Joypad


Joypad started as a fun weekend hack. I was playing Super Mario Bros. on my Mac and was frustrated with the keyboard controls. It was impossible to play with any precision and just didn't feel right. What I wanted was a physical controller in my hands.

I had just bought an iPhone and noticed that the size and shape was similar to the original NES controller. It was at this point that I came up with the idea to turn my smartphone into the gamepad.

That same day my cofounder and I started sketching and prototyping the first version of Joypad.

Early Sketches

Challenges

Touchscreen displays have no tactile feedback. To compensate for this I designed a layout with large rectangular buttons that are easy to hit and can be seen from your peripheral vision.

Another problem we had to overcome was lag. With a wired controller the time between a button press and the response on screen is instantaneous. The human eye catches any delay longer than 10-15 milliseconds. To solve this we developed a unique way to send packets over UDP that kept the lag under 10ms (as long as the player had a decent WiFi or Bluetooth connection).

Joypad Version 0.1

Icons & Branding

The word "joypad" also means game controller. Pretty early on I knew this would be a perfect name for the company and app. "Joypad" was short, catchy, and described the product.

For the App Store icons I used the familiar d-pad symbol. Anyone who played videos games would immediately recognize the shape which you see on almost every controller on the market.

App Store Icons

Retro Skins

The first version of Joypad was $1.99 but eventually we decided to remove all barriers and go free. This strategy paid off and got us to where we are today at over half a million downloads.

However, going free meant we needed another way to monetize. Many of our long time users had been requesting retro skins so we launched a mini store to purchase them individually or as a pack. The retro skin pack included: NES, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, and Nintendo Famicom.

Later on we introduced skins for specific games like Super Crate Box, Bee Leader, and League of Evil 2.

Retro Skins

Joypad SDK

At this point Joypad was already the number one game controller app on the App Store. However, there weren't enough gamers out there using emulators on Mac and PC. We needed to simplify the experience and reach a wider audience.

The Joypad SDK was our solution to the problem. Now developers could add Joypad support directly to their games. For users this meant no setup, improved controls, and new and exciting ways to play.

Through sales, developer outreach, and PR initiates we were able to integrate the Joypad SDK in over 100 games on desktop and iOS.

Custom Controller for League of Evil

Game Console

Now that developers were integrating our SDK we needed a central place where users could go to discover new titles. What we came up with was Joypad Game Console, an entire console experience on your iPad. It was a destination app where users could discover, download, and play all the Joypad enabled games in one place.

Joypad Game Console

Website

Since launching Joypad our marketing website has gone through numerous revisions (ten to be exact). The website was constantly evolving with our product.

On every version of the site I used video as a way to educate customers. Joypad has always been an app you need to see to believe, and demo videos were always the best tool for the job.

I designed and coded all ten versions of the site in HTML, PHP, CSS, and jQuery.