With the number of options available to gamers when it comes to gaming peripherals growing year by year, the Daily Reaction crew is asking the question, are accessories worth it? Will simply adding on more and more high end plastic optionals improve our ability to be integrated into virtual worlds or are they just a marketing tool to get consumers to pay top dollar for things they don’t need?
Dan: Having done numerous hardware reviews across multiple types of devices, I’ve seen a great number of comments about how pointless it is to purchase premium gaming hardware and this is something I simply have never understood. With many gamers spending a significant amount of time doing a specific hobby, why not make the most of that experience?
Gaming headsets or a quality sound system have become some of the things I have started to notice that many gamers simply chose to ignore, even though their ability to profoundly improve someone’s experience can’t be understated. More often than not, people tend to spend a great deal of money on a television, and little else, leaving them to have a great visual experience but a lacking auditory one. Much like purchasing a giant 1080p television, but ruining it by continuing to use composite cables, an experience is made up not by a single adjustment, but by making sure each step is done correctly.
Regardless of what you play, short of a handful of smaller titles, improving your audio can drive your experience miles ahead of what it was no matter how big your television is. While some people will have differing issues when it comes to being able to utilize sound, whether it is thin walls, or simply cost, there are many options out there that can fit the bill and at the very least give gamers something to work with. Not everyone will need to spend $300 on a gaming headset, but at the same time, if you think you are getting a comparable experience using a pair of $20 ones, you may need to get your hearing checked.
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Beyond some of the gaming “necessities,” there are many gaming options out there that let players play how they want to. Going all the way back to the early days of gaming, joysticks were a feasible option for gamers to play just about any game and get an arcade experience, but now, that is something that is mainly reserved for the fighting game genre. The same can also be said for racing wheels, which are also giving players the option of re-creating an arcade experience at home. Which is another factor that I don’t think should be ignored, as the ability for pure immersion is something that I think the industry is striving for as we move forward.
Looking at what each of these optional accessories do for players, it is easy to see that everything’s derived to help immerse gamers into the moment. Having a completely virtual hobby, it’s sometimes easy to forget that very little of what we can do is tangible. While audio and visual cues can help sweep us away, the ability to have something to touch or use in the real world beyond a standard controller helps pull a virtual world into the real one.
Chandler: While Dan examines the peripherals that enhance multiple existing experiences and can be used for nearly any application. Headsets can be used for any game to enhance the experience. Racing wheels can be used with racing games. Arcade sticks can be used with fighting games. These are peripherals that are designed to enhance an already existing experience. But what happens when we look at peripherals seeking to create new experiences.
You can’t just apply the PlayStation Move to any game like you can plug in a headset for any title. Move titles need to be specially designed to utilize the peripheral’s functions (or hastily patched in to showcase lackluster support for a title that was not designed to use it in the first place). Right now, Move hardly enhances any experience, and most of the titles designed for at are gimmicky at best. The one place where Move promises to shine is in conjunction with Morpheus, which is yet another peripheral that doesn’t enhance an existing experience, but rather demands all new ones.
I’m not saying it’s bad for a peripheral to demand an all new and exclusive experience. In fact, I think that Morpheus and VR will highlight the point that peripherals are required to really evolve and enhance our current knowledge of gaming experiences, which has admittedly begun to grow a little stale — just look at the flood of re-releases, remasters, and reboots as the industry struggles for fresh ideas. It’s going to take a literal game changer to refresh the industry and push the boundaries forward.
We’ve already had a proven experience with peripherals that had little use outside of their intended application: plastic instruments. Just look at how successful those peripherals were because of the way they uniquely changed the way we play. The peripherals demanded a unique experience be crafted for them, and in turn, the experience the developers were going for required a unique peripheral. It’s a massive gamble that ultimately paid off, and looks like it will pay off again later this fall.
Are peripherals important? Only as important as the experience that you want from gaming. Improved audio is important to Dan with his headsets, where I prefer a surround sound approach. Not that I don’t love a good headset, but I love the open feeling of surround audio. I’m excited for VR because of what it will do for our gaming experience. I hate to admit that I love plastic instruments for the unique and different experience it offers. Peripherals are important to pushing the limits beyond the standard game/controller experience we know, and while some of them are complete duds, some change the face of games as we know them.
Which gaming accessories do you think are important? And which do you think are a waste of money? Let us know in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife.