It is no secret to those within esports that there has always been an internal rivalry between PC and Console esports. While the two communities often like to jest with each other over superiority, the companies that operate within esports have quickly realized that *both* are lucrative markets to be tapped into. One company traditionally operating within the PC world just made its intention of entering the console market known via an exciting acquisition.
SteelSeries, a Danish producer of computer peripherals include mice, keyboards, headsets, and more since 2001 recently acquired Atlanta-based KontrolFreek, the leading company for thumbstick modifications. As both companies are private, the value of the acquisition has not been publicly disclosed. The move will bring the KontrolFreek brand under the SteelSeries umbrella, but fans of the product line can expect it to move forward as planned but with more resources, marketing, and partnership opportunities at their disposal.
KontrolFreek prides itself on improving player performance regardless of the console on which one plays. Their extended thumbsticks come in various lengths and shapes to ensure that a player can make gaming a more comfortable experience and simultaneously improve their accuracy, range, and grip. This is especially important for players within console FPS communities who have always struggled with being as accurate as their PC counterparts. With FPS titles like Call of Duty reigning as the current kings of console esports, this move is a smart one for a PC peripherals company looking to benefit from the console community. It is especially timely with the recent releases of new generation consoles ensuring both Xbox and PlayStation remain major players in esports over the coming years. By supporting both of these consoles as well as the Nintendo Switch, KontrolFreek is in a prime position to capitalize on the popularity of any game featured on any popular console.
For KontrolFreek, this is undoubtedly a great success story. The company was founded in 2007 and got off the ground with only a $50,000 investment from BLH Venture Partners. Since then they have sold over 2 million units and are available in over 9,000 retailers and 16 online marketplaces spanning 60 different countries. They have quickly become a mainstay in the console esports space and have partnered with many major titles such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Apex Legends to create officially licensed gear. Their products are affordable – ranging from $15-$25 a piece – but can provide tremendous benefit to any player looking to improve their performance. This makes them an obvious choice for anyone who takes playing games on their console seriously.
For SteelSeries, this move is an excellent fit. They are already a major sponsor of endemic esports competitions and organizations including the likes of BLAST, OG, and FaZe Clan along with hundreds of streamers and influencers. Many of these partners have large followings and a presence within the world of console esports making this move a natural fit. It could also lead to team and competition branded KontrolFreek products in the future. With an already impressive repertoire of peripherals, the addition of KontrolFreek makes sure they have something for every esports fan, regardless of where and what they play.
The move is a signal to the esports industry that the console space is not to be taken lightly and while it may be smaller than the world of PC esports, it is still a lucrative opportunity well worth investigating. It is likely not the last move we will see of major PC companies looking to capitalize on the growth and success of the console market. After all – the success of any esport is a success for the industry.