Date
March 7, 2021
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A revolution in low-latency communications is giving your mobile phone the graphic power of a gaming computer.

Gaming online has come a long way since scientists built the first custom computers for fun in the mid 1950s. From single-player arcade games to multiplayer consoles connecting people from around the world, retro amusement has transformed into serious competition, and the numbers prove it. 

The gaming sector is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Last year the global gaming industry was valued at $162 billion and, according to data from Mordo Intelligence, by 2026 it’s expected to reach almost $300 billion. And as it experiences exponential growth the sector is also undergoing rapid innovation, thanks to cloud-based mobile computing. 

Cloud gaming, sometimes called gaming on demand or gaming-as-a-service, is a type of online gaming that uses remote servers to stream directly to a device. It’s a step up from traditional gaming, which runs games locally onto a user’s video game console, a personal computer or a mobile device. Thanks to wireless networks, an experience once tied to a corded controller can be tapped on any device, anytime, anyplace.

Experiencing an unprecedented boom, the gaming sector is currently delivering cloud gaming which enables the users to play anywhere and anytime – ©Razer

It’s not an entirely new concept but one that has gained momentum in recent years thanks to a shift in gamer behaviour and the deployment of fifth-generation cellular, known as 5G. Die-hard gamers are increasingly ditching their consoles in favor of cloud-based games that can be played on-the-go. Why? Because finally there’s technology that can translate the quality of console gaming onto portable devices. A confluence of better screens, better graphics, 5G’s low latency response times and faster speeds are making mobile gaming as a service possible. 

This in turn has created new opportunities for mobile operators and other game-savvy companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, which have all launched their own versions of cloud gaming. But it’s not just the tech giants getting the most out of this new trend. With mobile gaming evolving to promote a seamless experience using any device that has an internet connection, designers are coming up with ideas that focus on the physicality of the device itself and the experience this offers the gamers as well as the ease of portability. 

In this next section, we are going to introduce you to some of those ideas, from existing mobile gaming controllers to concepts inspired by the success of this trend.

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The best mobile gaming controllers on the market

Mobile Gaming Clip for Xbox Controller

First up is the Xbox mobile clip, a simple and uncomplicated accessory designed for gaming on the go. A sturdy arm attaches to a mobile device, while dual locking articulation points adjust for ergonomic phone placement. It bridges the gap between the idea of a portable console and the original Xbox controller, creating a mini-station for gamers who want consistency when it comes to controls.

Price: $29.95 on OtterBox

Black Shark Gamepad 2.0

Next is a two-piece design that does away with on-screen touch controls and puts the visual experience at the forefront. The Blackshark Gamepad 2.0 is lightweight and easy to carry thanks to its compact slide-and-snap design featuring two controllers with an angular silhouette that attach to a special phone case. Meanwhile, LED lights, 12 customisable buttons, a physical joystick and a precision touchpad work to replicate the console gaming experience.

Price: €79 on Black Shark

IPEGA PG-9167 DUAL THORN

Designed by one of the better-known mobile gaming accessories brands, IPEGA’s PG-9167 DUAL THORN enables high performance and comfort when gaming on the go. The interface on this one is a little more specialised with start, select and turbo buttons for any game titles that might require them. It also comes with a detachable audio module that lets you use your 3.5mm headphones while playing and can be used in one-handed or two-handed mode.

Price: €39. 10 on MyTrendyPhone

Asus ROG Kunai Gamepad

Combining some of the features in the previous models, Asus has designed a controller for its ROG phone that splits into two halves. This modular design consists of a bumper, two controllers, a charger and a grip, giving gamers the option of alternating between gamepad and handheld modes.

Price: €99 on next hardware & software

ROG Kunai Gamepad powered by Asus is a modular design to be attached to the ROG phone – ©Asus

Nuovo Saitake 7007X

The Nuovo Saitake 7007X boasts a unique expandable structure that opens up to fit a mobile phone device inside. A stainless steel sheet gives the product strength while joining together the game controls on either side. Specially designed for Android gaming, the interface features a mini joystick reminiscent of a Nintendo switch with a red and blue colourway to match.

Price: €52.59 on grandado.com

Razer Kishi

Next is the Razer Kishi, a sleek and flexible design that can be stretched and clamped onto most phones. Designed for long gaming sessions, the mobile controller’s comfortable handheld grip has optimized button placements to make sure each button press feels natural and intuitive.

Price: €82.20 on Amazon

A versatile design characterizes the Razer Kishi, together with a comfortable grip – ©Razer

GameSir T1s

Finally, the GameSir T1s game controller, which like the mobile clip previously mentioned uses a multi-angle bracket to hold the mobile device into place. On the outside, a leather texture grip creates a comfortable experience. Meanwhile inside, dual-vibration motors generate realistic vibration to maximise the gaming experience.

Price: $35.99 on GameSir

The GameSir T1s controller features a wireless technology and an ergonomic design for the handle which is made put of leather – ©GameSir

Our fav concept projects for mobile gaming controllers

tundra by Diego Schreibvogel

Building on the success of real-market products, Diego Schreibvogel Cases has created tundra, a set of minimalist controllers with a compact design that attaches to the back of a smartphone. Maximising on space by cleverly concealing their interface, Tundra would pair via Bluetooth and attach seamlessly thanks to its curved design and magnetic surface. The product would also come with a charging case, whose pebble-shape compliments the curvature seen throughout.

PLAY by Fluid Design

Next is PLAY by FLUID Design, a series of control pads designed around an entire ecosystem that turns any mobile device into a gamer’s universe. A set of remote-style controllers and a flexible attachment allows for active gaming, with detachable elements that fix directly to the screen during handheld mode. The PLAY concept also features a 360º projection and sound system that elevates the gaming experience of any device.

PLAY offers a fully flexible ecosystem that turns a mobile device into an uncompromised gaming machine – ©Fluid Design

SWAY by Passakorn Kulkliang

Last up is the most compact design thus far, the SWAY mini-controller designed by Bangkok-based designer Passakorn Kulkliang. Connected via Bluetooth for a hassle-free set-up, SWAY has been designed to support the whole idea behind cloud-gaming – portability. This control depends on the compatibility of the game being played whilst its small and incredibly simple design makes it satisfyingly universal.

Recently, we spoke to Jon Friedman, Corporate Vice President of Design & Research at Microsoft, driving us through the values and practices of a tech giant.

Designed in 2019, SWAY is a compact controller with a simple yet satisfyingly universal design – ©Passakorn Kulkliang
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