These days, it’s actually hard to find a major VR platform that doesn’t support motion controls. HTC Vive launched with them included, Oculus released its Touch controllers in December 2016, and Microsoft announced in May that it made its own motion controllers for Windows Mixed Reality devices. But motion controls aren’t necessarily ideal for all VR games, and that’s why Nyko made the PlayPad VR gaming controller for Samsung’s Gear VR.
Samsung updated the Gear VR in April with a new motion controller. It’s more limited than other controllers–you get only one, for example, and it has fewer inputs than its competitors–but it still opened up a new world of possibilities for Gear VR owners. The PlayPad VR is supposed to make it easier to carry around a full gamepad with two analog sticks, a d-pad, four face buttons, etc. for when the new Controller doesn’t quite cut it.
“PlayPad VR for Gear VR with Controller is built from our experience creating multiple generations of wireless gaming controllers for Android,” said Chris Arbogast, Director of Sales and Marketing at Nyko, in a press release. “As an officially licensed partner to Samsung, we’re able to combine our expertise with their deep understanding of the Gear VR with Controller’s design and gameplay experience to offer all the benefits of a console controller. We look forward to supporting Gear VR with Controller’s continued momentum and market success worldwide.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the PlayPad VR is its ability to snap into the Gear VR itself. When you aren’t using it, all you have to do is attach it to the headset. This should make it easier to carry around than more traditional gamepads, and unless Nyko’s pictures are deceiving, it doesn’t look like the PlayPad VR will be too heavy to leave in the headset while you’re wearing it. (Detailed specs weren’t available at press time.)
We do have concerns about the controller’s shape, however. Nyko claimed it has an ergonomic design, but snapping it into the Gear VR requires it to be mostly flat, which could make it uncomfortable to use for extended play sessions. Traditional controllers are shaped the way they are for good reason–all their curves, bulges, and contours are supposed to help make sure your hands don’t cramp while you’re playing some games.
Nyko plans to show off the PlayPad VR at E3, however, so conference attendees will be able to find out how well it works themselves. The PlayPad VR will debut “later this year” with an MSRP of $50. That’s $10 more than Samsung’s motion controller, but it’s a bit cheaper than traditional gamepads like Microsoft’s Xbox One controller or Sony’s DualShock 4.