We all know the struggle – wanting a GOOD controller or headset, but not having enough cash to splash out on the official manufacturer ones (or even the well-known third-party brands at times). The kinds of peripherals that can be afforded on a budget generally look and feel pretty cheap, and often lack some functionality. That sucks.

A company that has been on the periphery of the UK gaming scene for a little while now is ‘Performance Designed Products’, more commonly known as ‘PDP Gaming’ (I’ll shorten it to PDP going forward, you can thank me later). Based mostly in the United States, but with small offices in Europe and China too, this accessory upstart has been creating products mainly for the Xbox One and PC platforms for some time now. They were even granted an official license by Microsoft, so items like their Xbox headsets proudly boast their recognisable logo, lending it an immediate air of quality that some rivals don’t have – Microsoft have to be certain that the products live up to their exacting brand standards in order to grant a license.

PDP is eager for people to get hands-on with their peripherals to see how good they really are, and so they put together a press event in London to show off their various ranges to journalists, bloggers, social media influencers and folks like me who sit somewhere in the middle. I was happy to be invited to cover the event by VG Culture HQ as it was an opportunity to see friends who were also attending. Being honest, I was expecting the evening to be rather dull other than that, with a few stuffy PR types showing us some okay controllers and serviceable headsets. To my surprise, however, we were shown around tables filled with things I instantly wanted to add to my Amazon wish list by the friendly and informative Olivier from PDP’s French office.

Taking place in the basement of Loading in Dalston, a gaming bar (very fitting), we were already surrounded with video game posters, shelves of retro gaming goodness and TVs on which games like Fifa 20 and Super Smash Bros Ultimate were available for play – with PDP controllers of course. It was an ideal setting, if not a little bit of a tight squeeze as more and more people arrived. However, we still got a good look at all of the wares they had on show, and I was very impressed by what I saw.

PDP Gaming Event London

As I came down the stairs, a small table had been set up in a dark corner just outside the main room to display their light-up collectibles – Pixel Pals. With a pixel art aesthetic, you could say that these are a variation on the massively popular Pop! figures by Funko. On show were the likes of Mario, Sonic and Lara Croft, although the line isn’t limited to just video game characters. I’ve always been skeptical about collectibles like these, but the light-up aspect of Pixel Pals caught my attention, as did the 8-bit look. They feel much more like a video game collectible than competing brands. I’m personally considering adding a few to my gaming room as they are super cute.

Walking into the room itself, the first table of products held a rainbow assortment of wired Xbox One pads. These look and feel very solid, and very close to the official versions. The big differences here are mainly the sheer variety of colours and patterns available to suit almost any taste, but there are also functional additions too. Two programmable buttons have been added to the underside of the pad, along with built-in audio controls. Though there’s no support for Microsofts proprietary headsets, with their controls which sit snuggly between the grips, PDP has instead cleverly included a 3.5mm audio port for universal headsets and a small button next to the right analog stick which allows control of sound levels with the help of the d-pad. Though this is a wired pad, the cable handily detaches both for easy storage and to help prevent damage from those inevitable clumsy trips. Best of all they retail for less than £25, and those built-in audio controls mean that you could use the headset that came with your phone instead of forking out for a separate gaming one.

PDP Gaming Event London

The main reason for PDP putting on this event was its launch into the Switch market. As with Microsoft, they have acquired an official license so the Switch logo appears on the products, and they’ve also even gone so far as to create a line of Pokemon products. The first Switch accessory to catch my eye though was their ‘Rock Candy’ controller collection. These wired pads feature a translucent design with bright primary colours in a smaller form factor. Aimed more at kids, these still felt comfortable in my 35-year-old hands, and with a retail price of £17.99 they could well become popular with those keen on couch co-op.

Speaking of, a line of themed USB Gamecube-style controllers were on display. Alongside the usual Super Mario Bros variations (Mario red, Luigi green, Peach… white?) they also had Zelda and Pokemon versions. These are very much ‘Gamecube-style’ though, as they omit the analog triggers of the actual pad in favour of digital, so those of you hoping to use it for GRID Autosport will still need the original version. As a cheap alternative for Smash aficionados though, they feel good in the hand and include the plus, minus, capture and home buttons in the centre – which is handy!

Something potentially game-changing for the Switch though is their range of Pro-like wired pads. Retailing for £24.99, these mimic PDP’s Xbox pads in adding programmable buttons and built-in audio control, with the difference being that Nintendo themselves don’t support voice chat via the console itself. First-party games that support voice chat on the Switch do so via a mobile phone app, meaning the console doesn’t natively handle chat functionality. However, when Fortnite released on the system it introduced Vivox chat support built right into the code of the game. Plugging your 3.5mm headset into the Switch when handheld meant you could suddenly chat with your teammates without needing your phone. Of course, this also meant you had to play in handheld mode, but with the ‘Faceoff Deluxe Audio Wired Controller,’ you can finally play Fortnite (and all the other games that now support Vivox integrated voice chat, like Overwatch) on the big screen in docked mode.

