Why is it so hard to make a console gaming chair for big lads?

Four console gaming chairs on a blue and green background
(Image credit: Future/Respawn/I-eX/Brazen/Puma Active)

Sitting comfortably while playing games shouldn’t be as tricky as it is in 2023. And for many, it isn’t: the best gaming chairs and best gaming desks can offer superbly ergonomic and comfortable options for PC gamers or those with desk-bound setups that are not only great for comfort but wonderful for work and relaxing too.

However, as someone whose PlayStation 5 is their main platform, why is that not the case for console players in front of TVs? Console gaming chairs do exist, of course, and prove that there are folks wanting a dedicated, comfortable seat for console play. But what’s on offer is nowhere near that which is available to PC or desk-based players.

Not that long ago I reviewed the PlaySeat Puma Active gaming seat, and while it grew on me, I once again got the feeling that console seats just aren’t hitting the mark. Especially so if you’re a taller or bigger player like myself (about 6’3”/190cm; 230lbs/104kg).

I’ve tried all of the go-to types as well, from massive beanbags to rockers, to pedestals, and now PlaySeat’s ‘active’ chair type. But while each has its advantages, inevitably, they also have something key that’s holding them back - there is no Secretlab Titan Evo or Herman Miller Embody equivalent in the console gaming chair world yet. But why is that? Why do big, established brands and manufacturers find that so hard? 

Profile picture of the PlaySeat Puma Active gaming seat in a garden

(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

Build for comfort, not speed 

One area where console gaming chairs are often substandard is the focus of their build or design. Although it grew on me over time, the Puma Active gaming chair was clearly built movement and ‘agility’ - being able to change positions easily and rapidly - in mind rather than outright comfort. 

There’s an emphasis on this that comes from the chair's curved feet that encourage leaning back or forward, its slimline design with no arm supports, the fabric-only design which doesn’t offer dedicated cushioning, and its general sporty look and feel (yeah, I hate that too). It’s not alone in having that focus either, with rockers being a typical style you’ll see when looking for console gaming chairs that encourage players to lean back and forward interchangeably.

But why isn’t straight-up comfort leading the way? In the Puma chair, I could barely sit up properly to get some back support with the design of the chair always forcing me to shift about. The pedestal I've gone back to is better for overall comfort, but there are still basic things that are lacking with this one too. It’s too short for a tall guy like me; there's little lower back support (if any); the seat isn't really deep enough for my legs; and all of the weight of me and the chair just goes down a central cylinder which doesn't inspire absolute confidence. The armrests are just okay, too. At least I can move it around my living room relatively easily - it’s not enormously heavy like a lot of PC gaming chairs.

Much like we see with SecretLab’s chairs that offer a range of sizes for users, console gaming chairs should do the same. I have a feeling that manufacturers are convinced that console gaming chairs are only for a younger - and therefore smaller - market, which just isn’t true. Give me a proper-sized chair with support all the way up my back to my head, comfy armrests, well-balanced base or legs, and soft cushioning all over.

Ditch the gimmicks

The XRocker Evo Elite 4.1 console gaming chair pedestal with its RGB lighting lit up in a living space

(Image credit: XRocker)

Having gone back to my Brazen Emperor pedestal, I’m more comfortable, but this still isn’t perfect. Perhaps a key fact as to why it’s not is a strange emphasis on offering something else as a key feature: built-in audio. Yes, apparently, building in speakers to console gaming chairs is a necessary feature. And it’s not even wireless, by the way, so there’s wires trailing between you and your setup which isn’t ideal (I quickly ditched using this shortly after testing the chair for review).

This is still a relatively prevalent feature. But nowadays, with sound systems and headsets being more readily available and affordable than ever - and modern TVs’ out-of-the-box audio being of impressive quality - built-in speakers are just not necessary.

I’d absolutely extend this gimmickry to RGB lighting which seems to have become a thing for console gaming chairs now too. I’d also include crowbarring pockets into seats which just feels excessive. I’d rather brands put more effort into filling whatever space or part of the design process these features take up by adding more comfort into the seat’s form, or just adding more cushioning into those areas in said chairs.

I’d throw in aesthetic gimmicks here too. I suspect the aforementioned view of this being a younger market directs the design choices but console players who are now into their 30s and 40s, having grown up with PlayStation and Xbox consoles, don’t need chairs emblazoned with Marvel character designs or gamer camo stylings. In this context, my ‘big lad’ cry is more of a ‘mature lad’ thing, but it’s no less valid. Give me something that can happily live in a living room or office, and you’re onto an absolute winner.

Sitting pretty

Several Respawn RSP-900 gaming chairs on a black background

(Image credit: Respawn)

It’s not too much to ask, and the market is there. Just put more emphasis on outright comfort throughout from seat to backrest, ensure they’re supportive for taller and heavier folks and can mirror leg length and head position, dial back the aesthetic so it becomes a more sensible bit of furniture, and refrain from adding superfluous gimmicks that run up the price. 

Away from really massive LazyBoy-type recliners, something like the Respawn 900 is perhaps the closest thing to a proper console gaming chair I’ve seen - from a distance anyway. However, that’s still built on a pedestal and has a design that’s clearly inspired by a racing game aesthetic, featuring go-faster stripes, for example.

Some might say that more traditional furniture like a reclining armchair or deliberately positioned couch is the way to go in the absence of such a gaming chair, but that sort of seems excessive - in both spatial and monetary terms. Plus, if PC gamers and those with desk setups can have their wonderfully comfortable chairs, why can’t I?

If you’re looking for more top console accessories, then check out our guides to the best PS5 headsets, best Xbox controllers, and best monitors for PS5.

Rob Dwiar
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Rob is Deputy Editor of TechRadar Gaming, a video games journalist, critic, editor, and writer, and has years of experience gained from multiple publications. Prior to being TechRadar Gaming's Deputy Editor, he was a longstanding member of GamesRadar+, being the Commissioning Editor for Hardware there for years, while also squeezing in a short stint as Gaming Editor at WePC before joining TechRadar Gaming. He is also a freelance writer on tech, gaming hardware, video games, gardens, and landscapes and is crowdfunding a book on video game landscapes that you can back and pre-order now too.