There are already a number of third-party game controllers for iOS available on the market, but now there are rumors that Apple is working on its own first-party physical controller. The rumors stem from a recent AnandTech review of the iPad (third gen) which claimed that the gadget is in the works.
"I know of an internal Apple project to bring a physical controller to market, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day remains to be seen," is what the review actually states. "As smartphones and tablets come close to equaling the performance of current game consoles, I feel like the controller problem must be addressed."
On the Android front, Sony did address the problem by developing the Xperia PLAY, combining touchscreen phone with gamepad. Yet because the mobile phone sector advances so rapidly, it's not at the top of the smartphone food chain. Gamers weren't flocking for the device when it debut, and generally seem quite comfortable using the touch-based input on a whole. Google has even addressed the gaming issue by baking wired and wireless controller support into Google 3.0 "Honeycomb" and later.
As the review points out, in a FPS, the keyboard and mouse combo is far more superior, yet developers focus on the console controller setup (even on PS3). But they've also improved this input method over the last decade, so it's safe to say the same will likely happen with touch-based controls. Even the Xperia PLAY with its two touchpads show that we have a long way to go to reach perfection, but games are definitely playable either way (touch vs gamepad).
For now though, controller support appears to be necessary, and Google with its third-party suppliers are providing on the Android front. Is Apple feeling the pressure? Possibly given that both Google and Apple accounted for 58-percent of the U.S.-based game software revenue by the end of 2011. Apple isn't just competing with Google either -- it now has Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to contend with now. Out of The Big Three, Nintendo will pose as the biggest threat by 4Q12 by infringing on its touch-based tablet space with the Wii U console.
Still, does Apple need to develop its own game controller when third parties are doing a fine job on their own? It probably wouldn't hurt to have an official Apple device, but it would seem that Apple would have already coughed up a controller by now if it thought the device was really necessary. That's just an opinion, of course.