Mediaplanet: Why did you begin creating customized controllers?

Spencer Patton: We see a tremendously underserved market niche that we are very excited to fill. Consumers are hungry for customization: cases, buttons, features. It is imperative to offer gamers the ability to uniquely state their own identity. At the end of the day, our controllers enhance game play much like a new golf club enhances your golfing experience.

MP: How have eSports raised the bar of professional and hardcore controllers?

SP: Make no mistake, eSports is in its infancy. eSports will surpass the MLB, NHL and NFL in its popularity. eSports are accessible to everyone without the purchase of an expensive ticket—and every event is viewable from anywhere in the world. This growth trend demands that every other part of the gaming experience evolves as well. Controllers will not be an exception. Gamers are gaming longer, harder and more intensely than ever before. Every millisecond of reaction time can mean the difference between scoring the kill and getting killed. Eliminating dexterity fatigue has to be one of the top priorities for every accessory manufacturer.

MP: In your opinion, what are the four most important features on a controller?

SP: I think that the four most imoprtant features are:

  1. Authentic guts (OEM printed circuit boards from Sony/Microsoft) — With the ever-rising popularity of gaming, more overseas knockoffs are making their way into the marketplace. Fly-by-night companies can purchase aftermarket controllers for under $10 and deliver a subpar product to their customers, making a lot of short-term money in the process. Starting with original and quality components from the inside out is essential.

  2.  Case — Every controller case has a different feel, a different texture. Some gamers prefer the grip tack that a matte controller provides; others prefer a slicker, more frictionless feel. Let’s face it: some of us have palms that sweat profusely while gaming, and we need controllers that are designed to wick away that moisture. Under Armour has mastered this concept in their athletic gear and, as an industry, controller manufacturers are discovering that our competitors demand the same level of attention.

  3. Button variety — For gamers that come from a PC to a console, the difference between the number of keys on a keyboard and the buttons on a controller can be alarming. Adding additional buttons to the exterior of the controller can be a real advantage to a gamer, especially one that frequently transitions between consoles. Having extra, programmable buttons on your controller provides great versatility to every serious gamer.

  4. Thumbsticks — Upgrading your thumbsticks to a more thumb-friendly design is a brilliant move on the part of a gamer. Your thumbs apply over 50 pounds of pressure per square inch to a controller. You have to have a thumbstick that can respond to abuse. Thumbsticks tend to wear out over time, but they are also the easiest to replace. Rotate through thumbsticks more frequently than you think you might need to; it is worth the investment.

MP: What are the main competitive advantages of gaming with a custom controller? 

SP: Speed. Nearly every modification made to a controller is designed to enhance your reaction time speed. Different sized buttons, larger buttons, unique button placement to minimize finger movement: everything is about shaving a quarter second off reaction time.

Superior performance. Modifying the internals of a controller to make you shoot faster, reload quicker, and jump more effectively adds a whole new dimension to your favorite games. With the assistance of some additional circuitry, you can play your favorite games in ways humans have never been able to play before. Firing semi-automatic weapons faster than your finger could ever press, reloading for only the precise amount of time necessary to enable you to start firing again, shooting at the exact moment your scope achieves maximum accuracy—all made possible by modifying your controller.

Mental. Let’s face it, if you are in a good frame of mind while playing, you play better. Likewise, if you are angry and upset, you make poor decisions. When you pick up your controller and you are proud of how it looks and feels, you will be playing from a headspace thatis superior to your competition that is often frustrated or upset while gaming.

MP: Where do you see the custom controller landscape headed?

SP: Without a doubt, custom controller demand is on the rise. As society hungers for quality entertainment at an affordable price, gaming quickly elevates itself as a leading candidate to fulfill that need. The world is becoming more connected than ever before, and the demand for controllers is springing to life in many countries besides the United States.