A patent filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office has hinted that Nintendo may be in the midst of designing a Game Boy controller for smartphones. An application for the patent was submitted relatively recently on March 16, 2018. Nintendo’s submission strongly suggests that the Japanese company is open to making the smartphone a platform for gaming. The effects a big company like Nintendo may bring to mobile gaming could change mobile gaming’s future.
Siliconera was the first to find Nintendo’s patent for a smartphone Game Boy controller. Based on the Abstract portion of the patent, a smartphone should theoretically fit snugly into a case that is shaped like the original Game Boy.
It seems like the Game Boy controller is built to be like a phone case with a square window at the top so the gamer can view the screen of their smartphone through it. The case opens up like a book. With it open, a phone can be snapped into place in the inner flaps.
Once the phone is placed inside, it seems like all the gamer has to do is close the front flap of the case over the screen.
At the bottom of the front cover of the case is the controller which is adorned with the iconic plus sign, two circular buttons, and two Tic-Tac shaped buttons. According to Siliconera, the physical buttons on the case should connect with the touchscreen of the phone and produce the required actions to play the game.
Nintendo Game Boy controller for smartphones is an accessory that gamers seem to want. There are already some phone accessories that turn mobile devices into Game Boys. Take, for instance, the Hyperkin SmartBoy Mobile Device which is sold on Amazon for USD$38.99.
According to a thread on r/NintendoSwitch, there are mobile gamers who prefer physical buttons, especially when it comes to playing classic games on smartphones. One such player, u/PlayStation-Pro, voiced similar thoughts on the thread mentioned above.
“Considering the fact mobile phone gaming is thriving right now, it is a good idea for smartphones to start to be fully compatible with physical controller[s].”
“Sorry to say, but touchscreen gaming simply can’t beat physical controllers[s]. They are so horrible… Lack [sic] of physical feedback, finger covering screen, unresponsive virtual button, and bare-bone control scheme surely make[s] me despise touchscreen control[s].”
The thread was started by u/PopsTheOldMan who posted his/her mock-up of a phone case with a joy-con slot for one of the NX’s controllers. It started a conversation about physical controllers for mobile games.
Even though there may be a want/need for physical controls by mobile gamers, Nintendo’s Game Boy controller for smartphones still needs some work. Ollie Barder, a contributor at Forbes, pointed out that the case might not be universal, meaning different phones might need a different case.
Engadget further speculates that the smartphone Game Boy controller could be model-specific. As such, Nintendo’s controller might not work if someone were to update their smartphone.
If this were the case, however, gamers might not have an issue with buying a new smartphone Game Boy controller to fit new phones. After all, people buy new cases for their phones all the time even if they haven’t bought a new smartphone. If Nintendo’s Game Boy controller for smartphones were model-specific, its success might depend on how much the mobile gaming accessory costs.