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SteelSeries debuts 'Stratus' MFi-certified Bluetooth game controller

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
PC gaming peripheral maker SteelSeries on Monday took the covers off of a new Made for iPhone game controller that connects to iOS devices wirelessly over Bluetooth, the first of its kind.

SteelSeries Stratus


Unlike competitive devices from Moga and Logitech, SteelSeries's Stratus is designed as a standalone controller, rather than one that wraps around the user's device. Not only does this mean the Stratus can be used as a game controller for iPad, but also for older devices that do not use Apple's Lightning connector --?like an iPhone 4s running iOS 7 --?as well as future models that may not share the iPhone 5's form factor.

The Stratus uses Apple's "extended" controller layout, providing gamers with a directional pad, four action buttons and four shoulder buttons alongside dual analog sticks. SteelSeries says an integrated battery can power the gamepad for approximately 10 hours on a full charge and can be topped up via USB in around 2 hours.



Up to four Stratus controllers can be connected to a single iOS device for use in multiplayer games and Wiimote-like LED lights help players determine which controller is which.

"With Stratus, gamers have easy and direct access to a growing roster of great games on iPad that were intended for an immersive, controller-enabled experience," SteelSeries CEO Bruce Hawver said in a release announcing the device. "We're incredibly excited to be the first gaming peripherals company to develop a standalone controller for iOS devices and are thrilled to see an abundance of high quality game titles rolling out from publishers everyday."

The SteelSeries Stratus comes in both black and white and is available for pre-order today from the company's website for $99.99.
post #2 of 20
Finally, a proper iOS bluetooth controller. Besides not knowing its ergonomics/build quality, the price is very steep. PS3 controllers which this is akin to are $50, the more advanced ps4 controller is about $70. I think $70-75 should be the most they could get away with charging.

Now if only apple quits the ATV and replaces it with a screenless ipad... (or bring full iOS to ATV) that will support these devices and other iOS devices as controllers. I think nintendo would quake in their booties...
post #3 of 20
Originally Posted by frogbat View Post
Now if only apple quits the ATV and replaces it with a screenless ipad... (or bring full iOS to ATV) that will support these devices and other iOS devices as controllers. I think nintendo would quake in their booties...

 

That’s just crazy.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #4 of 20
Nice but for $100?
post #5 of 20
"Now if only apple quits the ATV and replaces it with a screen less iPad"

That's what the Apple TV is already; a screen-less, battery-less iPod Touch with optical audio & HDMI.
post #6 of 20
I can't understand why anyone would want a separate controller unless the game was being streamed to the AppleTV. Especially for an iPhone. Let's carry around an accessory that's twice as big as the phone and figure out some way to prop the phone so you can use the controller. This might be the best iOS compatible controller so far but that's not really something to brag about right now. And their commercial is ridiculous. Two teenagers huddled around the tiny iPad screen wearing huge headphones because the iPad speaker is crap. Yep, that certainly inspires me to rush out and buy one.
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

I can't understand why anyone would want a separate controller unless the game was being streamed to the AppleTV. Especially for an iPhone. Let's carry around an accessory that's twice as big as the phone and figure out some way to prop the phone so you can use the controller. This might be the best iOS compatible controller so far but that's not really something to brag about right now. And their commercial is ridiculous. Two teenagers huddled around the tiny iPad screen wearing huge headphones because the iPad speaker is crap. Yep, that certainly inspires me to rush out and buy one.

Sorry, but "I don't understand why anyone would want . . ." is the worst way to approach any new Apple ecosystem device, providing it works at all.

There can always be someone who can find a use that no one else thought of. Your approach could be called the "just a bigger iPod touch" syndrome that we saw when the first iPad was announced.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Sorry, but "I don't understand why anyone would want . . ." is the worst way to approach any new Apple ecosystem device, providing it works at all.

There can always be someone who can find a use that no one else thought of. Your approach could be called the "just a bigger iPod touch" syndrome that we saw when the first iPad was announced.

It's a game controller. It's purpose is already strictly defined. I imagine it could be implemented in apps that aren't actually games, like anatomy apps allowing you to navigate the human body with the controller, but that still doesn't make it any less ridiculous to carry around a large controller for use with an iPhone.

And beyond limitations Apple puts on the iPod touch, the iPad is pretty much just a larger device. Which isn't a bad thing. If my iPad could make phone calls I'd ditch my iPhone in a second.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

It's a game controller. It's purpose is already strictly defined. I imagine it could be implemented in apps that aren't actually games, like anatomy apps allowing you to navigate the human body with the controller, but that still doesn't make it any less ridiculous to carry around a large controller for use with an iPhone.

And beyond limitations Apple puts on the iPod touch, the iPad is pretty much just a larger device. Which isn't a bad thing. If my iPad could make phone calls I'd ditch my iPhone in a second.

