Ten years ago, Adam Coe was a typical Halo 2 gamer playing in his freshman college dorm room. It was the desire to improve his game that inspired him to create his first custom controller at the age of 19.
Back then, esports was still establishing itself and Coe didn’t know anything about circuitry or hardware modding, but he was able to teach himself using the internet. Afterward, he founded Evil Controllers and became a CEO. The company modifies existing Xbox and PlayStation gamepads with enhancements such as buttons and paddles on the back so that players can perform multiple actions at once, and changeable custom length thumbsticks for improved control. The goal is to provide esports players and gaming enthusiasts with better equipment for markedly greater performance.
The company plans on launching the Evil Shift controller later this summer, which features small multidirectional paddles on the back for multitasking. The controller is named as such because “we’re focusing on the way the [back] paddle shifts as well as shifting the brand into esports and addressing a need for improvement for esports controllers,” Coe told AListDaily.
Microsoft has already caught on with the professional gaming audience with its Elite Wireless Controller for the Xbox One, and there are rival companies that offer specialized controllers for competitive play. However, Coe believes that there is still room for improvement, and Evil Shift offers modifications to the Elite controller to make customizations easier. For example, Coe demonstrated how he could switch out the modifications on the Evil Shift and customize its functions without having to connect with an external utility program or use a special tool so that they can be quickly adjusted to suit different games and play styles.
Flexibility and customization is the cornerstone of Evil philosophy. Coe explained how the Evil Shift will avoid falling victim to design obsolescence, even as the company continues to work with esports players to improve it.
“The consumer can invest in an Evil Shift and know that when new games come out and new challenges happen, we’ll have solutions,” he said. “They’ll be able to buy [modification] packs without having to buy an entirely new controller. We’ll always be able to maintain and keep up with designs. The idea is that you’ll always be able to update your controller with the latest and greatest technology when it comes to paddle design and thumbsticks.”
Coe said Evil Controllers’ strategy for growing in the esports market included participating in events and getting Evil Shift into the hands of as many consumers as possible and getting feedback. Evil Shift will also be meeting with professional teams for sponsorship partnerships in addition to engaging with the community. The company has already built a following of over 300,000 Facebook fans over the past 10 years.
“We’ll be utilizing all of our resources to maximize the release of the [Evil Shift] controller,” said Coe.
Since the company focuses on modifying first-party controllers, it doesn’t necessarily have to compete with Microsoft’s Elite Wireless Controller. Players can expect the same build quality and circuitry that they’re accustomed to—but improved. The company plans to focus on the design aspects and how the Evil Controller adds more features to their favorite gamepads.
“We hope that getting the word out about those comparisons will be enough to make consumers realize that just because Microsoft made an esports controller doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best or greatest,” said Coe. “There are always improvements and things will always change. We’re very excited about the Evil Shift paddles and the fact that they can be hit from any direction. We feel that it’s a major game changer when you compare it to the Elite Controller.”
The company describes the Evil Shift as having a revolutionary design, but from a marketing perspective, it will be treated as an evolution of what is available now for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Coe said that the company is particularly excited for the Shift controller on PlayStation because there isn’t a leader in the esports controller space for that console yet.
While professional esports players are Evil’s primary users, the controller may also appeal to a more mainstream gaming audience.
“The beauty of the Evil Shift is that it’s beneficial to esports players, but the design aspects make for a more comfortable gaming experience,” said Coe. “So, even if you’re not a hardcore gamer, you’ll still find benefit from performing multiple functions at once. As games come out with more features, players will need to press more buttons. Controllers have evolved from two-or-three buttons to 20 [in some cases]. More casual gamers can play games more easily and comfortably, giving them the ability to grow into being more hardcore gamers.”
How will Evil Controllers reach mainstream gaming audiences and raise awareness that they can improve on their stock controllers?
“By utilizing media outlets and being at tournaments,” Coe said. “We feel that the Evil Controller is superior to the ones out there. We’ve built a customer database over the past 10 years, and they love the controller and feel that it’s better. That, in turn, makes them want to tell other gamers about the controller for a better gaming experience. That’s one way we’ve been organically reaching gamers that aren’t necessarily attending esports events, or watching games on Twitch.”