Microsoft is experimenting with controllers for mobile gaming

Why it matters: Future cloud gaming services like Stadia and xCloud have long been touting the idea of streaming your favorite games to mobile devices. However, the idea of touch-based controls is enough to make many gamers recoil, doubly so for games that simply require more tactile control. Microsoft’s research teams are aiming to change that.

Research papers spotted by Windows Central outline Microsoft’s ambition to bring Xbox-style controllers to phones and tablets. The prototype controllers would seek to solve the problem of touch controls for games. Moreover, Microsoft seems to be looking to capture a similar experience provided by Nintendo’s Switch.

“As smartphones and tablets have become pervasive, so has mobile gaming. Not surprisingly, popular games for these platforms are focused on touchscreen-based interaction. However, many types of game are less well-suited to mobile devices,” a Microsoft Research paper outlines.

“Mobile gaming devices like the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo’s DS and Switch are dedicated mobile gaming platforms which overcome these limitations via physical controls. The success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls” the paper continues.

Microsoft also seems to have patented designs in addition to its research. The patent and its associated drawings describe two rechargeable “input modules” that attach to a computing device (phone or tablet) and connect directly, or via wireless technologies.

Microsoft seems to have the high-end gamepad segment cornered with its Xbox Elite Controller already, so it’ll be interesting to see what the company can do for mobile. Microsoft extending its controller expertise to phones and tablets may be a logical step, as it would compliment Microsoft’s xCloud, which is set for an October preview.

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