Creative Control: How Controllers Will Shape Success in the Era of eSports
News As eSports continue to boom, it will only attract bigger audiences and bigger sponsors. With so much at stake, professional gamers have never depended more on their gear.
Mediaplanet: Why did you begin creating customized controllers?
Duncan Ironmonger: The gaming market has grown and advanced significantly in the last 10 years, with billions of dollars being spent by game developers in several gaming genres, from first-person shooters to racing and sports games. The traditional controller model of one size fits all is not always suited to hardcore gamers, so we wanted to create a controller that could be functionally enhanced to offer gamers a choice.
Similar to golf clubs for a golfer, one size does not fit all. Every game or sport requires a specialized tool. We felt it was necessary for gamers, especially professional gamers, to have a gaming controller that suited their hand size, their game-play and to avoid harmful techniques like the claw.
MP: How have eSports raised the bar of professional and hardcore controllers?
DI: With any sport, the more people start playing and the more sponsors and money coming into the sport, the more people start following and participating. In parallel, streaming, YouTube and other social media forums have enabled people to become more involved in that community. As with any rapidly growing market, people want to become better. They’re looking for tools to help them improve, and the main tool between the gamer and the console is the controller.
"The traditional controller model of one size fits all is not always suited to hardcore gamers."
MP: In your opinion, what are the four most important features on a controller?
Duncan Ironmonger: In my opinion, the four most important features are:
Back (paddle) functions – Paddles are what nearly all-professional gamers now use. They allow previously redundant fingers that hold the controller at the back, to mimic functions that traditionally were only accessed on the front of a controller.
Adjustable trigger and trigger stops – Traditional controller triggers have a swing of around 25 degrees, which is perfect for racing games where you need to accelerate. However, for shooters there is typically only one activation point to fire a weapon or scope your weapon, so reducing unnecessary trigger latency in the trigger movement can be very useful. Many hardcore and professional gamers now use this functionality.
Thumbsticks – The left thumbstick is typically used to sprint in shooters while the right thumbstick is typically used to aim in shooters. Having a short left thumbstick—we recommend a short concave, because you dig in to sprint—is beneficial, while a tall right—concave or domed head—provides more accuracy when aiming, due to the added height. The comfort and durability of the sticks is also key!
Grip – As gamers get anxious or hot, their hands begin to perspire. Having some form of grip on your controller is really helpful; it gives you more comfort and stops your hands from slipping while playing.
MP: What are the main competitive advantages of gaming with a custom controller?
DI: Their functional features, such as triggers, thumbsticks, control disc or grip, all work to improve the use of your hand and controller. For comfort and fit, through thumbstick lengths and faceplate finishes. And for their design. As teams and players build a strong brand identity with their logos, they want to express themselves on their equipment also.
MP: Where do you see the custom controller landscape headed?
DI: In the next three years, the gaming market will attract far more competitive players and significantly more prize money. With that will follow a far bigger audience, so expect to see more innovation and premium products. A higher percentage of gamers will want top-end, specialized equipment, same as with any sport. If you look back on how golf clubs or even the javelin has evolved over the years, you will see continual innovation and advances. There will be more features to suit individual gameplay, more customized options for design and the use of more high-end materials.