Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of smartphones and mobile phones, has finally rolled out its long-awaited GamePad accessory and application that transform a broad range of its mobile devices into game consoles. While the device clearly offers an alternative dedicated portable game consoles, it supports a limited set of games, which will limit its popularity among core gamers.
The Samsung GamePad that the company introduced this week is a different product than it showcased earlier this year. The new design seems to be more intuitive and easier to use, which is clearly a positive step. The new GamePad is compatible with Samsung Galaxy smartphones with 4” or 6.3” displays running Android 4.3, such as Galaxy Note 3, S4, Note II, and S III. In addition, the game pad can work with Samsung tablets. The GamePad connects to other devices using Bluetooth v3.0, or NFC 3.0 class 2 with HID technology.
The Game Pad accessory features two analog sticks, shoulder keys, four action buttons, eight-way D-pad, Select button and start button. The accessory fixes smartphone into a special frame for maximum convenience, but can also just control the gaming process wirelessly.
With just a tap of the “Play” button, users can access the Mobile Console app, Samsung’s new integrated game launching app that opens in conjunction with GamePad to allow users to conveniently browse and purchase GamePad supported games. The Mobile Console features games across a variety of categories including traditional racing titles such as EA’s Need for Speed Most Wanted and Gameloft’s Asphalt8: Airborne, first-person shooter titles such as Gameloft’s Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, sports titles such as SEGA’s Virtua Tennis Challenge, and action titles such as Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia : The Shadow and the Flame. The Mobile Console app offers 35 dedicated games at launch with much more to come in 2014.
Given the fact that the latest smartphones from Samsung – such as Galaxy Note III or Galaxy S4 pack massive amount of horsepower, the handsets can easily compete against dedicated consoles in terms of performance. The controls akin to those on video game consoles are expected to make smartphones considerably more competitive against dedicated game consoles among the core gamers, who play a lot and prefer to have solid control options.
While such expectations have grounds as games for mobile devices are improving, it should be noted that there are still no titles with multi-hour gameplay for such platforms, but there are such games for PlayStation Vita/Portable and Nintendo 3DS/DS. In fact, it is high-quality games that attract core gamers to dedicated consoles, not the presence of a D-pad and analog sticks. Moreover, with only 35 titles currently supported by Samsung GamePad, it is hard to imagine that the device will attract a lot of attention unless Samsung deliberately asks game developers to make exclusive titles with multi-hour gameplay its accessory in mind.
The GamePad is is currently available in select European markets and will be available in additional regions in the coming weeks. The availability of the GamePad varies by market. At present different stories in Europe sell two different Samsung GamePads: the new GamePad EI-GP20HNB is available starting at €57.89 ($79.54) and the previously introduced EI-GP10NNB starting at €81.90 ($112.7).