Yep, something like interactive education on the iPad would be an example, or using two controllers to play musical duets, that kind of thing. Developers are going to find something new here.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

I can't understand why anyone would want a separate controller

- it means it can be used with an iPad (like in the video) and the controller shared between multiple devices
- it means multiplayer with one iOS device (like in the video)
- it means you don't have to clip on/off the controller each time you want to play
- if a new device form factor comes out, you don't need a new controller

IMO, this is the best controller out of the 3 that exist. 10 hour battery life is decent enough too, especially with a 2 hour charge time. $100 is still a bit expensive but I'd say it's more justifiable here than the other controllers as it's wireless. It would have been good to have a headphone jack on the controller but an extension cord will do the job.

This is a great setup for kids in the back of a car because the iPad can go on the head rest and the kid can sit with the controller.

NVidia showed off their latest Tegra K1 at CES and Unreal 4:




Now that the controllers are mostly taken care of, there needs to be more games to take advantage of them. They are saying that K1 with 192 cores brings it in line with standard PCs so porting high-end games over should be easier. If the PowerVR GPUs Apple's using can do this already, it's time for developers to start getting the games out.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JP55 View Post

"Now if only apple quits the ATV and replaces it with a screen less iPad"

That's what the Apple TV is already; a screen-less, battery-less iPod Touch with optical audio & HDMI.

Yeah sorry, 'twas a little joke. My point is that a controller such as this is best aimed at use with consoles. The Apple TV is the closest thing apple has to console. And though as you imply it already is a screen less ipad, it doesn't run iOS. I have a suspicion that this spec was aimed at catering for future developments in the living room arena from apple.
post #12 of 20
Ok, so yes, it's expensive as are the others right now. I read the review on Touch Arcade. Some things were very good, and others not so good. But I think that overall, this is worth buying, even with the so far, slim game support. I have no doubt that it will substantionally increase. But for that to happen more quickly, people have to show that it matters to them.

Despite the thinking in Touch arcade that this pricing is somehow motivated by Apple, I think it's more a case of a first generation product that might not see great sales, and that seeing generation models will cost less.

I was disappointed by the other models needing to be plugged in. That ruins the entire point to external controllers for the iPad, and limits them to the phone. A major mistake, in my opinion. I had thought that the Moga, in its pushed together mode, would have allowed a wireless connection to the iPad, but no. So this is the first model that allows that.

As for the small, and somewhat uncomfortable feel because of that, well, I can only say that there are other mobile controllers that are no better, and that the Nintendo mobile devices have always felt crappy, and yet, that hasn't stopped people from buying them.

So when there are dozens, nu depress, and hopefully, thousands of games taking advantage of Apple's new API's, controllers, small as many may be, will see sales take off.

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy this one.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

- it means it can be used with an iPad (like in the video) and the controller shared between multiple devices
- it means multiplayer with one iOS device (like in the video)
- it means you don't have to clip on/off the controller each time you want to play
- if a new device form factor comes out, you don't need a new controller

IMO, this is the best controller out of the 3 that exist. 10 hour battery life is decent enough too, especially with a 2 hour charge time. $100 is still a bit expensive but I'd say it's more justifiable here than the other controllers as it's wireless. It would have been good to have a headphone jack on the controller but an extension cord will do the job.

This is a great setup for kids in the back of a car because the iPad can go on the head rest and the kid can sit with the controller.

NVidia showed off their latest Tegra K1 at CES and Unreal 4:




Now that the controllers are mostly taken care of, there needs to be more games to take advantage of them. They are saying that K1 with 192 cores brings it in line with standard PCs so porting high-end games over should be easier. If the PowerVR GPUs Apple's using can do this already, it's time for developers to start getting the games out.

It's a chicken and the egg sort of thing. I think that developers are somewhat excited, or at least interested in this. But unless they see people willi g to buy a controller, they may not rush into it, as a few have done so far. Apple says it's easy, but as usual, it's more complex than that.

Apple required that games retain the on screen controls for those not buying a controller, even if they can be hidden when a controller is used. That's difficult. I believe that games need to be written, from the ground up, to either work one way or the other. There are things you can't do with on screen controls, and things you can't do with a controller.

That makes decisions as to how to write the game more difficult. Do you bias it one way, or the other? You really can't have it both ways without making development more time consuming, and expensive. And even so, there will still be things that only really work with touch, and others that will only really work with a controller. Then, there will be two different types of game in one, and a gamer may prefer one thing over the other, and not be happy that both aren't available either way.

It will take developers some time to figure this out. So it's not just a matter of a few lines of code, it could be a major rewrite for some games, and the more complex the game, the more of a rewrite.
post #14 of 20

I think Bluetooth is the correct way to do a controller (or a keyboard, or a mouse) for the iPad. I never understood those clip in units, I honestly thought it was some kind of deliberate retro styling, only a semi-serious product.

