Astro has been a huge name in the gaming peripheral space for quite some time from it lineup of headsets mixamps, and, most recently, controllers. Either you, someone in your Overwatch group, or your favorite streamer has something in the Astro family. Although that hardware has always been relegated to the prebuilt designs that gave users what they wanted but perhaps not how they wanted it. Sure, people could buy mod kits for their headsets but that is going to be greatly expanded upon with Astro.ID. It’s the company’s new approach to customization where choosing what you want goes beyond picking simple speaker tags as it’ll allow for more mixing, matching, and a greater range of overall choices.
Astro.ID is starting next month in the United States and is a piecemeal approach to customization for the A40 TR, the company’s tournament ready headset. The microphone, speaker tags, ear cushion, wire, head cushion, and outer frame can all be individually colored according to the user’s wishes, something the interactive 3D model on the website will be able to show in the coming weeks when it launches at an undetermined date in October. Those colors will be black, white, red, pink, blue, and yellow and whatever combination they pick will be built and at the player’s doorstep in two weeks.
While not the most unexpected lineup of hues, it’s a solid batch to kick off this initiative with as those are the colors that the most amount of people will probably like. And it still allows for quite a large amount of customization, given the thousands of possible permutations that seemingly small sampling allows. I experienced this firsthand as I heavily debated my choices before finally settling on a red, white, and black color scheme. In addition to describing how hard it was to get every shade exactly right, VP of Marketing at Astro Gaming, Aron Drayer, also explained how the process behind picking headset colors and how it always has some sort of reason behind it.
“A40s in a variety of colors have been popular with our customers since our original BxR A40 colors, which were blue, green and red,” he said. “These tones took inspiration from Halo multiplayer. Later colors took inspiration from games like Saints Row 3, or from community requests like the original neon pink A40s. These colors also have a thematic tie, inspired by the hyper bright colors in games like Overwatch and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 title.”
Colors for every occasion
However, these colors won’t be around forever. Drayer said that Astro “expect[s] to launch a whole new set of colors with a new thematic inspiration,” which is a cryptic way to say that the palette will likely change in anticipation of some upcoming mystery game. Perhaps there will be an orange bundle for a hypothetical Sunset Overdrive sequel or a green bundle of parts for Halo Infinite, which would be a solid callback to the aforementioned Halo-inspired headsets. Regardless, new adopters won’t be left out in the cold.
“Our goal is to rotate colors and graphics on things like speaker tags and headbands annually, so these colors won’t be around forever,” he said. “By PAX West 2020 we expect to launch a whole new set of colors with a new thematic inspiration. Of course, all A40 Astro.ID parts are modular, so you can mix your 2019 parts with your 2020 headset too.”
That modularity lets players express themselves in a granular way not typically seen in these sorts of headsets. But, more broadly, it also speaks to where video game culture currently is. While it’s usually embroiled in controversy about loot boxes, players love customizing their in-game avatar. Plenty of genres from RPGs to fighting games to almost every online multiplayer title has an absurd amount of customization and many people love playing dress up. It lets players invest a little more in their experience knowing they crafted it. Drayer related Astro.ID to that mentality.
“From the earliest days of Astro, we knew customization was important to gamers,” he explained. “That’s why we designed our Speaker Tag system into our first product, the A40 headset. From there we’ve added speaker customization to other products like A30 and A38, hardware customization to the C40 controller, and software customization across our entire lineup. Gamers love to stand out and feel unique, whether it’s their headset or their Fortnite skin. Being able to customize A40s in Astro.ID takes things to the next level.”
Looking to the future
Although this next level doesn’t include the, well, next level of Astro products nor does it pertain to the mixamps or recently released controller, for that matter. This is just the first phase so the spiffy A50s and other hardware don’t yet have this level of customization. Some of the more hardcore fans might scoff at that exclusion, and while it is a tad disappointing, that doesn’t mean that it is completely off the calendar. Drayer hinted that this initiative will go beyond the A40s and grow in the future.
“We’re definitely considering what other products could make sense for the Astro.ID program looking ahead. Many of our products share the modular construction elements of the A40 TR,” he said, hinting at ID going to other hardware. “We wanted to focus on one product and region first and see how customers react and what kind of options they want. Then we will potentially look at expanding the product lineup and distribution into more global regions.”
Regardless of the future plans, the A40s were a good place to start for ID because of how solid the headset is on its own without any sort of cosmetic flourishes. The customized Astro A40s are still the same A40s, meaning they have all the same positive attributes. They’re incredibly comfortable with their leather ear and head cushions, fit snugly because of the easily adjustable levers, have a long, durable cable, and, most importantly, provide excellent sound. It was a fantastic headset before and it’s still a great headset, but it’s just your great headset this time around.
Astro provided GameRevolution with a pair of Astro A40 TRs.