In the past, the use of a separate controller for mobile gaming was something that really only interested hardcore gaming enthusiasts, or those with particularly specific preferences for gameplay. It’s a good bet, however, that controller-based mobile gaming is going to be getting more popular in the years to come. This is for three reasons. First, smartphone games are only going to get more sophisticated, which will in some cases demand more advanced and precise controls. Second, we’ve only scratched the surface of mobile-based VR and AR gaming, and both will require controllers in many cases. And third, the number of good existing compatible with external controllers seems to be growing. With all being said let’s discuss some of the major factors which should come in your mind before picking up a controller for mobile gaming.
Last year’s list of Top 10 Mobile Games With Controller Support spoke to this idea, and included games like Stardew Valley, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and even Minecraft, to name some popular selections. None of this means you’ll need a controller to play mobile games moving forward. But we’re betting that more enthusiastic smartphone gamers will increasingly appreciate the option. And that brings us to the main point of this post, which is what exactly the options actually are. There are actually quite a few, but the following broad ideas cover most of them.
Select a popular Controller
First, as you may well already be aware, you have the option of simply choosing a popular controller that’s widely available. There are actually a ton of them out there, though IGN’s piece on the best mobile controllers does a nice job of rounding up the best ones. Among them, you’ll see what are essentially imitations of popular console controllers old and new, as well as some more unique designs like the Razer Kishi.
Some are compatible only with Android or iOS devices, so be careful when looking for a suitable option. But these are basically tried-and-true controllers that work with mobile devices (for the games that support them, anyway).
Download Independent designs
If you’re not keen on buying an existing controller, it’s worth noting that plenty of people have designed their own as well — and you may have luck trying to download those designs to piece one together on your own.
This begins with the internal circuit board that makes a controller work, and in some cases, you can actually access existing designs to use for your own project. Some will actually be available for purchase as completed circuit boards; in other cases, Altium’s notes on PCB design imports discusses that you can effectively download circuit designs from various sources to a software program where you can either tweak it or have it produced for yourself.
Beyond internal mechanisms, downloading a design largely comes down to 3D printing. As this technology improves, there are more and more independent designs that are either available as free downloads or for purchase. Pairing one of these 3D-printed controllers with the internal electronics of your choice can lead to a unique mobile controller that’s all your own (even if it’s a bit of a project).
Make your own from Scratch
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, or if you just happen to have a good head for technology and engineering, you can also build your own controller from scratch!
This is basically the same process as the one just discussed above, except that instead of downloading existing designs, you’ll have to come up with them on your own. That means either physically engineering a controller or crafting a digital design for 3D printing yourself. It also means learning your way around printed circuit board software so that you can design a fully functioning PCB for the controller on your own.
Again, this is only for those who feel up to the task, or who really value the idea of crafting a one-of-a-kind controller. But it is doable, and provided a few specific skills it’s actually not the most complex of tech builds.
Wait for something new
If our main assumption is that controllers for mobile gaming are going to become more essential, it stands to reason that newer and better controllers will also be coming out. We already know, for instance, that the new Xbox Series X controller is going to be compatible with Android devices — and there’s almost certainly more to come.
For this reason, the best option for some who are interested in taking mobile gaming to the next level with thinking for picking up an external controller might ultimately be to sit tight and see what’s available a little while from now.
What are your thoughts on the things you need to know before picking up a controller for mobile gaming? Are you searching for a controller for mobile gaming yourself? Let us know in the comments section below.