Joysticks and Wheels: The Winter 2002 Collection

No Rash Of New Releases

PC joysticks and wheels are going through a rough patch. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, games that require this kind of device are not what the fashion victims want at the moment. They want First Person Shooter (FPS), action and adventure, strategy and RPG (role-playing) games - the sort of games you play with a mouse and keyboard. Here, gamepads and wheels don't really offer anything novel enough to justify new releases. If your game is flight simulation and you already have a joystick with a rudder bar and throttle, why change? And the same goes for your force feedback wheel, which is still going strong and probably suits you quite well, thank you. Whether a result or symptom of a depressed market, sales have slumped a lot this year. So for a while the manufacturers turned to console-type pads, which they found easy enough to adapt or copy from the lucrative Playstation 2. But there again, it was not exactly a runaway success. A PC is not really a game platform that needs a pad simply because of the nature of the games, and because it's just often better to use a mouse, joystick or wheel. There are a few sorts of games, like team sports, which you can play better with a pad, but in that case, a basic model is quite adequate. Those slick pads that vibrate and have analog mini-sticks are really no more than unsatisfactory wheels and joysticks in disguise.