06
Nov
atlascontroller

Hey, does the idea of another company making another proprietary game controller for games that require compatibility with said controller in order to work excite you? No? Me neither. But GreenThrottle, a new startup co-founded by Guitar Hero co-creator Charles Huang and two ex-Palm employees wants you to get excited.

Oh man, they're having so much fun - how could this idea ever not be a success?

Sarcasm aside, GreenThrottle does have the benefit of a more serious team leading its gamepad project, but compared to every other controller / TV  gaming solution I've seen, this seems to bring nothing new to the table. GreenThrottle's ace in the hole, though, is that it's promising to develop first-party games and a TV-optimized app ("Arena") for its platform to get the ball rolling... sort of like Ouya.

It's currently offering developers a hardware SDK pack (starting at $44.95 for one gamepad) to make games compatible with the Atlas controller before the product launches. For the time being, only Unity engine games will work with the GreenThrottle SDK, but the team plans to add support for more languages over time. The controller, which is basically an Xbox gamepad clone, communicates with your Android device via Bluetooth. Being a TV-oriented gaming solution, the GreenThrottle platform is only compatible with phones that support HDMI-out via MHL or microHDMI connectivity, yet another barrier to entry.

controlelr

But really, the biggest problem with this project (and Ouya) isn't technical. It's that even if those few first-party games emerge, and even if they're actually any good (a much bigger "if"), you're almost certainly asking someone to spend more money on the hardware up front than will be worth it with the launch selection of titles. This is why the home console market is a three-horse race: the money needed for a successful launch is massive. If you can't get the good titles lined up quickly after release, no one's going to want to buy into your platform, even if your platform is just a controller and an app (with the requirement of an HDMI / MHL cable and compatible device).

We've seen numerous companies pitch their ideas for a smartphone or tablet-powered TV gaming solution, on the premise of "consolidation" of the technology in our pockets. It must be alluring for enterprising individuals, the smartphone and the TV, two things most people already have, negating the costly requirement of developing a console - all you need is a controller and a storefront. We have never seen one of these systems succeed commercially or, frankly, come close to it. And lackluster developer support is almost always the smoking gun.

Is there hope that GreenThrottle may be the disruptive force that changes the smartphone-to-TV gaming landscape into a real industry? At this point, I'm not holding my breath.

GreenThrottle

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Sascha Wycisk

    i hope google creates some sort of gamecontroller profil for android soon :/

    • Eye4Detail

      ^This. We won't see anything truly worthwhile until Google creates a standard framework for Android controllers and gives developers an API that they can easily drop into their games to make them work well with any "Android compatible" controller. Unfortunately, the theme seems to be less buttons, not more but maybe now that they're incorporating Miracast into Android 4.2, they'll start exploring this space more (to add overall value to TV streaming.)

      • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

        I can dig the push to less buttons for general UI use, but you can make a strong case for specialized input methods like a game controller. They've already been slowly adding better support for keyboard/mouse input as well as various usb devices.

    • Sergii Pylypenko

      Just make a controller which advertises itself as a Bluetooth keyboard, with the same key mapping as Xperia Play. That kind of device is immediately supported by any Android 2.3+ phone, and by lot of games, which are Xperia Play optimized. That's what Gametel controller did. You won't be getting analog joystick support this way though.

  • GraveUypo

    compatibility issues aside, this is where i'm hoping console gaming is headed ever since i got my hands on my first android device.

    • http://twitter.com/ElimentalD Ed Limental

      Or someone like Sony can move off its resting spot and create a decent Xperia Play with high end specs and HDMI output. The best part would be that you carry your controller + console with you.

      The Playstation SDK already caters for the API's and SDK is available already. If they bring out a proper PS Phone they can actually cash in big time. As for other OEM's the PlayStation certification is open for them to apply. Guess they to scared it would eat at their VITA market.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

    Good thing that apple doesn't own that controller. (Sure looks like an xbox 360 one)

  • Itchy_Robot

    My Verizon S3 gets terrible frame rates with the MHL adapter hooked up to my 47" HDTV.

    • Eye4Detail

      Might be your adapter, they can be hit or miss. Make sure you get one that supports full 1080p output. A lot of them don't and I've seen a big difference in (image and frame rate) quality between them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001482286220 Karan Ocs

        can u name one?!
        i want one for my One X!
        i'm sure that it can support 1080P via MHL but i can't right now!

        • Eye4Detail

          Not off the top of my head (mine's a no-name) but if you look through the reviews on Amazon, people get pretty vocal when they get one that doesn't support 1080p or that lags the frame rate.

      • Itchy_Robot

        It is the official Samsung adapter for the S3. It's a known issue for displays over 45" (see Amazon reviews). Unfortunately I didn't find out about it until it was too late =(

        • Eye4Detail

          Ahhh, got it.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      same. it's really frustrating, because it's almost perfect. i have a third party mhl adapter, but i've heard the same for the official one. i wonder if the international quad-core version is better, or if overclocking would help, and am hoping jelly bean fixes it somehow.

      • Itchy_Robot

        Ditto on hoping JBean fixes it. Also on turning the screen off. Why on earth would they not have that option? It just wastes energy.

  • master94

    Pretty cool. I think Ouya will go farther since it has the support of the DEvs, but competition is always good.

  • Harvz

    Why would i go for this over just getting a PS3 controller?
    Serious question though, im really not sure.

  • SleepIT

    Too bad for the rest of us normal people that actually use our phone to make and receive calls!!!

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      ok, grampa :-P

  • 27yearold

    droid 4 comes with one - it's called qwerty. primitive screen only phones would wish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/francois.roy.3958 Francois Roy

    The iMpulse is SOOOOO much better in every way..

  • Tyler

    The only way this would work is if they could get it to work with xbox and phones. Consumers are going to be more likely to buy something that if I doesn't succeed they can just use it with their xbox. Removes buyers remorse, unless its has horrible build quality.

  • http://twitter.com/ElectroGadget ElectroGadget

    Or you know, buy a MHL cable and connect a PS3 controller. Done.

  • MeganSCS

    I understand the concept and good for a company trying to do something different. Personally, I have loved the console experience since Atari and now today with XBOX and Sony I have great games and find it quite reasonable to shell out the money for the hardware. Is what is offered from Green Throttle going to compete with the Blacks Ops or Maddens of the world? Most likely they won't. With a console there is an upfront cost but for the last 2 decades it has been worth. Great games, great online support, great multi-use hardware, etc.

    Until someone comes out fully swinging with something I can't imagine shelling out money for something that could be gone in a year.

  • GazaIan

    Oh yay, another controller.

  • raindog469

    So let's see... anyone can already pay $40 at Gamestop or Best Buy for a Nyko PlayPad Pro or Madcatz MOGA, both of which can be used with existing games, or we can use our existing Xbox controllers with the $5 Joystick Center app to play existing games (which is what I've been using for a while now), or a PS3 controller with the $2 Sixaxis app, or a fully programmable and backward-compatible iControlPad2 with a built-in QWERTY thumbboard for $70... or this thing, with essentially no app support, for $45.

    And these guys are seriously getting money out of investors?