The global eSports industry has exploded in popularity in the last few years, having broken the threshold of $1 billion global net worth by 2020 and showing no signs of slowing towards $3 billion by the end of the decade.
The impact of the sector’s arrival as a leading entertainment market is being felt everywhere, with offers on wagers provided by leading comparison platforms like oddschecker increasingly being redeemed to back flagship esports events, and sales of gaming laptops and peripherals surging to meet demand.
This newly found mainstream appeal is also impacting the demographics of the sector, with many new eSports fans coming from a predominantly mobile, and console background rather than PC gaming. This is unsurprising, as these two sectors dwarf the PC gaming market, which has always struggled with its prohibitively high entry costs.
Suffice it to say that the major eSports of the future will be largely the province of the hardware the average gamer can access, and with 50% of all American households featuring a games console, and upwards of 90% of the population owning a smartphone, this transition away from PC-centric MOBAs, and the like, is simply a matter of time.
The eSports Console Generation
In light of this, the 9th generation of consoles, as exemplified by the Xbox Series X|S and the PlayStation 5, are eagerly squaring off against one another to capture the market share of this newfound audience. The Xbox, home to the Gears of War franchise, Halo: Infinite, and Forza Motorsport, is already eagerly building up its competitive circuits at the behest of Microsoft. And when the Redmond-based company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard goes through, bringing potential exclusivity of the Call of Duty franchise with it, you can count on the fact that the Xbox platform will milk that for all its eSports potential.
This is not to say that Sony are down and out of its luck when it comes to making a case for the PlayStation 5 as the de-facto eSports console. High-profile relationships with the likes of EA Sports and 2K Games mean that the platform enjoys exclusive rights to much of the sports-sim eSports market, and with Gran Turismo being adopted by the International Olympic Commission as their chosen competitive motorsport title for future eSports tournaments, the future’s looking bright for the console’s eSport hopes.
Enter the Wolverine V2 Pro
It is in light of this context that one must appraise Sony’s recent announcement of a collaboration with leading eSports gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer on a $250, officially licensed eSports controller for the PlayStation 5. Called the Wolverine V2 Pro, it’s designed to be the definitive answer to the Xbox’s own eSports-optimized ‘Elite’ controller. But with an asking price nearly double that of Xbox’s offering, the V2 Pro is an extremely premium add-on.
Fortunately, Sony can bank on the competitive capital Razer has built up in the PC gaming space to make a case for its value to the most serious of PS5 eSports athletes – but what exactly sets it apart from the standard DualSense controller? Let’s take a look.
Ever since the launch of the original PlayStation, Sony has opted to position their dual thumbsticks on the lower edge of their controllers. This instantly recognizable layout has become as synonymous with the PlayStation brand as the triangle, circle, cross, and square buttons.
But there’s no denying that swapping the left thumbstick and d-pads’ positions, as we see on virtually all other console controllers today, such as the Xbox, is ergonomically superior. The V2 Pro eagerly dispenses with tradition by swapping these inputs in pursuit of pure performance.
The Wolverine V2 has several innovative additions to the standard PlayStation controller setup. For one, this pad comes with Razer’s so-called mecha-tactile action buttons that offer shorter travel and sharper inputs than regular controllers, decreasing lag time and improving response for button presses.
The controller’s triggers have also been adjusted to offer multiple levels of travel, with slide locks that let you convert them into additional short-travel buttons on the fly.
This potent package is rounded off with 6 remappable buttons, including 2 additional under-side paddle bumpers, and interchangeable thumb-stick caps for impressive degrees of customization.