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Digital and social game publisher Gameloft and Duo Games, a unit of Seattle-based Discovery Bay Games, unveiled the first Apple-approved handheld game controller that can connect to iOS devices and essentially turn your iPad into a gaming console. 

The Duo Gamer is bluetooth-enabled, takes two AA-batteries and mimics a typical six-button gaming controller with dual analog thumb-sticks and shoulder buttons. Users can dock an iOS device to a stand and begin playing immediately. Those who enjoy a bigger screen can connect their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to a TV.

The Duo Gamer, which is compatible only with Gameloft-specific games, goes for $79.99 and is available now at Amazon, Target and (starting Oct. 5th). Discovery Bay has already developed a Duo-powered controller for classic Atari arcade games, as well as a $40 “Let’s Play Backpack” accessory with the theme of Dora the Explorer. 

Currently, the Duo Gamer works with five games: Asphalt 7: Heat, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, N.O.V.A 3, and Order & Chaos Online.

“We’ve worked closely with Gameloft to ensure that Duo Gamer is optimized to the fullest extent for their rich, immersive game apps,” said Mike Sievert, CEO of Duo Games, in a press release. “By providing gamers with the first and only console-style gamepad controller for iOS, we are giving them the ability to enjoy a ‘kick back’ experience while still harnessing the power and graphics capabilities that iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch offer. This will be a game-changer.”

Sievert is a former Microsoft and Clearwire executive. He joined Discovery Bay in May and helped the Seattle company raise $15 million last month to continue development of its Duo accessories, devices that combine digital and physical gameplay in new ways.

In total, Discovery Bay has raised about $40 million. The company, which was founded in 2006 as a traditional board game maker, laid off an unspecified number of staffers in June.

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