Update: The extremely reliable Jim Dalrymple of The Loop has weighed in on the matter, saying, "Nope."
Pictured: The Apple IIe Joystick (via My Old Computers)
Multiple sources at the 2013 Game Developers Conference have told Pocket Gamer that, in secret meetings at the San Francisco, Calif., convention, Apple representatives have been talking to developers about the company's plans and lining up developers so that the gaming peripheral will enjoy wide support upon its release. The notoriously secretive iPad maker is said to be operating at GDC under a pseudonym in order to avoid media attention.
Details on the form factor of the controller are unknown. Also unknown is when gamers could expect such a device to be unveiled. Current speculation points to an April event focusing on the iPad or perhaps Apple's longtime "hobby" of "intense interest," the Apple TV.
Should Apple's rumored controller be unveiled alongside an updated Apple TV, such an event would largely confirm earlier rumors that Apple was preparing to make a push to turn its "hobby" into a much bigger pillar within the company. Those rumors had Apple revealing a standard development kit (SDK) and possibly opening the App Store for operation on its set-top box, two elements that would likely be necessary were Apple to release a controller for iOS/Apple TV gaming.
Apple's iOS devices have in short time become a major platform for game development, with games from previously unknown developers going on to sell in the millions of copies. The touchscreen form factor of the devices, though, has to some extent kept them from functioning as serious, dedicated gaming platforms.
Some major developers have introduced ports of successful titles for Apple's devices, specially crafted to suit the touchscreen. These titles, though, tend to be from a limited range of game genres.
The introduction of a controller would open iOS or Apple TV to a wider span of titles, and ? taken in conjunction with the popularity of Apple devices ? could reshape the gaming landscape in a short period of time. Noted gaming figures, including the designer of Microsoft's Xbox and Valve's Gabe Newell, have pointed out that the traditional gaming heavyweights would likely be in trouble should Apple decide to get into the gaming hardware industry in a bigger fashion.
Apple won't be the only company looking to disrupt the gaming industry in the near future. Chief rival Samsung, while introducing the Galaxy S4, also unveiled a physical controller much in the vein of Microsoft's standard Xbox controller. Also, upstart gaming company Ouya has begun shipping its eponymous, Android-based game console with the hopes of bringing the emotional element of traditional console gaming back in the increasingly mobile-dominated game sector.