Apple Patent Reveals Plans for iPhone, iPad Gaming Control Docks

Sony and Nintendo could have reason to be worried.  Patently Apple has uncovered plans by Apple to build and sell gaming docking stations for both the iPhone and the iPad.  The stations would offer better controls to the mobile devices and open up the gaming market to original developers, rather than just enticing companies to port over existing games.

The move can, and should worry Sony especially. The comapny’s PSP never received the popularity its developers hoped for, and it could put a dent in Nintendo’s dominance on the handheld gaming market.  At least in theory.

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(Image: Patently Apple)

Games have typically been seen by many as an afterthought to the Apple devices.  After all, no one is buying an iPad just to play games on it, but the market is there, and a gaming dock could give many the excuse to see the do-it-all gadgets as gaming devices as well.  It likely won’t convince PSP or DS owners to abandon their current mobile gaming devices, but it could bring new gamers into the market and steal potential future customers from Sony and Nintendo.

The move shows a definite intent by Apple to increase their capabilities as a gaming device, but there are inherent limitations to the Apple devices that might prohibit them from truly attracting gamers- most notably the size limitations.

With no card slots to store or transfer games, both Apple mobile devices will be limited by the storage available, and developers will likely balk at developing original titles that need to be so condensed.  For example, the recently ported Resident Evil 4 that received a slight facelift to be released as a iPad launch title, is cut down from over 5GBs on the Playstation 2, to around 94MBs.  In comparison, PSP title s- which have moved away from discs in favor of digital files – run around 400MB to 500MB per game, and can be as big as 1.6GBs.  Nintendo DS uses physical cartridges.

While the docking station should appeal to gamers who already own an iPad or an iPhone, the space limits of the devices might turn off more avid game fans.  And with no available memory slots, all loading times for games via the Internet could slow the enthusiasm of some.  And yet with the iPad and iPhone replacing multiple mobile devices and becoming all-in-one units, a gaming dock could open the market just enough for Apple to get a foothold.