Peripherals Proliferate in the Game Biz20 Nov, 2003 By: John Gaudiosi
Anyone who's purchased a PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube or Game Boy Advance (GBA) knows that buying games is just the beginning of the investment. Video game fans like to use steering wheels for driving games like Project Gotham Racing 2 and Mario Kart: Double Dash, and light guns for titles like House of the Dead III and Time Crisis III. And cutting through all the long cords of standard controllers, many gamers are upgrading to wireless controllers these days. Installing home wi-fi networks by D-Link and Linksys for both PC and console gaming is a new booming business.It's no wonder that video game accessories brought in $1.2 billion in 2002, according to the NPD Group. Through September 2003, game peripherals have earned more than $657.3 million. Many of the controllers, joysticks and memory cards available for game systems are less than $20, which makes them easy impulse buys.Plus, items like memory cards are a necessity for even casual gamers, so consumers will always have a need for them.
Portable LCD Screens
It's not just GBA that's going on the road these days. Compact LCD screens from manufacturers like Mad Catz and Intec allow gamers to play Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube in the car (with a separate car adapter cable) or in any room in the house (no TV required). Mad Catz's $199 universal backlit LCD screen works with all three consoles. Intec sells three separate console-specific LCD screens, which are 5.6 inches, for $149 each. For in-home viewing, Elite Interactive has the BFM-9000 ($349), a flat-screen 13-inch LCD monitor that works with all consoles, as well as DVD players and camcorders. Another cool new way to watch games without a TV is with Hip Interactive's Screen Pads ($50) for Xbox and PS2. These cool devices come with a flip-up 2.6-inch hi-res LCD screen with built-in speakers.
This year, controllers have gone wireless. Logitech, Pelican Accessories, Intec and Hip Interactive all have 2.4GHz wireless controllers available for PS2 and Xbox. The controllers range from $40 to $70 and allow gamers to play from up to 50 feet away from the TV. Mad Catz has an older Lynx 900MHz wireless controller for $39, and Nintendo still sells its wireless Wavebird controllers for GameCube ($35). All these controllers feature plug-and-play ease with either rechargable battery packs or standard battery operations.
Steering wheels have long been a staple of video games. Most accessory makers, including Mad Catz, Pelican Accessories, Intec and Gamester, have universal and console-specific steering wheels starting at $20. The more expensive ones come with gas and brake pedals for about $40. Dance mats are all the rage these days thanks to Konami's Dance Dance Revolution games. In addition to traditional mats, which retail for about $20, Naki International and Pelican Accessories have wireless dance pads for $30. Karaoke is also popular these days, and Microsoft, Konami and Mad Catz have microphone kits available for $30 to $40. With the wealth of snowboard games and skateboard games on the market, the $25 Gamester SportsBoard offers kids a more virtual ride. Nuby's sturdy Soul Calibur II Universal Arcade Stick ($40) brings the arcade experience home. And light-gun fans will get a kick out of Pelican Accessories' Silent Scope Rifle ($50) for sharpshooting in Konami's Xbox game.
Wireless Net Extender ($99) allows gamers to play Xbox or PS2 online with a direct connection to a broadband modem. DLink ($69 for the DWL-810 wireless bridge) and Linksys ($99 Wireless G Game Adaptor) also offer wireless gaming connectivity, but require a complete wireless system.
Pelican Accessories' Pro System Selector ($99) allows gamers to connect all their consoles, DVD players and other electronics (up to eight in all) to one sleek metallic box that supports Ethernet and S-Video. Sony's USB Headset ($30) and Microsoft's Xbox Live Communicator ($30) allow gamers to talk to friends while playing online games.