Apple Gives the Gamevice a Major Retail Push

Big, big news for iOS gamers: Apple is in the middle of rolling out MFi game controller sections to all of their retail stores! You read that right – if you head down to the nearest Apple Store, you’ll probably be able to play with any of the current top-tier MFi controllers, right now. Most Apple Stores opened these gaming sections yesterday; the rest will be rolling them out throughout the week.

Apple Store Gaming Section with Controller Hands-on
Apple is giving iOS gaming its own featured section, sometimes even with a hands-on area

Every single Apple Store – all 465 locations – will be receiving a dedicated “gaming” space, highlighting the best available MFi controllers and recommended accessories. You’ve been able to buy MFi controllers in Apple Stores before, but they’ve never been collected together and presented as a platform before – this is a big deal for the ecosystem.

To be clear, this is a world-wide rollout, and it hits every single store, from the biggest flagships to the smallest mall outlets. Every Apple Store, everywhere, will have every top-tier MFi controller in-stock and in a dedicated section.

Standard Apple Store Controller Feature
Apple seems to be promoting the Gamevice in a big way

Giving gaming its own section is good, but it gets better. In addition to the gaming sections, many of the larger Apple Stores will feature usable Gamevice controllers, out of the box, connected to iPads loaded with games. This is important; I’ve always said that the most important thing Apple could do to promote MFi controllers is to actually let people use MFi controllers. Once gamers get a chance to play Minecraft on an iPad Mini connected to a Gamevice, the controller will sell itself.

Many Apple Stores already had the Horipad Ultimate and SteelSeries Nimbus controllers hooked up to the Apple TV. While that is great for TV gamers, but it doesn’t make it clear that these controllers work with iOS. This new section fixes that problem, and presents tvOS and iOS as a unified gaming platform – a great move, considering the iOS audience is tens of thousands of times larger than the Apple TV audience.

iOS Gaming in Genius Grove
Gaming is a defined section, separate from other accessories

I was curious about how knowledgeable Apple was about these controllers – when the MFi controller program first started, Apple retail employees generally had no idea what the controllers were. Chatting with a couple of the Apple Retail employees at the new Union Square Apple Store eased my worries – these people know a lot about MFi controllers. More than that, the people I talked to were enthusiastic iOS gamers – one employee was very much looking forward to the iPad Pro Gamevice for personal use.

This push with Gamevice represents one of Apple’s biggest commitments to the MFi controller program. Not only are they promoting a product exclusive to iOS, but for the first time, they’re stocking every single available Gamevice in every Apple Store – the iPhone, iPad Mini, and standard-sized iPad models are all available, with the iPad Pro model coming later this year. It’s a welcome sight, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.