The YC-Backed Coco Controller Will Turn Your iPhone Into A Gaming Powerhouse

Roll over, Sony, and tell Nintendo the news. The Coco Controller is a Kickstarter project that adds directional controls and game buttons to almost any phone, including the Galaxy SIII, iPhone, and most standard Android handsets. Created by Harvard drop-outs Connor Zwick and Colton Gyulay, the project aims to be a usable, useful addition to the mobile gamer’s arsenal.

The guys are YC-backed and they’ve opened a $150,000 convertible note. The Kickstarter project, however, is looking for $175,000 to build and distribute the controllers. They’ve raised $12,000 so far. A black or white Coco will cost $42 while a color Coco will cost $50.

From the project page:

coco has all of the physical buttons you’re used to, including both an analog stick and a directional pad. By having an analog stick as well as the d-pad, we make sure that you can play any game with the case – not just arcade games. And we’ve put special thought into the analog stick/d-pad combo. The analog stick is low profile, but provides great control and is comfortable to use. The directional pad is capable of 8 directions, but we’ve learned from past commercial controllers and it’s also super responsive when you only need 4. You can play pretty much any game in the app store that requires joysticks with this control scheme.

Developers have already enabled multiple games to work with the new system.

“I can tell you we have over 30 games already signed up before even having users and are talking to many other studios to bring their games on. In my biased opinion (but I really do think; check for yourself), I think we probably already have the best library of games supporting us of any control and it’s only going to get better in the next few months now that Coco is public,” said Zwick.

Zwick explained that the pair came up with the idea on a plane. They were frustrated with touchscreen gaming and created a proof of concept with an Arduino board. The current system has no battery – it’s powered through the headphone jack – and there is even an extender pack for iPads.

“I’ve spent the past two months designing something that could actually be manufactured (robust circuitry, plastic body, etc) and coordinating the manufacturing process while Colton’s been busy signing up games like crazy and creating a super simple SDK for as many platforms as he could for integrating our controller,” he said.

While it’s no dedicated handheld gaming console (as if anyone wanted one of those anymore), the Coco is quite clever and could finally crack iPhone gaming out of its casual gaming ghetto.

Project Page