ROCCAT has been a celebrated member of the PC gaming community for over a decade, most recently bringing us hits like the Vulcan 120 gaming keyboard and the Kain 120 AIMO gaming mouse. But the scratch of the record came when Turtle Beach, a company primarily known for its output of console peripherals, snapped up ROCCAT last year.
Turtle Beach isn't exactly a stranger to gaming PCs, dipping a toe in the water with its Atlas gaming headset back in 2018, but its relative lack of presence in that market prior to now naturally raises questions from fans of ROCCAT who want to see their favourite brand keep its focus. If you’re at all worried, then we have some good news for you, straight from ROCCAT Founder René Korte, himself:
“This is the best place and opportunity to reassure our fans. ROCCAT will stay a PC peripheral brand, and Turtle Beach will stay focused on the console market. Our heritage is PC gaming, and we are dedicated to PC gaming.”
In fact, René, who’s now transitioned over to general manager for PC peripherals at Turtle Beach, says that the acquisition provides the feline-headed firm with more resources, better infrastructure, and audio expertise to “push PC gaming forward” so that ROCCAT can “work faster and introduce a wider range of products.” After all, it’s a company that’s already come so far.
“Back in 2007, I was part of the MTW clan and was professionally playing Quake 2 when I first had the idea to found my own PC accessory company,” René tells us. “There weren’t that many PC gaming accessory brands at the time, and the choice was still rather limited. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what the market had to offer, and I started coming up with my own ideas of what a gaming mouse should be. More than that, I wanted to create a brand with an identity that stood out from the rest, in design and functionality, and one that could become a real tool to enhance a gamer’s performance.”
This resulted in the ROCCAT Kone, an award-winning gaming mouse which René calls a “special project” designed by those with a “passion for innovation” – some of which are still working at ROCCAT and Turtle Beach to this day. It first debuted at the Games Convention in 2008, an event which was succeeded by the much snappier-titled Gamescom we all know and love.
“We longed to create a new vision of what a gaming mouse could be: its ergonomics, its technology, the way it glides on a mouse pad,” René recalls. “We really looked at what this product could become by fine tuning every aspect of it. Now it seems very basic that a mouse has RGB or high DPIs or even high-quality skates that allow gamers to feel in control of their mouse, but back then all these features were true challenges. Coming up with features like customisable weights, for example, was a milestone for us because we were proving that you can change the way you play.
“But, most importantly, at that stage esports was just emerging. Like in any other sports discipline, I felt like gamers should have the possibility of owning a stylish product to game with. I like using the example of snowboarding or even skating. We know how people like to have stylish boards that they have a personal connection to. I felt the same about gaming accessories. Let’s give gamers a product that they can customise and show off at LAN events.”
Naturally, esports plays a big part in how ROCCAT designs its products, given René’s experience as a former professional player. But the company holds a ‘no gamer left behind’ mantra in that the driving force leans more towards the larger PC gaming community. Whether it’s a gaming mouse, keyboard, or headset, pro gamers like MrSavage need the best tools to win, but ROCCAT never wants this to come at the expense of the casual player. There will always be upgraded models, but entry-level products should still stand up to their bigger brothers in terms of quality.
This ethos has been carried throughout the years, which is why the first Kone set the bar higher than most for ROCCAT’s first release. The developers keep their ear to the ground, listening to what people want and adapting to feedback, which is how the now-iconic Kone shape was developed so early on, only requiring slight overhauls on the latest Kone.
The Kone isn’t alone in ROCCAT’s arsenal, however, as its portfolio has rapidly expanded over the years to include more than gaming mice. Computex 2018 saw the introduction of the very first Vulcan 120 gaming keyboard, complete with an anodised plate, wrist rest, and mechanical switches. Far more than just a sum of its parts, though, the original Vulcan 120 sparked a whole new design language and trajectory ROCCAT has been following for the past five years and a prolific partnership that continues to this day.
The Vulcan 120 (2018) was a landmark moment for ROCCAT, being the first time the company had worked on its own switch. The Titan Switch Tactile was made in cooperation with TTC to rival the Cherry MX Brown switch. These lay beneath fully transparent housing that let ROCCAT’s AIMO lighting shine through while proudly displaying the internals much like supercars sometimes do. Plus, they all have ‘ROCCAT’ emblazoned on them as a nice personal touch.
These design elements have evolved through the different iterations, from Titan Switch Linears on the Vulcan 121 to the Vulcan 122 gaming keyboard with white keycaps. 2020 has gone a step further, ushering in the Titan Switch Optical across the latest Vulcan 120, Vulcan Pro, and Vulcan TKL Pro gaming keyboards, reading keystrokes significantly faster than their analogue counterparts.
“The advantage we feel we have over competitors with their own optical products, is that we team this impressive new technology with the strong, durable, award-winning design of our Vulcan series,” explains René.
The same goes for the Burst gaming mouse series, which adapts the same optical technology to get rid of delay in its Burst Core and Burst Pro clickers. Both sport a honeycomb design for a lightweight approach, only really differing in their sensors – the Burst Core features an 8,500dpi PixArt PMW3331 optical sensor, while the Pro ramps things up with a custom Owl-Eye sensor based on the PixArt PMW 3389 that achieves up to 16,000dpi.
ROCCAT’s Elo gaming headsets are the mavericks of the bunch, being the “first products which truly show the benefits of working under the Turtle Beach umbrella.” Working hand-in-hand with dedicated audio engineers with as much experience as those at Turtle Beach ups the ante and has spawned products that René is particularly proud of.
All these new gadgets are ROCCAT’s most pre-ordered and best-selling products to date, and it isn’t stopping there. René believes the future of the company is as bright as its AIMO intelligent lighting, with ROCCAT doubling down on its community-led approach.
“While we do like teasing what’s to come from ROCCAT, we also want to keep a few surprises up our sleeve, for now,” René says. “What I can say is 2021 will definitely be an exciting year for our fans. As I said earlier, we want to spread the ROCCAT core values of experience and performance to more PC accessories and broaden our product portfolio.
“However, we will always keep in mind that we want to innovate where it is needed. Think of where ROCCAT can be a game changer, where ROCCAT can add value and offer something new and well thought out. From software to hardware, we are ready for 2021 and that’s what you can expect from us in the near future.”