Opinion: Alex Verrey says for peripherals quality is king

Little Big PR’s CEO Alex Verrey discusses why the peripheral industry should "embrace quality".

The gaming industry has been good to me. In fact, it’s all I’ve known. I left school to present a series of video game shows and somehow segued into gaming PR. I’m still here now and continue to be fascinated with how our business changes daily and somehow stays the same.

Hardware has been my speciality throughout my career. I’ve been PR’ing the living shit out of gaming peripherals, accessories and headsets for over 17 years. Sure, I’ve worked on games, plenty of them, but I know my HOTAS from my HAT switch better than most, and have seen it all in my time peddling plastic for a living. 

It’s an interesting time for gaming peripherals. In the days of the SNES and even the PlayStation One, the industry was like the wild west. Controllers, steering wheels, memory cards, there was plenty to keep a hardware company busy and lots of opportunities to turn a quick buck. Development was swift, there were very few lockouts and as gamer expectations were low, even products of questionable quality could sell millions of units.

Oh, how times have changed.

Gaming’s grown up and is all the better for it. These days, on console at least, the point of entry is much steeper. Controllers need licensing from first party, memory cards no longer exist, light guns and cheap steering wheels have fallen out of favour and the technology involved just to bring a product to market is an obvious barrier of entry for all but the most dedicated manufacturers.

"We should have faith in our business and market a game for a fair price."

Alex Verrey, Little Big PR

I, for one, embrace the shift, and innovation in hardware is still alive and thriving. Just look at the success Microsoft has recently enjoyed with the Elite controller, and how many fighting game pros use a controller instead of a Fightstick? Don’t even get me started on optical mice, mechanical keyboards and gaming surfaces!

All areas of our industry should embrace quality – insist on it, in fact. One of our clients, LucidSound, was founded by the team who developed the Tritton audio brand before selling to Mad Catz (God rest her soul). These guys develop gaming headsets made for the modern gamer. No flashing lights, no silly made-up tech, no sci-fi aesthetic: just beautiful design, innovative features and great audio.

Recently, I was chatting with a buyer who told me they really loved the product but suggested we attract the ‘kids’ by slashing the price. They went onto say it would be a great idea to make a cheap version. Replace the metal frame with a plastic one, rip out the speakers and put something cheaper in, and push it all out for half the price. I smiled politely and changed the subject.

The race to the bottom is never a great idea. It cheapens the brand and leaves a sour taste in the mouth of the gamer. No one has ever regretted buying quality. We should have faith in our business and market a game, or gaming product, for a fair price. Stop discounting so quickly and have a little faith in your audience. 

In my experience, gamers will pay a little more for quality, for something that will enhance their gaming experience. We need to realise that giving products away for well below their worth, or cutting corners via shoddy workmanship can only end badly for us all. 

Here’s to those who appreciate quality and to those prepared to pay a fair price for a fair product. Long may they thrive and continue to spread the word.

Alex Verrey started his own gaming PR agency Big Boy PR after spending nearly two decades in-house at various peripheral companies. He has now co-founded a new PR agency serving the gaming industry by the name of Little Big PR. He can be reached at alex@littlebigpr.com

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