Thanks for that Stephen. I tried to add you on Steam many months ago to discuss some of your ideas, but it must have been lost in the void?
Agreed that the initial ball speed is slow (maybe I slowed it down a bit because I'm slower now I'm older? lol), but it speeds up fairly soon into the game to gradually pick up the pace. The bat speed is limited for all control methods (including the mouse). Imagine if the mouse player was faster than the game controller players - it wouldn't be fair. Imagine if the game controller could move as fast as the mouse, it would be impossible to control / stop. If it was any faster, you could just swipe left and right and never miss a ball due to the game physics (in other Breakout games the bat just passes through the ball - in PowBall it physically knocks it back into play - I don't want to be like other Breakouts). It's also to force you to plan ahead, aim, and be ready for when the ball bounces back. It probably feels a lot different to other Breakouts games that you've played, but be assured that a lot of thought and testing was put into the way it currently plays and has already undergone 1000s of tweaks.
As for your other ideas, they sound like something to include in PowBall 2, since Renaissance is a reboot of the original and needs to stay similar to the original concept. So, watch this space :-)