A few days ago, Microsoft unveiled their first entry into the tablet market. Simply called Surface, this tablet was eye-catching from the start because of some uniqe core features, a gorgeous display, a cover that converts into a full, touch-senstive keyboard and mouse combo and a feature quite uncommon to tablets – a USB port. In an article we published shortly after the Surface tablet was announced, I pointed out the significance of the USB port and what it could mean for gaming on the device. For instance, being able to plug in an Xbox 360 controller would open up a whole new vista of posibilities. As it turns out, I am not alone in thinking this.
Mobile gaming on tablets has exploded in popularity because of the affordability and accesibility of the games, however it’s not without its detractors. Many console gamers are not fans of the touch screen controls, which tend to be better suited to certain typs of experiences over others, and many (myself included) get more satisfaction from using a tactile controller. Jake Kazdal, creative director for 17-Bit, also shares this belief and is looking to design his games on the Surface tablet with supprt for the Xbox 360 controller in mind.
Speaking to Wired magazine, he outlined his position on touch-screen tablet controls and where his preferences lie.
“I don’t like mobile games, I don’t play them, I don’t like the controls. I’m too much of a core gamer, I just can’t get over it. I’m old and stubborn.” Kadal stated, adding “And now I don’t care because I can plug in my wired Xbox 360 controller and all of a sudden I have a full-blown games console wherever I go.”
The issue of “core gamers” being turned off by touch-screen controls is something that the Surface tablet will hopefully address by supporting wired controllers, and even wireless ones if Microsoft’s Wireless Adapter is supported. This would be a benefit for games that aren’t a good fit for touch controls, such as first-person shooters, as well as the ports of console games that some would prefer to play using a standard controller. This is not to say that touch-screen controls should be replaced across the board, but offering the option would be a good selling tool for the fledgling Surface tablet.
This is, of course, the opinion of one developer, but I am hopeful that more will jump on the bandwagon and push for full controller support on tablets. The Surface seems like a logical place to start. The potential downside is that this might push the cost of developing games higher due to the consideration of multiple control schemes, which could adversely impact independent developers. The demand for this functionality could also vary depending on the game, so the implementation will likely be incosnistent at first. However, its a nice idea to be able to get the full console experience on the go, and it’s nice to see others sharing this vision as well.