An entire category of consumer electronics devices – gaming mice – is quietly undergoing a major leap forward in capability, and it’s happening as we speak. And it’s exciting!
Since the dawn of esports, wired mice were considered indispensable for serious gamers seeking the utmost in performance, but times have changed – technology has changed – and wireless mice are coming to market soon that will completely close the performance gap between wired and wireless once and for all. And once this happens, just as we’ve seen in countless other categories of electronic devices, wired mice will largely be a thing of the past.
How did we arrive at this moment? What’s changed in the technology/connectivity landscape to make this possible?
BREAKING FROM THE PAST
Wireless gaming mice have slowly been making inroads into professional gaming competitions since at least 2017, when a League of Legends player became the first professional gamer to use a wireless mouse in competition. This was big news, since wireless gaming mice provide a major competitive advantage over wired mice: no physical tethers to slow or impede game play.
The emergence of pro-caliber wireless gaming mice was made possible by the underlying shift from Bluetooth to 2.4 GHz short-range wireless connectivity. Suddenly it was possible to boost polling rates up to 1,000 Hz, making wireless mice more competitive with their wired counterparts, which were capable of 2,000 Hz at the time.
Today, premium wired gaming mice are capable of 8000 Hz polling rates, and this is widely considered to be the performance benchmark that wireless mice must attain to be fully competitive. Innovative mouse vendors have tried to keep up by tweaking 2.4 GHz implementations to push polling rates as high as 4,000 Hz to deliver improved gameplay that approaches wired-caliber performance.
But 2.4 GHz – just like Bluetooth before it – has reached its performance ceiling. Even today, sustained 4,000 Hz performance is hard to deliver with 2.4 GHz (never mind the numerous interference challenges introduced at 2.4 GHz).
Going forward, 2.4 GHz offers no discernible upgrade path to 6,000 Hz or 8,000 Hz, and a new connectivity standard for wireless gaming mice is needed to achieve the next performance plateau.
UWB IS THE FUTURE
2.4 GHz was embraced by the gaming peripherals market because it was, excuse the pun, the only game in town at the time capable of outperforming Bluetooth in wireless peripherals. Today, wireless mice based on 2.4 GHz are currently lingering around the edges among ‘Best Mice for Esports’ product reviews, with PC Magazine recently acknowledging that “historically, most gamers would scoff at the idea of using a wireless mouse for competitive play.”
But that’s all changing. SPARK UWB has arrived to break the performance ceiling for wireless gaming mice, delivering performance that starts at 4,000 Hz polling rates, with a clear roadmap to 8,000 Hz.
For serious gamers seeking the agility of wireless gameplay, this transition can’t happen soon enough! And for the really serious gamers, the extreme polling rate isn’t even the most exciting aspect of the UWB value proposition. It’s the low latency that gets their attention, and we’ll go into more detail here in a later blog post.
It was perhaps inevitable that wired gaming mice would be among the last consumer electronic device categories to transition to wireless. Uncompromising performance is essential in esports – it’s the difference between victory and defeat.
Working collaboratively with our gaming customers, SPARK is innovating behind the scenes to bring the next generation of wireless gaming mice to market, with exciting announcements planned throughout 2023. Watch this space!