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by frogbat View Post


Yeah sorry, 'twas a little joke. My point is that a controller such as this is best aimed at use with consoles. The Apple TV is the closest thing apple has to console. And though as you imply it already is a screen less ipad, it doesn't run iOS. I have a suspicion that this spec was aimed at catering for future developments in the living room arena from apple.

Think you'll find you're wrong about Apple TV not using iOS.

post #16 of 20
Without an SDK and App Store it's an embedded OS, and iOS in name only.

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post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I think that developers are somewhat excited, or at least interested in this. But unless they see people willi g to buy a controller, they may not rush into it, as a few have done so far.

Apple required that games retain the on screen controls for those not buying a controller, even if they can be hidden when a controller is used. That's difficult. I believe that games need to be written, from the ground up, to either work one way or the other. There are things you can't do with on screen controls, and things you can't do with a controller.

That makes decisions as to how to write the game more difficult. Do you bias it one way, or the other? You really can't have it both ways without making development more time consuming, and expensive. And even so, there will still be things that only really work with touch, and others that will only really work with a controller. Then, there will be two different types of game in one, and a gamer may prefer one thing over the other, and not be happy that both aren't available either way.

It will take developers some time to figure this out. So it's not just a matter of a few lines of code, it could be a major rewrite for some games, and the more complex the game, the more of a rewrite.

I think Apple should have made their own controller instead of a spec for others to follow because as you say, support for the controller depends on how well customers adopt 3rd party options and not all games work the same with all controllers.

I also think the controller should have been like this:



The Steam controller uses touch pads and it has a direct mapping to the display. Apple's would be just like the Magic Trackpad but with four analog shoulder buttons and a flat Lithium Ion battery at the back, chargeable via their USB chargers. The trackpad is bluetooth, lasts weeks and costs $69. The flat design is easily pocketable. The direct mapping would allow you to play touch games like Fruit Ninja.

Their minimal design could have been to just have the buttons like so:



If Apple was making the standalone controllers and 3rd parties could do clip-on ones, they'd have better adoption and it would be easier for developers to work to that standard. It would also trivially allow people to use iPods/iPhones as controllers for iPads.

People will debate about the lack of buttons but I've covered that in the past and with gyro/accelerometer/gestures, it can replicate almost as many unique inputs as a 360 controller. The Steam controller uses trackpads so it works fine for gaming, it just takes getting used to.

It would help if they had a proper program for games too like Games for Windows. In order to qualify for the label, they need to support the 360 controller. Apple should at the very least have a label in the App Store that flags apps supporting controllers and be able to find supporting titles easily.
post #18 of 20
No. If I'm playing games for any significant length of time and with any kind of action intensity where I'm gripping the pad the last thing I want is a slate. I want grips and contours that my hands can fit round. Minimalist elegance here would be horribly uncomfortable; Apple would do better to learn from existing controllers.

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post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Without an SDK and App Store it's an embedded OS, and iOS in name only.

 

 

yep indeed. The UI on ATV resides over a version of iOS. That is not the same full iOS we find on other devices. I believe that the original ATV ran a version of OS X but I don't think anyone ever insinuated it was the same thing.

 

re the controllers, I like the slickness of the button free designs, however I still think they really need the 2 analogue stick approach to make inroads. I'm used to the PS controller and i enjoy certain games on my iPad but certain games i can't imagine playing without traditional controllers like my footy games. Likewise there are certain games i cant imagine playing without a motion controller or a touch screen.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I think Apple should have made their own controller instead of a spec for others to follow because as you say, support for the controller depends on how well customers adopt 3rd party options and not all games work the same with all controllers.

I also think the controller should have been like this:



The Steam controller uses touch pads and it has a direct mapping to the display. Apple's would be just like the Magic Trackpad but with four analog shoulder buttons and a flat Lithium Ion battery at the back, chargeable via their USB chargers. The trackpad is bluetooth, lasts weeks and costs $69. The flat design is easily pocketable. The direct mapping would allow you to play touch games like Fruit Ninja.

Their minimal design could have been to just have the buttons like so:



If Apple was making the standalone controllers and 3rd parties could do clip-on ones, they'd have better adoption and it would be easier for developers to work to that standard. It would also trivially allow people to use iPods/iPhones as controllers for iPads.

People will debate about the lack of buttons but I've covered that in the past and with gyro/accelerometer/gestures, it can replicate almost as many unique inputs as a 360 controller. The Steam controller uses trackpads so it works fine for gaming, it just takes getting used to.

It would help if they had a proper program for games too like Games for Windows. In order to qualify for the label, they need to support the 360 controller. Apple should at the very least have a label in the App Store that flags apps supporting controllers and be able to find supporting titles easily.

I guess I would like to see Apple do one. It could be interesting. But now there's a standard set of API's for this that Apple introduced. So controllers should do the same things the same way, and games should see them the same way as they do in PC games, and console games. I would imagine that Apple will make sure they all work the same way.
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