Mobile gaming has evolved a lot in a very short space of time. If we were writing this article as recently as three years ago, we’d laugh at the idea of anybody playing the same games on their phone as they were on their current-gen console. It would have seemed like a preposterous idea even with the technology available at the time. Now, with the mobile gaming sector earning more money every year and the 5G era starting, it’s no longer such an absurd idea. Mobile gaming is business – big business – and because of that, we’re starting to see a market emerge for specialist devices that make mobile gaming a little easier to get involved with.
Specialist devices weren’t really necessary in the early days of mobile gaming. Back in 2005, ‘mobile gaming’ didn’t go much further than a game of Snake or Tetris, and they could be played using the buttons that your phone came with. When internet connectivity started arriving as standard on new mobile handsets, it was the gambling industry that responded first. They were still in the early days of finding their way with online slots websites, but they quickly adapted to the new format and altered their online slots websites so they would work on smaller screens. Fast forward to today, and there are more people playing Playtech slots. That shows the potential for growth that exists in the market, and it’s not just online slots websites and their operators who are benefiting from it anymore. The world and its wife wants to get involved, and that’s why a company called BackBone has just launched a revolutionary new product called “One.”
Simply put, the Backbone one is a versatile controller that can be attached to your iPhone and make it much easier for you to play games. When the device is attached, your phone becomes a hand-held device similar to a Nintendo Switch, controlled with buttons and thumbsticks rather than clumsy attempts to make the touchscreen controls do what you want them to do. Anyone who’s tried to play “Fortnite” on a phone knows how difficult it can be to control your character when a touchscreen is all you have to work with. Devices like BackBone’s make the whole process a lot easier. This isn’t the first device to attempt to bridge the gap between phone and console, but based on the reviews we’ve seen thus far, it’s probably the best. So long as nobody calls you or messages you to distract you from the task at hand when you’re playing, the Backbone One apparently makes it easy to forget you’re playing games on your phone at all. It makes it feel like a totally different machine.
In terms of execution and appearance, the Backbone One looks similar to a PlayStation controller. Given that the PlayStation is the most popular console ever created and almost everybody has used a PlayStation controller at some point in their lives, that’s probably deliberate. There’s also room on the controller for a charging lead and a headphone connection without getting in the way of any of your buttons. If you want to plug in and play for hours at a time, this setup will give you the ability to do so.
There’s more to this controller than just the hardware. Like seemingly everything else in the modern age, the Backbone One comes with an app. You might wonder what the point of such a thing is. That’s a question we asked ourselves, too. The app acts as a wrapper for the games you want to play. It shuts out disturbances (goodbye calls and texts), allows screen capturing to happen, and also introduces social elements. You can make friends through the Backbone app, and you’ll be told when they’re online and interested in playing games with you. Players using the backbone app can chat with each other without the need for headphones – everything comes through your phone’s external speaker. Playing games the usual way by hooking up Backbone’s hardware is fun. Playing them through the app is better. So long as the game you want to play doesn’t object to being run through the app, there’s no reason not to use it.
The biggest drawback that the Backbone One currently faces is the device that the company has chosen to go with. These aren’t great times for gaming on the iPhone. Thanks to Apple’s long-running stand-off with Epic Games, iPhone users can’t currently enjoy the latest season of “Fortnite.” They might soon lose access to all of Epic’s other games, too. Apple has also found itself at an impasse with Google and doesn’t currently offer access to Stadia either. We recently found out that Facebook is preparing to launch a cloud gaming service in the near future. As you’ve probably guessed, that won’t be available to iPhone users either. Apple has been rubbing other tech companies up the wrong way recently, and the net result of the arguments that the company is involved in is that gamers don’t have as much freedom or choice as they would if they were playing games on Android devices. If the current situation doesn’t change soon, Backbone might find itself wishing that it had focused on developing a device to fit around Samsung or Google Pixel phones instead.
In fairness to Apple, not having access to Stadia, Facebook’s Cloud gaming service, or the latest products from Epic Gaming doesn’t mean that gaming on an iPhone can’t be fun. There are thousands of games available through iOS, and they’ll all be at your fingertips if you buy a Backbone One. There’s also Apple’s own “Apple Arcade” platform to consider, which Apple has promised major overhauls and developments for in the very near future. The Backbone One won’t fail because there aren’t enough games to play. If anything, it’s more likely that Apple will introduce a similar product of its own design and find a way to stop the Backbone device from working with its equipment. Hopefully, that won’t happen because, for $100, we think that the Backbone One looks like a worthwhile investment for serious mobile gamers.