As a competitive gamer, I have been waiting for the day that hardware companies begin producing excellent, adjustable controllers to cater to the competitive and hardcore gaming crowds. For years, our brethren on the PC side of gaming have had the luxury of companies producing hundreds of differentiating grades of computer peripherals. Including everything from mice, keyboards, headsets, cases — literally everything.
Console gaming has…Mad Cats controllers? Before Astro Gaming came along everyone was clamoring about Turtle Beach headsets which, in my humble opinion, are extremely awful headsets! The majority of the competitive console gamers were using headphones that were built for those 3.5mm jacks in your PC – anyone remember the coveted Sennheiser HD 595s? Astro changed the landscape for Console gamers in the headset department, console hardware companies started producing better headsets because they realized we like them just as much as our PC counterparts. Let’s take a look at Tritton Technology before Astro Gaming came along:
Tritton Technology After Astro Gaming:
Even my favorite PC hardware makers, SteelSeries and Razer, are entering the Console headset arena. I think both companies view the the controller as an untapped, essentially untested gold mine. You better believe it is about to get some major spotlighting within the next year.
Think about this, the standard Xbox 360 controller is sold by distributors to retailers for anywhere between $24.95 – $29.95. Those are then marked up at places like Best Buy ($39.99) and Target ($39.99). Now think about this; the hardcore, competitive gamers are already paying between $65 – $105 for Professional Grade controllers from places like The Controller Shop and Create a Controller (just recently launched). The mark up for the Pro Controllers occur because of defects and the lack of being able to customize your controller.
I know you may be thinking, “Defects? I don’t see anything wrong with my controller. I would never pay that much to fix my controller!” Well believe me, if you are playing 8-10 hours a day and need your controller to turn on a dime, you’ll notice the slow turn and want a fix to the defect.
Outrageous? Maybe, but it is happening. Whether or not SteelSeries and Razer know this (I’m sure they do), there is some serious money to be made.
Where Things Get Interesting
I previously referenced Astro Gaming as the X Factor for competitive console headsets. They changed the landscape and made the previous headset manufacturers, specifically those in the console arena, wake up and start producing better headsets. Astro Gaming is definitely entering the console controller space. Jordan Reiss, VP and Co-Founder of Astro Gamingconfirmed this in his recent interview with The Macfeed. Don’t believe me, check the confirmation is below:
What can we expect from Astro Gaming in the upcoming years? (A50?)
Oh man – we’ve got so many products on our roadmap right now. There are just so many product categories in the gaming space that need shaking up. We’ll continue with audio products of course, but at some point we’ll be adding wireless products, controllers too – you name it. We’re going to be doing this for a long time and have really barely begun the task at hand.
I cannot really say I am surprised, but if Astro plans on entering the space relatively soon they better get it in gear before Razer steals their thunder with the Onza. I already stated that I believe the Razer Onza could change the landscape for competitive console gaming, but I can only imagine what Astro could do to the market. I have also heard rumors that SteelSeries is developing a console, competitive grade controller. I do not know the validity of that rumor, but things could get very interesting, very soon.
For the most part, I see Astro mimicking the Onza, but adding their own “spin” to a few things. Tension adjustable analog sticks, mapping buttons to different buttons, super grip material, and improved ergonomics on the design – those should all stay in tact. What Astro may do is add to the “graphical design” of the controller with similar customizing options as the detachable tags seen on their headsets. Astro Gaming also has Major League Gaming and the Pro Gaming community as a catalyst to boost the probability of their controller selling. They prototyped the A40s in MLG, you know they also happen to be the Official Headset of MLG right? <Insert> Astro Gaming MLG Controller…well I think you get it. The downside may be that these will be some expensive, and I mean expensive, wired controllers but guess what – you’ll be willing to pay for it because you’re already doing it now.
Ultimately the Razer Onza will be the stepping stone for all other players in the controller space. It’s up to us, the gamers, to determine what controller will reign supreme. The war is definitely brewing, who will you support?
- Controllers (Part Three) – An Open Letter to MLG
- The Razer Onza Prototype: Slow Turn Tested, Slow Turn Approved
- Controllers (Part Two) – The Expectations
- The Avenger - The Ultimate 360 Controller Add-On?
- SteelSeries Spectrum Headsets
- Upcoming AmazYn Reviews
- Review: SteelSeries Spectrum 5XB Headset
- SteelSeries Announces Fundraising Initiative for the Japanese Red Cross Society
- Question of the Week #5: Gaming Headsets
- The AmazYn Gaming Setup