Pocket Gamer Explainer: MFi game controllers for iPhone, iPod, and iPad in iOS 7

Everything you need to know about gamepads from MOGA, Logitech, and SteelSeries

Pocket Gamer Explainer: MFi game controllers for iPhone, iPod, and iPad in iOS 7

The controller revolution has begun.

Apple's first officially licensed joypads are here, the first controller-compatible games are on the App Store, and the days of having your thumbs obscure the action is over.

But what are all these gamepads all about? How they do differ from the iCade controllers currently gathering dust in my cupboard? What works with what, and how much cash do they cost?

We're here to answer your pressing questions. If you're still confused, let loose in the comments section below and a PG staffer will help out.

How are these controllers different from the ones you can already get, like the iCade?

All previous iOS gamepads were unofficial peripherals from manufacturers that used loopholes - like hijacking the headphone jack or pretending the device was a Bluetooth keyboard - to hook the pad up with your iOS device.

These new controllers, however, are officially licensed by Apple (under its "Made for iPhone / iPod / iPad" scheme). Makers of these new gamepads have to adhere to some strict rules about button layouts, analogue stick dead zone, and response time.

Plus, all the controller programming code is provided by Apple itself.

The idea is that with all the controller manufacturers working to the same spec and all the game makers working with the same code, all controllers will work with all games - and all games will work with all controllers. We'll see how that goes.

What types of controllers will be available?

Manufacturers can make three types of controller...

Standard form-fitting

- They can make a "standard form-fitting controller". This has a D-pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons - and the whole thing wraps around your iOS device.

Extended form fitting

- They could, instead, make an "extended form-fitting controller". This also wraps around the iOS device. In addition to all the same buttons as the controller above, it has two analogue sticks and two shoulder triggers.

Extended wireless

- Finally, gadget makers can choose to build an "extended wireless controller". It has all the same buttons as the extended form-fitting controller, but it works over Bluetooth. This means it can work on multiple devices (including Mac), and in both landscape and portrait games.

What devices are compatible with these controllers?

It's going to depend on the controller. The small form-fitting pads obviously don't work with iPad. And if your new peripheral is rocking a Lightning connector, it's not going to work on an old iPhone with a 30-pin port.

Check out the controller list further down this feature for more details.

What games are compatible with these controllers?

We're keeping a list of the best games with controller compatibility over here.

All games will be compatible with the extended controllers, even if they don't support the extra features (the analogue sticks and triggers). Some games may require those features and are therefore not compatible with the standard gamepad.

You should check the App Store description of each game before buying to be sure.

What controllers are available to buy right now?

We'll keep this list updated with controllers as they are announced and released.

MOGA Ace Power Moga Ace Power

Type: Extended form-fitting
Compatibility: iPhone 5, 5C, 5S / fifth-gen iPod touch
Price: £79.95 / $99.95
Where to buy: Apple Store UK / Apple Store US
Special features: 1800mAh battery. Can charge connected iOS device.

Logitech PowerShell Controller Logitech PowerShell

Type: Standard form-fitting
Compatibility: iPhone 5, 5S / fifth-gen iPod touch
Price: £89.95 / $99.99
Where to buy: Apple Store UK / Apple Store US
Special features: 1500mAh battery. Can charge connected iOS device.

SteelSeries Stratus SteelSeries Stratus Type: Extended wireless
Compatibility: iPhone 5, 5S, 5C / fifth-gen iPod touch / iPad 4, Air / iPad mini
Price: $99.99
Where to buy: SteelSeries.com
Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.