As casual gaming grows, so to do the options on how to play those games. For as technically sophisticated as the games are becoming both in terms of gameplay and graphics (see Infinity Blade II), there is still the limitation of having to use the touchscreen for inputting commands. That may work on games like Angry Birds, which are designed for that type of interface, but for most games it makes it difficult to port existing title to smartphones, and it limits the possibilities by developers.
It is a dilemma that many developers of mobile games are keenly aware of, and are constantly looking for ways around. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play tried to offer a built in controller in the phone, but the phone itself couldn’t compete with some of the new hardware of smartphones like the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy, so buyers stayed away.
But mobile peripheral maker, Fructel, has introduced a new peripheral named the Gametel, that might give smartphone owners looking to do some gaming the best of both worlds. The Gametel is a small controller that connects to a mobile device—anything with bluetooth from a smartphone to a tablet. The device is designed to physically clasp onto a smartphone, or to be used independently like any wireless controller.
Depending on the hardware built-into the smartphone, up to four players can use each use a controller for a multiplayer experience.
With just four buttons, it will still limit the amount of games that can be played, but the technology is sound and there are plenty of titles available already: currently there are over 50 games for Android, and over 40 for iOS–the device was originally developed for Android, but has since been introduced for iOS as well.
The Gametel is currently available in Europe, and will debut in America within the next few months. No firm price has been set, but it should be between $50 and $75, possibly less.