Gamers OptionBy Nadia Alvarado
Taking Gaming to the Next LevelIt all started in the basement of Chris Hellebuyck's house. Chris and his friend, Tim Johnson, were high school students obsessed with playing video games, especially Call of Duty. One day, Tim mentioned to Chris that other gamers were modifying (or modding) controllers to make them shoot faster and selling them on eBay.
"Hearing that, I immediately saw money signs," Chris jokes. "Our focus became making the best modded controllers we could. Originally it was me, Tim and my dad developing these controllers. At the time it was just about us creating some really cool products and seeing how far we could push the boundaries of what the controllers could do. Now we're a full-time operation with a manufacturing facility and offices located in Commerce, Michigan."
Chris and Tim co-founded Gamers Option in 2011, which specializes in making and selling customizable modded controllers for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 game consoles. Four members of their team are "modders" who are dedicated to assembling the custom circuit boards that give the controllers the functionality for special modified gameplay actions such as:
- DropShot – Makes your character fall to the ground as soon as you start shooting to avoid return fire.
- Mimic – Instead of having to pull both controller triggers to make both guns rapid fire, you only have to pull the right trigger.
- QuickScope – This fully adjustable feature allows you to set your QuickScope timing for any sniper rifle. Once you pull the left trigger to aim, your controller will aim and fire with perfect timing.
- Sniper Breath – Allows your character to automatically hold its breath as soon as you start aiming, which allows you to focus completely on hitting your target. It does the work for you if you have to go in and out of aiming mode quickly.
Video of Gamers Option Rapid Fire Mod in Action
Soon after starting the business, Gamers Option quickly learned that they would have to keep their operation nimble if they wanted to survive in an industry where the landscape is constantly changing.
"One of the biggest issues that plagued us early on were the changes Microsoft and Sony would make to their controllers," Chris said. "Our modded controllers work by running our custom circuitry alongside an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller's circuitry. When Microsoft or Sony makes a change to their controllers, everything comes to a halt at Gamers Option until we're able to adapt to the new circuitry. That can be really tough, especially when you had no idea that a change was coming."
There has been one constant through the years though – gamers requesting an "Auto Aim" function for online gameplay. Chris said that's never going to happen.
"As an industry leader, we are often asked if our modded controllers offer the Auto Aim feature for online play," Chris said. "Modded controllers can only simulate button presses that a human can normally do – it just does it much faster and fluently. Auto Aim does not exist within our industry for online gameplay."
More than 18,000 customers visit Gamers Option every month to check out their ready-to-ship modded controllers. Customers can also use a Build Your Own Controller option to design the look of the controller – from shell color to light up joysticks to buttons that look like bullets.
Although being able to customize a controller to do exactly what you want and to look how you want is desirable, what really makes Gamers Option's controllers unique is how easy they are to use.
"We have seen competitors – time and time again – release a new modded controller that is loaded with features but are far too complicated to operate," Chris said. "That can almost make it useless! Our controllers are the only ones that allow the customer to pull it out of the box and immediately start playing with it. You won't find that anywhere else in the industry. We continue to lead the way in making modded controllers understandable for every age level."
Another competitive advantage Gamers Option enjoys is using Jameco as a supplier for their electronic components.
"Whether it is the microchip that powers our custom circuitry or the wire that makes the connections, I can honestly say that Jameco products are used in every single one of our custom modded controllers," Chris said. "In a custom business like ours, Jameco's consistency is priceless. We know the components we need will ship and be delivered on the day we need them, and because of that, we've almost completely eliminated ‘hiccups’ from that part of our business."
Future plans for Gamers Option include moving to a larger facility, expanding the size of their team and releasing modded controllers for the PS4 and Xbox One.
"We plan to continue to innovate and build the greatest modded controllers for our customers. We've developed many new features for our future products and we know our greatest work is on its way! We're excited to have everyone along for the ride."
Check out all the controllers at Gamers Option.
Nadia Alvarado has a master's degree in Journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree in Economics from San Diego State University. She is from San Diego, California. Her interests include comedy, comic books, board games, movies and watching too much TV.