What's gone wrong with Apple's MFi controller scheme?
By Harry Slater 17 January 2014
Game Name: iOS controllers | Manufacturer: Apple | Format: iPhone, iPad
The MFi controllers are a bit rubbish, really.

We gave the last one we reviewed, the Logitech PowerShell, a 4/10, for example. The MOGA Ace Power, meanwhile, got a slightly less depressing but still pretty bad 6/10.

SteelSeries did better with its Stratus controller, which bagged a Gold Award, but it's still a pricey piece of kit.

Shoddy buttons, unresponsive D-pads, archaic layouts, and eye-watering price tags are the main reasons we've been far from blown away by the first generation of these Apple-approved button boxes.

Well, 9to5Mac has been doing some digging to try and find out why this first batch of MFi controllers is so disappointing and / or expensive.

Perhaps the biggest problem 9to5Mac discovers is Apple's insistence on manufacturers sourcing the pressure-sensitive switches for their MFi controllers from a single Apple-approved source. According to some, these just aren't up to scratch.

These switches are reportedly the cause for a lot of the complaints over controller accuracy and for the high prices of the controllers. iOS gamepad manufacturers have told 9to5Mac that they're looking into approaching Apple to see if they can get their own suppliers ratified instead.

There have also been problems with lines of communication between Apple, manufacturers, and game developers. Beta versions of some of the controllers didn't get into developers' hands until late in the year, meaning they had little time to work on getting their games controller-ready for the device's release.

Hence, the Logitech PowerShell had a picture of Terraria on its box, even though Terraria hadn't at that point been updated to work properly with the controller.

There's also a pretty obvious problem with the controllers - they're all different. For some, you see, that's proof that Apple's guidelines aren't strict enough.

Playing a game on the PowerShell is completely different from playing one on the Ace Power. That means there's more fine-tuning required on the developers' part.

That's led some developers, like Massive Damage, to state that they're not going to bother developing for iOS controllers "until iPhones come with controllers out of the box".

Rules and regulations

So, it looks like Apple needs to enforce more stringent rules in some areas of MFi controller design, and less stringent rules in others.

It's a complex issue, and there isn't a single definitive solution to making the controllers more, well, palatable.

What's obvious is that there are problems with the MFi standards as they stand, and concerned parties need to sit down and resolve the issues soon.
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