Game Development Reference
The Death of the D-Pad
Phill Ryu of Impending Studios has a bold prediction about the console-style directional pad that is still fairly
common in many iOS games. “I don't think the onscreen virtual D-pad is going to exist in any of the top 50
popular iOS games in two years,” he says. His reasoning as a designer and a market observer: “If you want
a great user experience for your players, direct manipulation in your interface and controls is huge. There's
already been a developing allergy of games with onscreen controls crowding the screen and complicated HUDs,
and this backlash is going to grow.”
NOTE “People are going to expect native experiences on their devices, and they have a right to five years
in,” says Phill Ryu.
If I can add to Ryu's point (I am the author after all): children who first experienced the iPhone at 5 years
old in 2007 are now 10, and in the next few years, they will become a major sector of the gaming market (see
Figure 14-4: This is who you're designing future iOS games for. Do you think he wants a D-pad? (Pictured:
Author's nephew Henry Oesterle.)
Not only are kids likely to have little sentimental affection for old school, handheld game console-style con-
trols, for many of them, the iOS has been their only handheld game console.