Changing your controls – Nacon’s new devices for a new era of cloud gaming

This new generation of consoles has been a significant one for many reasons, but perhaps the most visually apparent is the continuing evolution and importance of good controller design.

Yannick Allaert, head of accessories development at Nacon

Not only has Sony made substantial changes in their new DualSense controller, moving on from the classic DualShock design to introduce a whole range of new features – including a particular favourite of ours, the context-appropriate resistance in the triggers which takes haptic feedback to a whole new level. 

Beyond that, the rise of cloud gaming, particularly on mobile devices, has opened up a whole new market segment for controller manufacturers. And arguably the biggest contender in consumer-friendly cloud gaming right now is Microsoft, whose cloud gaming service has been folded into the omnipresent Game Pass – Bringing both modern classic Xbox titles to the small screen for the first time.

That’s why Nacon is releasing the new MG-X and MG-X PRO controllers, which are specifically designed for Game Pass players using mobile devices, and will be out on September 20th. 

To find out about them and more besides, we reached out to Yannick Allaert, head of accessories development at Nacon.

We’ve had controllers for phones before, but cloud content is a whole new dimension, did that change how you approached the design for MG-X?

Cloud gaming is revolutionising the way we play and it’s integrating video games even more into our daily lives. Microsoft has already positioned itself as a key player in this new market. For NACON, as a designer of accessories, it opens up incredible opportunities for developing new products because gaming is now a truly portable experience and not just about playing games with simplified gameplay on your smartphone. 

Our MG-X controllers offer the same playing experience as with a home console. As innovation and the user experience is central to everything we do, we grabbed this opportunity to create products that are compatible with Game Pass Ultimate. By combining our expertise with Microsoft’s support, we just wanted to offer the best experience possible for Xbox players.

Why the two different MG-X models, how do you think the market will split between them?

The challenge we faced was to cater to a new way of playing and new requirements. This way of playing is still in a development phase, so we haven’t yet had enough insight into what players like and don’t like. To ensure we improved the experience as much as possible, we developed two different approaches. The compact design of the MG-X makes it more focused on mobility, whereas the MG-X PRO offers a more classic controller experience for smartphones. We’re confident that there’s a market for both of them, which is why we decided to launch both models.

Pictured: The more compact MG-X (above) and the classically shaped MG-X PRO (lead image)

Will Microsoft be supporting you in marketing the controllers?

We’ve had a great relationship with Microsoft for many years as a video game publisher and provider of accessories. Their various teams supported us for the launch of the Pro Compact a few months ago, and they will do the same for the MX-G and Revolution X by creating buzz on their social media platforms, collaborating with influencers, etc.

Other than marketing collaborations with Microsoft, we will of course pull out all the stops to promote our controllers with Xbox players and mobile players: influencers, press campaigns, trade marketing, targeted ad campaigns, etc.

There’s now a first Revolution ‘Designed for Xbox’ model, why has this taken so long in coming, and why are you releasing it now?

Development of a controller like the Revolution is a long and complex process that starts with an advanced analysis of our previous models and competing products. This includes gathering lots of feedback from our player community and from professional gamers who we’ve collaborated with for several years. 

All this is what we use to create a new generation of controller: ergonomics, integrated technology, customisation options, software, etc. Every detail was considered carefully to ensure Microsoft as well as Xbox and PC players were satisfied. 

This is a truly premium controller, which includes unique and advanced technologies, for users who expect the best. We couldn’t risk giving them a substandard product. It’s a Revolution in gaming for the end of the year.

Above: The Revolution X is the Nacon’s first pro controller for the Xbox family of consoles

Moving onto PlayStation, the PS5 controller was a big leap from PS4, with the built-in microphone and advanced haptics, has that made it tricky for you?

It’s a big motivation for us to grow in a market driven by two players as dynamic and innovative as Microsoft and Sony. Each new console generation offers lots of surprises, new technologies and challenges that we gladly tackle to create new experiences for players. We’re not so interested in surpassing the console manufacturers as offering alternatives to suit all types of players. And, of course, we’re already working on new concepts for the PS5. But we can’t reveal anything more than that just yet!

Those features mean that PS5 games won’t necessarily support PS4 controllers, is that a big opportunity for Nacon, as people will need more controllers?

The manufacturers’ approaches differ on this point. Microsoft is allowing for backwards compatibility, whereas Sony wants a different game experience for each console generation. This opens up interesting development opportunities for both game creators and accessory manufacturers. For us, we’re confident in our ability to adapt to these different environments so that we can stand out on next-gen.

In terms of the controls and layout, what do you think of the Steam Deck?

It’s very impressive and perfectly in keeping with the shift happening in the video game industry. We can’t wait to try it out and find out how comfortable it is in real-life conditions, but our first impressions are that Valve has done an amazing job. If it lives up to its claims of power and battery life, it will be a big success. 

Valve is talking about allowing other partners to make compatible devices, maybe Nacon could partner with someone to provide ergonomics and control design?

We are already thinking about how we can help Valve with the launch of their new console with customised accessories. After many years serving PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo players, it would be amazing to embark on a new adventure with Valve! 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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