads in the past, but mostly those licensed by Apple themselves (unless your device was jailbroken, of course) — and speaking as someone who currently has five different gaming controllers littered around them right this moment, it seems like a waste to have to buy yet another device just for one service. For comparison, that was one of the “meh” moments in Google’s Stadia presentation — as much as I liked the Google Assistant integration in the optional Stadia controller, I didn’t like the idea of buying it. I thought the appeal of Stadia was supposed to be that you didn’t have to get space-taking hardware in order to play.
I’m curious to know if it’s just going to be PS4 Dualshocks and Xbox One controllers supported. If both are available via Bluetooth, other similar controllers should in theory be supported as well. We’ve contacted Apple for more information.