Logitech looks to the pros to perfect its peripherals

Gaming guys
Testing peripherals isn't a bad moonlighting gig

This is the second article from the author's time spent on a tour of Logitech's testing facilities in Switzerland.

Seated in Logitech's Lausanne, Switzerland testing facility and sporting a brimless baseball cap emblazoned with a big blue "G," former professional gamer Andy Dinh offered a first-hand account of what it's like to test products for the peripheral maker.

"We have a really good relationship ... they really take our feedback seriously," he said.

Based on Dinh's choice of head wear - the "G" is the logo for Logitech's line of pro-grade gaming peripherals - you could be forgiven for dismissing his remarks as those of another sponsored eSports athlete singing the praises of their perks-giving partner.

I was a bit skeptical when Logitech invited me, along with other journalists, to its Alps-surrounded headquarters for a tour of its labs and a chance to speak with some of its engineers and sponsored pro-gamers. Members of Cloud9, an e-sports team competing in everything from Counter Strike to Super Smash Bros., Halo to Hearthstone, and Team SoloMid, which specializes in League of Legends, were on hand, though Logitech sponsors a dozen teams in total.

After talking with the professionals who rely on these products to help make their income, however, I came away with the sense the company's mantra of "Gamers are our focus" was more than just a marketing-spun line spawned to sell more mice.

It's not just about the perks

Dinh, the 22-year-old captain of Team SoloMid, and Jason Tran, a.k.a. "WildTurtle," one of the eSports athletes on Dinh's team, revealed how they help design Logitech's gamer-centric products.

"There's a whole process of testing," began Dinh. "They send a team and products to our house in Santa Monica way in advance for testing. We test, say, a mouse for months and tell them what we like and don't like about it. They value our feedback ... it's actually more of a partnership, where we help them develop the products.

"They give us prototypes and let us see everything, then we test it," added Tran. "They make equipment based on the feedback we give them."

When pressed for a specific example of where Team SoloMid's extensive testing may have resulted in a peripheral being tweaked with their tastes in mind, Tran offered this: "The G302 model [Logitech's Daedalus Prime, a dedicated MOBA mouse] used to be a lot smaller ... it felt really uncomfortable sometimes. Now it feels great ... it fits in your palm perfectly."

Tran and gaming guys

Tran (far left) with other Logitech-sponsored eSports team members

When I spoke with Logitech's senior director of engineering, Maxine Marini, later in the day, he cited the same example, but added the goal was also to make the G302 a peripheral pro players could use for at least 10 hours a day (the average time an eSports athlete practices) without experiencing any discomfort.

Marini offered another example regarding a mouse he declined to name, when the professionals' feedback led to a halt in development shortly before the peripheral was to hit the production line.

"We changed a mouse that was too heavy just a few weeks before mass production; we stopped everything and decided we needed to cut 8-10 grams from its weight. My team had to do plenty of overtime, but we listen to the pros, and if we need to change something, even right up to the last minute, we change it."

Not every Logitech G product needs to get the pro-gamer seal of approval before hitting store shelves, of course. And while eSports competitors certainly enjoy some pampering and perks courtesy of their sponsors, they also act serve as a resource for Logitech, one it considers when designing and producing its products.