Astro Gaming has occupied the high-end of gaming headsets for esports pros. But it is moving into the affordable part of the market with the launch of the Astro A10 Gaming Headset, which will be available for as low as $60.
That means that Astro Gaming will compete with rivals such as Turtle Beach, which has about 40 percent of the retail market in the U.S. for gaming headsets. The company made the announcement at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) game trade show in Los Angeles. The headsets work on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Mac, and Windows PC. They fit comfortably over virtual reality headsets.
Normally, the company’s A40 and A50 headsets sell for hundreds of dollars. Astro Gaming started with high-quality audio components and then started shaving costs from the materials, said Aron Drayer, vice president of marketing at Astro Gaming in San Francisco, said in an interview with GamesBeat. At the $200 price and above, Astro Gaming has something like 75 percent of the market share.
He said the did a survey and found that a lot of people follow Astro Gaming, but don’t use its headsets because they are more expensive. Astro Gaming decided to address the pent-up demand for a more affordable headset.
“The data showed that a lot of people were following us who weren’t customers,” Drayer said. “We are an aspirational brand. We saw a younger consumer, one who was more price conscious.”
The wired headset is durable and it has an adjustable headband. The band is made out of one material. By contrast, high-end headsets contain a lot more different components. By reducing the number of materials, the company was able to reduce the cost.
It still has features like memory foam ear cushions for extra comfort, as well as precise voice communication with the included omni-directional microphone.
The headset is available now from major retailers and the Astro Gaming web site. You can use it without a Mixamp, plugging it directly into a game controller. Or you can also purchase a headset with a MixAmp M60 for the Xbox One for $100.
The Astro A10 features Flip-Up Mute functionality, which mutes voice output and conveniently stows the microphone when you point the mic upward. The wired connection can be easily swapped between gaming, movie, or music sources at any time. If you don’t get the MixAmp, you can’t easily adjust the voice and game volume balance. The packaging for the A10 also isn’t as elaborate as it is on the high-end gear.
It makes sense to go after the sub-$200 market, since only 15 percent of the market is above that price, and 85 percent is below. But Drayer said the company has to be careful about cannibalizing its high-end headsets.
To craft the right product, Astro Gaming spent about 18 months on the project. The company also started planning to work with a wider number of retail partners, since affordable headsets are mostly sold at big retailers.
“We felt a lot of the products at the lower prices had a toy-like quality,” Drayer said. “We want to bring our audio quality and brand into these price points. And we have commitments at retail for every single unit we can make this year.”