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CES 2013: Duo Gamer controller sees success after a half price cut

We posted about the Duo Gamer iPhone controller back when it first released in October of last year, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to try it out yet. Fortunately, Duo is here on the floor of CES this week, and they of course had the controller on display and available for a demo.

It’s actually a really great controller — the form factor is a little strange, but the buttons are quite responsive and the analog sticks are especially impressive, something that not a lot of iOS controllers have gotten right. Plus, the Duo Gamer is actually half the price it was when it started out. The company dropped the price from US$79.99 to just $39.99 late last year, and the company’s rep says that (surprise) sales have gone up considerably since the price drop.

So where’s the catch? The biggest problem with the Duo Gamer is that because Duo has made a deal with Gameloft, this controller only works with Gameloft’s games. Those games aren’t bad — they include big iOS hits like NOVA, the Asphalt series and Gameloft’s Warcraft clone Order and Chaos Online. But that’s it — if you want to use the controller with any other titles, you’re out of luck.

That’s kind of a shame. And Duo’s representative told us that there were absolutely no plans to open up the controller at all. The company picked Gameloft to pair up with because it believed those were the most console-like apps on the store (not necessarily an invalid claim), and Duo says that even if it wanted to allow other app developers to make their apps compatible with the Duo Gamer, that decision would be out of their hands.

Which is too bad — it’d be nice if a solid controller like this had a more open API (stay tuned for news on the Phone Halo controller, which has a slightly more promising future). The Duo Gamer is a good piece of hardware, and it provides an impressive way to control these games. If you’re a fan of Gameloft’s titles and would like to use some buttons to control them, this is obviously a great option for you.