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Logitech acquires joystick maker Saitek (update)

But what does it mean for Mad Catz ... and Star Citizen?

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Peripherals manufacturer Logitech recently acquired the Saitek brand and the Saitek line of controller products. Logitech announced the news yesterday in a blog post, calling it an "exciting day for Logitech" and heralding Saitek as the "go-to" source for fans of spacefaring and simulation-style games.

But questions remain about the stability of Saitek’s previous owner, Mad Catz, and about the future of Saitek’s long-awaited, custom controller for Chris Roberts’ upcoming game, Star Citizen.

Mad Catz purchased U.K.-based Saitek in 2007 for $30 million. The company went on to produce its two most popular devices, the X-52 in 2008 and the X-55 in 2014. While the X-52 is considered by many to be the gold standard for spacefaring games (it’s been modeled into the in-game cockpits in Elite: Dangerous since that game’s inception), the X-55 has remained popular with hardcore fans of terrestrial flight sims.

But many have complained about a drop in the quality of Saitek devices since Mad Catz took over. Marketplaces like Amazon and NewEgg are full of customer reviews citing defective or shoddy products.

Last April, Mad Catz announced that it would co-publish Rock Band 4 along with developer Harmonix. In July 2015, Mad Catz was required to notify investors that its dependence on sales from Rock Band 4 raised "substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern." In February of 2016, the Mad Catz CEO resigned ahead of its annual earnings report. The next day the company announced it would lay off 37 percent of its staff.

Polygon has reached out to Saitek and Logitech in order to learn more about their partnership with the team behind Star Citizen. An ambitious prototype, unveiled in October 2015, combined a hands-on throttle and stick with a tenkeyless keyboard and a numeric keypad. But it had also integrated many features of the Mad Catz STRIKE line of keyboards.

Update: Reached for comment about the future of the Star Citizen controller, Logitech representatives declined to make a statement. Instead, they chose to speak about Saitek more generally.

"We won’t comment on future roadmaps," wrote a Logitech spokesperson via email, "but we’ll be in touch when we have something new to announce. However, we do believe this line has yet to reach its full potential."

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