Moga game controller attempts to bring console gaming experience to mobile

Mobile games are becoming increasingly  more powerful with high fidelity graphics and home console-like gameplay, but lack the controls akin to home consoles. PowerA attempts to bring improved control to mobile games with its Moga controller attachment for Android smartphones. We recently sat down with PowerA for a hands-on demo with the Android-based controller.

Gaming accessory manufacturer PowerA’s Moga gaming controller features a flip mechanized arm that’s adjustable to fit different compatible Android handsets (Android 2.3 Gingerbread or higher versions), a rubberized underbelly with ribbed grips, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, two analog sticks that felt like the Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad, start and select buttons, two shoulder buttons, four face buttons and 18 hours of battery life with 2 AAA batteries. When a phone is attached to the Moga (our demo used a Samsung Galaxy S III) it makes the Moga feel weighted and balanced. When a phone isn’t attached to the Moga, the controller is portable and can fit in a user’s pocket.

Power A has also created its own app store called the Pivot app for users to see all the Moga-enabled apps in one place. The Pivot app could potentially help developers fight discoverability because there’s less apps to compete against in the Pivot app, and since the apps point back to Google Play, developers can get their apps noticed more in Google’s app store. Also, since Moga utilizes Bluetooth connectivity and the Pivot app to play games, Moga also works for Android tablets.

PowerA’s freely provided SDK allows developers to add controls to existing apps in a short amount of time. PowerA suggested that developers could potentially create more complex games from the ground up with Moga and charge more for their app.

What differentiates the Woodinville, Wash.-based company’s device from its competitors like Discovery Bay Games’ Duo Gamer controller is that Moga works for multiple mobile games from multiple publishers and developers, not just with one game or select titles from one publisher or developer.

Inside Mobile Apps got their hands on Pac-Man and although it only uses just one analog stick, it worked nicely. Other Moga-enabled titles we played included The Dark Knight Rises, Riptide GP and Virtua Tennis Challenge. Publishers that PowerA has on board for Moga so far include Atari, Sega, Namco, Gameloft, Remedy Entertainment and more.

The focus right now for PoweraA is to build an install base with existing mobile games adding Moga control, but there are Android titles being developed that are built for Moga from the ground up. Eventually, PowerA wants to get Moga on iOS and are in conversations with Apple right now.

Moga launches on Oct. 21 for $50 and will be boxed with the controller, free Pivot app download, soft case for the device and two free games–Sonic CD and Pac-Man–as part of a limited time offer. The device will be available in more than 7,000 stores at retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Target and more as well as from phone carriers such as T-Mobile. Backed by a multimillion dollar launch plan, interactive displays will be set up at 1,500 retail stores as well. PowerA plans to have about 30-40 titles at launch and add more each week.