Logitech has been one of the most trusted PC peripherals for decades. Customers have grown to trust their products thanks to solid build quality and prices that are fairly reasonable for what you get. The company announced earlier that they will be acquiring Astro Gaming — a primarily gaming-centric headphone maker for $85 million in cash.
This means Logitech will extend their prowess from their usual mice and keyboard assortments to now offering up either more gaming headsets or simply focusing on higher-quality ones. The timing of the purchase is a bit suspect due to Astro’s recent release of the A10 – a lower-cost headset at $60 compared to their usual $200 and above headsets that generally kept them in the niche market of not only going after gamers, but also gamers with a lot of money to spend on a headset.
Astro’s headsets are mainly used for consoles, but they have PC versions available and many of their headsets can be used across major consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 alongside the PC. This means that while they are pricey, you can at least get several devices to work with them and if you have all three, your cost to get a headset for each device isn’t too bad. On the highest-end version, the Astro A50 can cost you around $300, but if you need a headset for three gaming devices, that’s only $100 per headset – so it’s reasonable in that regard. Astro has had competition in the gaming space with HyperX generally crafting high-quality gear at a lower price point, while Razer keeps things at a high-end price point like Astro.
Logitech themselves are no strangers to PC gaming headsets. Their headsets have gone after both the high and low ends of the market. On the higher end end of the spectrum, their G430’s offer up a fairly large earcup design for around $80, while the 433s offer simulator 7.1 surround sound for $100. The G933s are easily their highest-end headset, with 7.1 Dolby surround, RGB lighting built-in and gigantic ear cups that fit in nicely with the large cushioning for the top of the user’s head. Astro and Logitech have been rivals in one sense while also not really going after the exact same market. Logitech’s generally lower price point makes their headsets more appealing for those on a budget, while Astro’s focused on more high-end audio solutions.
The purchase of Astro by Logitech has led to some concern that the gaming audio company would be shuttered – but it appears that won’t be the case. An Astro employee stated that internally, this buyout appears to be viewed as a great move. The company’s prior owner, Skullcandy, didn’t really make its name on high-quality components — even if its Bluetooth headphones and other portable audio devices are good, they never quite reach the level that many expect from pricier devices. One issue brought up is that it looks like Skullcandy wasn’t really spending the money that was needed to live up to what Astro wanted to do and that it appears Logitech will be doing just that.
The biggest piece of good news that can be gleamed from this is that Logitech will be keeping Astro around and pumping money into it to ensure that the company succeeds. From a consumer perspective, it doesn’t appear that they will be making any major changes — so I wouldn’t expected the branding to change to something like Astro Logitech or Astro by Logitech. That kind of move could easily lead to confusion and when it comes to consumer goods, keeping that to a minimum is always what you should do. A logo change to signify a new era wouldn’t be the worst idea, but for the time being, keeping everything the same is the best move. The Astro brand is currently associated with higher-end equipment, and while its logo isn’t for everyone, the company does go for more subdued-looking gear than Razer or HyperX.
Logitech stated that their goal with this was to increase their gaming footprint and expand to consoles. That is one area the company has never truly explored – beyond PC headsets that could also be used on consoles. Another benefit to this acquisition is that they will become the number one maker of PC-centric devices as a whole thanks to Logitech already making mice, keyboards, webcams, and headsets. However, this could be a breakthrough for console gaming in ways that haven’t fully been explored yet. This move could lead to traditional PC control methods like a keyboard and mouse setup finally becoming tangible for mainstream console gamers.
Third party devices like the CronusMax have acted as a passthrough of sorts and allowed for keyboard and mouse gaming on modern consoles – but with a heavy price. Beyond the device itself being $60, it also brought about input lag – which would effectively negate any advantage to using a keyboard and mouse on a console because having better aim won’t do you much good when it takes longer to actually find your target. However, the idea behind something like this is sound and Logitech could very well be the company to bring a keyboard and mouse experience to consoles. They have a wealth of experience making keyboards on PC and have turned that into making well-regarded gaming keyboards.
With Astro, they can not only use the branding for high-quality headphones and perhaps just keep the Logitech name for the low-to-mid tier products, but also use it as a trojan horse. By using the name for a keyboard, they could easily get across that it is not only high-quality as the Astro brand has come to be known, but also that it’s easy to use.
Ease of use is key for console gaming because unlike with a PC, where players are used to tinkering around to getting things just right, console gamers tend to prefer a simpler setup and easier functionality even if that means losing a feature here and there.