Apple is once again rumored to be planning a game controller.
Citing developer sources, Pocket Gamer says Apple has been floating the idea of a physical controller to developers at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, which wraps up today. The publication adds that such a device would be unveiled at a press event next month.
Pocket Gamer's report says Apple actually has a space reserved at the show for meeting with developers, but that it's using a false name to fly under the radar.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the report, citing company policy.
Last April, a report from popular hardware site AnandTech noted that Apple had a controller project in the works, but that it might not ever make it to market. Adding to the intrigue of it all was a patent Apple applied for in 2008, depicting a dock that would allow iOS owners to add physical controls and other hardware features to devices.
Such hardware would be the first for Apple since its ill-fated Pippin home entertainment system of the late '90s. With its most recent crop of portable devices, Apple has eschewed physical controls in favor of on-screen software controls. That's made controlling games more customizable but also less ergonomic and responsive than would be the case with a physical controller.
Since the iPhone (and subsequent iOS devices), a handful of companies have created such physical buttons and controllers for portable devices. Many of those options use Bluetooth, though they also require game developers to get on board and add support for the hardware. Apple even sells some of these products -- including the iFling joystick -- in its stores.
Gaming has quickly become a major part of Apple's iTunes business since the launch of the App Store. Games make up the majority of the more than 800,000 apps available there, and games are consistently the top paid and grossing apps.
Updated at 1 p.m. with comment from Apple.