If you really wanted to splash out on a dedicated headset to really look the part, PDP have you covered there too. They have a neon red and blue stereo headset that also sells for £24.99. They’ve been able to very closely match the colours from the iconic Joy-Cons, so they do look very nice. As does their LED colour-changing Prismatic pad, which swaps the replaceable faceplates of the ‘Faceoff’ range (while keeping the audio functionality and extra buttons) for a transparent light-up design which is very pretty indeed. They do a wireless version of this too, however, this drops the audio support, due to technical constraints. The wired version retails for £29.99 while the wireless version is £44.99.

In terms of cases, PDP have gone all out. They are releasing an entire range of Pokemon-themed carriers in time for the release of Sword and Shield, so you can take your Switch out and about with the pride of a true Pokemon trainer. However, even more impressive were the, dare I say it, classier looking solutions. With the grey and black aesthetic of the original Switch console, and a flash of Nintendo red around the zips, these not only look and feel like premium pieces of kit, but the variation in styles provides functionality for any situation. There is a fairly standard case which comes in the ‘Starter Kit’ package, but it is their ‘Commuter Case’ and ‘Pull-N-Go Case’ which really caught my attention. The ‘Commuter’ provides enough space for not only the Switch itself (or a Switch Lite, which this is compatible with too) but also game cards, headphones, extra Joy-Con controllers, a Pro Controller and a charging cable! The case has a carry handle, and when closed you could mistake it for a swanky looking toiletry bag if not for the Switch logo embossed into the faux leather trim.

The ‘Pull-N-Go’ is really where it’s at for me though. This has a strap and feels more like a camera bag to hold. The case comes in two sections. The larger bottom section can hold the Switch dock, associated cables, headphones, two additional sets of Joy Cons and a Pro controller. Even better, these are all stored in such a way that you can just pull each component out from the top with no need to root through to find what you’re looking for. ‘Pull-N-Go’ indeed! The other feature that gives this case its name is the top section. This is essentially just a basic console case, capable of holding the device with attached Joy Cons and a few game cards. However, it is attached to the bottom part of the case with a large velcro pad, meaning you can remove it should you not require the entire case. This 2-in-1 case is, therefore, the ideal solution for those who sometimes take their whole setup over to a friend’s house, and also use the Switch on their commute. By the way, the velcro on the detachable console case is female and therefore won’t catch your clothes. PDP are nice like that. The cases range in price, however, they’re all reasonable considering their functionality.

A few other honourable mentions from the event are the ‘Light Up Dock Shield’ which does exactly what it says. It’s essentially a stand for your Switch dock with a colour-changing LED panel at the front. You can change between a Super Mario Odyssey and Breath Of The Wild theme for the shield itself, which is a nice touch. As far as other Xbox One and PS4 accessories go, there were media remotes for both consoles, and very nice ‘Ultra Slim’ controller charging docks which allow you essentially just put down the controller when you’re done playing to start it charging. No awkward fiddling required. Another £24.99 price point there, which makes me wonder if they’ve done some kind of market research into the price at which people generally bite on accessories.

PDP Gaming Event London

I lastly wanted to mention the other headsets that were on show. PDP carries a range of chat headsets for both the PS4 and Xbox One, ranging from the basic to the deluxe. They all looked very nice, but as a thank you for attending the event we were all given a PS4 ‘LVL50 Wireless Stereo Headset’. In the UK these lack the PlayStation branding they carry in the States, but the wireless dongle is designed to be used specifically in the PS4 and not the Xbox One. I did test this out to be sure, but I was unable to get them working on Microsoft’s console. On my PS4 though, they work flawlessly. I used them to watch an episode of Drag Race UK while my partner slept. They have a premium look and feel about them, with satisfying functions such as a mic that turns itself off when flipped up.

The reason I wanted to mention this freebie though was not to gloat. As it turns out, while it doesn’t work at all with the Xbox One, it does work with the Nintendo Switch. You heard me right. Plug the wireless dongle into the USB port of the dock and the console recognises it right away as a USB headset. Turn on the headset itself and both game and chat audio will fill your ears (as of writing I can’t find a way to separate the two feeds), and in games that support Vivox you can chat away – yep, the flip up muting mic works too. There was no need for me to go into the settings to get it working either, it just worked right off the bat. I was extremely surprised and impressed. PDP don’t advertise this fact (perhaps they don’t know themselves?), but to have a gaming headset with the quality and functionality of the ‘LVL50’ work with two consoles is pretty damn great. I don’t know if the Xbox One version also works with the Switch, but if so then this may well be the best premium headset for those of us who own more than one console. It is priced a bit more highly than their other accessories at £69.99, but the dual-use and the ability to play and chat completely wirelessly on the Switch makes it well worth it in my view.

I left the event, as I said at the start, with a long list of new peripherals I want to add to my collection. PDP is going out of their way to create products which improve the quality of life of gamers in various ways, and they ought to be applauded for that. The fact that their pricing is also very competitive is the icing on the cake. While there is an abundance of choice on the Xbox and PlayStation, the same can’t be same for the Switch. It’s great that they’re seeing this gap in the market for those who can’t afford another £70 pair of Joy-Cons or £55 Pro controller, for those who want to chat with their team in docked mode, for those with kids who each want their own small-hand friendly pad, and are catering to it with quality. And what a bunch of lovely people they are too! Not a stuffy PR type in sight.

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