PDP/Victrix Fall Showcase recap

In the first full week of October two major public facing events were being held in two of the major cities on the US coasts: TwitchCon in the ever sunny San Diego and New York Comic Con in New York City. Exhibitors were forced into a Sophie?s Choice of which event to peddle their wares. SEGA and Supertrick Games opted to show California love, Lenovo made the biggest news with the world?s flimsiest ball pit. However something that wasn?t highlighted but should be considered quite a win for NYCC was that San Diego?s very own Performance Designed Products whose generally known by their acronym PDP opted to not stay local, but in fact cross the country to brave weather that would be considered freezing in their hometown.

We were lucky enough to be invited to see not just the products that will be coming down the pipe, but the innovation and the branding changes that?s to come for this 3rd party accessories company.

3rd party accessories have always had a stigma of poor quality, it certainly didn?t help that bad actors helped set the field in a race to the bottom. In the early 2000s serial offender Mad Catz turned it around when they focused heavily on Arcade Sticks and fight pads geared towards the fighting game community. The company?s 2017 bankruptcy left a void in the market once again that has been filled by several parties, one of which includes, of course, PDP. My first interaction with PDP was a 360 era Versus Fighting Pad: Marvel Edition which featured 6 face buttons, offset profile where the left side is slightly extended to provide more room to grip the controller and a very smooth low profile thumbstick. The pad served me well enough that when I felt like purging some of my stuff, I somehow managed to recoup the cost of the controller (MSRP was $39.99). So I have a relatively healthy respect for the brand.

The session started with a brief sitdown with the CEO of the company Brad Wildes (My previous analogy about PDP showing New York much love was not unfounded). Brad, whose resume included tenures at Razor Inc, Mattel Inc, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, painted a bright picture of the company?s future as it was acquired by private equity firm, Diversis and it was set to embark on a rebrand. Prior to the rebrand, PDP?s packaging mirrored the 1st party platform the accessory was being. So for a company whose products do speak for themselves this move makes sense as it doesn?t need to rely on borrowing clout to entice customers. The session would cover accessories which cross the entire gaming gamut, with no platform left untouched.

Trevor Lehr, Director of Product Management took over and literally took out the big guns. Announced days before the showcase, the Pro BFG was Victrix?s PlayStation analog of the Gambit controller they released on the Xbox in 2021. One of its biggest selling points is it?s modular nature, allowing players to customize not just the face, triggers, and the 4 back paddle buttons. One particular thing that caught my eye was the 6 button module. Like I said I?m a big fan of playing fighting games with all 6 buttons on the face of the controller. This module utilizes microswitches giving them a tactile click whenever they are depressed, sadly I?m more of a membrane button guy, so the module ultimately didn?t click with me..but not all hope was lost as when I inquired with Trevor whether or not a membrane based 6 button module would be sold sometime down the line, I was given a diplomatic, but hopeful ?if market conditions wills it?.

Next we were shown the Afterglow Wave series of controllers for the Xbox. Product Manager Christy Gao was our guide to controllers that wouldn?t look out of place at rave. The Afterglow Wave is a wired controller with RGB lighting, it features a textured shell which makes slippage during heated gaming moments a rarity. As with other PDP products, customization is king. The PDP Control Hub app on Xbox (also available on PC) will have tools to control how the lights up, solid colors, gradients, pulsing in conjunction with gameplay, the possibilities numerous. The controller also features PDP?s patented On-The-Fly, Selective Audio Controls that enables the d-pad to act as volume controls.

The Rematch controllers which are available on the Xbox and Switch are an affordable way to game in an age where controllers cost as much as a Triple A title. They feature similar parts to the higher end offers but lack the bells and whistles such as full modularity and lighting options. Despite losing some aesthetic features, these controllers feature multiple color and design options, with one of the Switch Rematch controllers featuring glow in the dark super mushrooms from the Super Mario franchise. The MSRP for these accessories are $34.99 for the Xbox Rematch controller and $27.99 for the Switch Rematch controller.

Other products which were touched on include the company?s Airlite Headsets, both the Standard and Pro iterations. The biggest selling point for me in regards to these headphones are the flexible band?given I?ve snapped a PlayStation Silver Headset, so seeing Trevor twist the headset left my jaw on the ground. Although not officially touched upon during the presentation, the Victrix Pro Arcade Fight Sticks held court in the corner of the hotel suite. While I?m a pad player through and through, seeing the clean construction and the serviceable innards might convince me to actually learn to play on a fight stick, and my inability was unfortunately on display?because I actually said yes to take a spin on the stick, playing Guilty Gear -Strive-. While the results were utterly embarrassing, I had to say the stick felt sturdy, barely budging as I flailed impotently as Giovanna utterly destroyed the Sol I was controlling. Clearly I would not be earning one of the Etched Gold versions of the Pro Arcade Fight Sticks handed out to the winners at EVO 2022 just months previously in August anytime soon.

PDP lived up to their company name, creating excellent accessories and providing great value for their consumers. Their products will definitely be high on my list when I am looking for more accessories and I?m sure it won?t hit my wallet too hard. Their rebranded packaging will certainly make their products more eye-catching on shelves. PDP and Victrix?s products can purchased directly at the company?s e-commerce portal as well as retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy and Wal-Mart