4 June 2008
Dynamic Diversions(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 02,2008)
Video Game Accessories
The arcane world of video game accessories is evolving and expanding in a myriad of exciting ways
No longer simple joysticks used to control basic animated stories, video game accessories today embrace everything from music to fitness and much, much more.
Once a niche market and considered by some as a curiosity in the mid-1970s, the computer and video game industry took in some US$9.5bn in the US alone in 2007, according to the Entertainment Software Association's latest annual report.
Sales tracker NPD Group added that software sales were up 63% in March this year compared with March 2007, while equipment sales climbed 46% over the same period.
Demonstrating the industry's strong growth, Nintendo recently announced that it would increase its monthly production of Wii video game consoles from 1.8 million to 2.4 million.
This move comes in response to a predicted upturn related to the recent introduction of three new video game consoles: the Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.
New consoles mean new games and motivated buyers, and a quick glance through the latest product catalogues from Hong Kong manufacturers reveals everything from traditional boxing gloves, tennis racquets, golf clubs and baseball gloves to a revolver.
Whatever the latest trends, Solar Tune Electronics Ltd Sales Manager Stanley Chan says it's good, old-fashioned fundamentals that matter when producing a successful video game accessory. "Durability and good looks are very important in our products and so is affordability," he avers.
A leading electronic games specialist, Solar has developed a full series of LCD games of its own design. "Nowadays we are also developing plug-and-play TV games and TFT display portable games," Mr Chan says. "We can also handle OEM and ODM projects with our in-house resources."
The company currently produces electronic tennis racquets, golf clubs, baseball gloves, shooting and darts products, among others. "They are similar to Nintendo products but also very different because they use infrared technology - which means that there are no patent issues," Mr Chan explains.
Typical of Solar's catalogue is model SV1021, a 7-in-1 wireless, plug-and-play sports game that offers tennis, golf, baseball, bowling, darts, shooting and ring pastimes in one compact console. "Our products are unit-priced around the US$13 mark," Mr Chan adds.
Also forgoing wires is Yika Creative Ltd, which produces an array of TV game accessories - including bright, colourful guitars designed to delight any budding pop star.
Marketing Assistant Andrew Wong says the company's wireless creations can be played anywhere in the home within a three-metre radius of the receiver and with the correct CD software. "They can be plugged in to either the TV or the PC and come in various colourful designs," he adds.
Models M-001 and M-002 that offer PS2/Wii and PC and 3-in-1 compatible guitar games exemplify Yika's commitment to providing fun toys and games that also encourage children to learn.
The edu-toys and games accessory specialist developer takes pride in creating and manufacturing professional products incorporating the latest technology.
Yika's in-house assets include R&D, market research, sales, bonding, silk-screen and embossed printing and PVC departments spread between the China factory and the Hong Kong office.
"All our products reach international safety standards and have been tested for reliability and long life," Mr Wong assures. "We make sure our products meet with different countries' required testing standards."
Making a real fight of the contest to develop and produce the most popular video games accessory is HM Global Ltd, which manufactures an innovative inflatable boxing creation that fits like a glove to the Wii Sports pack.
Sales Manager Sanvia Cheung says the model HM-W3315 boxing gloves, which come in a stylish black colour with red trim, are designed and developed to augment the Wii console boxing game. "They enhance the game with their inflatable design, which allows the controller to match the player's hands," she explains.
A leading manufacturer and exporter of consumer electronic products pecialising in AV products, AV game accessories and iPod and mobile phone accessories, HM Global's "strong" R&D capability ensures it meets buyer specifications.
"We have more than 500 models in our product range," Ms Cheung reveals. "Our experienced engineers and industry knowledge allow us to incorporate the latest features into buyer customisation projects."
She adds that HM Global has the manufacturing capability to meet volume demands. "We also have close relationships with more than 300 materials suppliers, providing adequate resources to meet production needs," Ms Cheung insists. "On-time delivery can be assured."
The company's strict QC & QA inspections also meet stringent standards. "We aim to provide quality products," Ms Cheung maintains. "We have professional staff testing incoming materials and in-process assemblies, performing outgoing checks and inspecting the finished product."
HM Global welcomes OEM and ODM orders. "Our markets are worldwide," Ms Cheung concludes, adding that the company's game accessories are priced at approximately US$4 per unit FOB Hong Kong.
Buyers wanting to cash in on the video games and accessories boom clearly need to take a second look and snap up these dynamic diversions that promise plenty of profit.
TEXT BY NIALL FRASER