Joystick: Do people care about third-party controllers?

After all the hoopla, the Avenger controller is out. Question is, do people care?

Hardcore gaming enthusiasts and Internet lovers are probably familiar with Paul Christoforo and the Ocean Marketing/Penny Arcade debacle that took place at the end of 2011. A customer concerned with the Avenger’s release date being pushed back emails customer service about his preorders. The customer representative, one Paul Christoforo, emails back. The customer gets annoyed, Christoforo gets condescending, the customer rants in frustration, and Christoforo yells at and insults the customer (read: acts like a 4-year-old playground bully).

What makes matters worse is Christoforo’s boasting that as the public relations person for N-Control (the company that makes Avenger controllers), he has connections everywhere, including well-known gaming sites like Penny Arcade and Kotaku. Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik intervenes, releases the email exchange on the Internet and causes a massive PR nightmare for N-Control.

All over a product designed to increase a gamer’s playing experience.

Now that the Avenger has been released, what’s the decision? People seem to either love or hate the controller, which could more accurately be called a controller sleeve. You place your already existing 360 or PS3 controller inside of the sleeve, which helps calibrate and increase button tension. It also packs a ton of switches and levers, which increases your reaction time by a considerable amount. The Avenger received great reviews from many mainstay gaming publications and I found it to be quite a nice controller add-on, especially for first-person shooters. It won’t improve your accuracy, but you’ll definitely feel quicker.

Yet I wonder how many people even knew about the Avenger until the Christoforo debacle? It seems like third-party controllers don’t have as strong a presence as they used to. I can remember destroying games like MegaMan X and Twisted Metal 2 with MadCatz controllers on my Super Nintendo and PS1 more than 10 years ago. Nowadays, I don’t feel the need to buy performance-enhancing controllers, though I’m sure I could use some help now and then.

The Avenger is a fairly good product, especially for first-person shooter fans. With the hype and fallout from the Christoforo debacle ebbing, I’m not sure whether the controller add-on will have an impact outside of hardcore gaming.

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