Gamers need great controls, and frankly the controls on touch screen games stink. Racing game on touch screen vs racing game on console with Xbox S controls or steering wheel? I'm choosing the console.
I remember a time when people said the same thing about smart phone keyboards:
"... to be useful to professionals, a smart phone must have a physical keyboard" went the conventional wisdom
And so the standard bearer for making the best smartphone keyboards was RIM, and everyone benchmarked their mobile devices against the Blackberry keyboard
... until the iPhone and several Android devices arrived and showed that one could approximate the physical keyboard productivity using an on screen touch screen keyboard.
Of course a touch screen keyboard will never be able to emulate the feel, responsiveness and feedback of a physical keyboard... the same can be said for virtual game controls on a touch screen device.
However, people that emphasise this aspect of physical game controls are under the same misapprehension that RIM, Palm, Microsoft, Nokia and their ilk were under when they convinced themselves that the original iPhone could never be a serious contender without a "real" keyboard - based on research showing how important smartphone users rated the quality of the keyboard to be in their decision making process.
From the CD to MP3, Email to Twitter and physical keyboards to virtual keyboards... we have seen a gradual dumbing down of what mankind finds to be of acceptable standard or quality. The virtual game controls (and they don't have to be touch screen... we have seen interesting game controls using gyros and motion sensors), like the touch screen keyboard, simply need to approximate the feel, responsiveness and feedback of the physical controls... and there comes a point in the cost-benefit equation when virtual controls cross the proverbial "good enough" line such that most gamers convince themselves that they are getting more out of the new paradigm than they are loosing out on by letting go of the old paradigm.
Trust me, many Blackberry power users have gone through the agony of having to tamper their idea of what the best data input mechanism for a smart phone is in order to take advantage of what an all glass screen can do (such as having a different virtual keyboards for different data entry requirements).
My advice to all those who find physical game controls to be sacrosanct is to look as how quickly the sanctity of the physical smart phone keyboard evaporated when the utility of their virtual approximations out striped the usefulness of their physical manifestations.