SteelSeries won our inaugural Brand of the Year contest in July, thanks in part to its role in the Esports community. With origins tracing back to the halcyon days of Counter-Strike’s prime, SteelSeries has been at the forefront of gaming peripheral advancement—driven largely by a desire to innovate competitive play.
Gear made specifically for gamers is everywhere these days, but SteelSeries were the first to produce gaming headsets, mousepads, and mechanical keyboards. Every year, their products grow more responsive and durable, while retaining a sharp look that avoids being ostentatious. Their current product range covers a spectrum of prices and features, ensuring there’s special gear catered to everyone from casual players to hardened professionals.
Innovation earned them the nomination for our award, but it was ultimately their community work that pushed SteelSeries to the award podium. 100% of revenue from their Twitch channel, which currently boasts 131k followers, is donated to a different charity each month. Causes they’ve benefitted include Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Trevor Project, both of which support marginalized communities.
2021 has seen SteelSeries invest in their esports product lines. At the forefront is the Prime series, including three mouse variations and a special Arctis headset. The Prime Pro mouse saw a special Black Ice variant as well, in a collaboration with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.
Outside the dedicated esports line, SteelSeries also released their versatile Rival 5 mouse, suited for multiple genres of games, and the Apex 3 TKL keyboard, the first water-resistant keyboard in its class.
Here are some highlights of recent SteelSeries gear that CGM has reviewed:
Arctis Prime Headset – 8/10
“SteelSeries with the Prime range are delivering peripherals at a price you can’t beat, and the Arctis Prime is no different. While it may lack some bells and whistles of the more expensive headphones in the range, the company has found a sweet spot that makes these headphones an ideal entry point for eSports or just a gamer looking for no compromise gaming audio. If you want one of the best 3.5 mm headphones you can buy, look no further than the Arctis Prime, you won’t be disappointed.”
Prime Pro Series Gaming Mouse – 8.5/10
“…a light, well-built device that, while a bit tame in terms of presentation, still serves as a reliable wingman during fast-paced games as well as a versatile productivity tool. There are definitely flashier options out there, but if you are instead looking for more substance in place of the excessive bells, whistles and glowy bits that usually come part and parcel with gaming accessories, the Prime is an excellent choice.”
Rival 5 Mouse – 9/10
“This was an excellent balance between the Rival 310 I use normally and that other MMO mouse—more buttons, but placed organically, and less of a chore to reprogram my brain to use them. Factor in the price, and this is a slam dunk.”
Apex 5 Keyboard – 9/10
“There’s enough personality, comfort, and performance to make it feel premium, while not breaking the bank. Squeaky keys and loud clicks aside, the Apex 5 is a great budget keyboard that is fun to use, and has a real sense of personality to it.”
Prime+ Mouse – 9/10
“Even in the fast-paced world of Fortnite with the frantic kinetic action, I never felt like the mouse held me back from squeaking out enough kills to not regret all my choices. If I missed shots or could not rank in the top-10, I knew it was purely skill and not the tools I had before me, and that is a good, if not soul-crushing feeling.”
Arctis 9 Wireless Headset – 9.5/10
Providing exceptional hardware for the esports community is only the tip of the iceberg for SteelSeries’ contributions to the field.
Since their inception 20 years ago, pros using SteelSeries gear have won more prize money combined than with any competing brand, speaking to the quality and usability of their gear. They are official sponsors of FaZe Clan, perhaps the biggest name in esports, as well as Team OG, the first back-to-back DOTA 2 International champions.
As official peripheral partners for several events, SteelSeries has also helped provide more opportunities for new up-and-coming players to cut their teeth. Recently the company has partnered with the Red Bull Solo Q for League of Legends, Red Bull Flick for 2-on-2 CS:GO, and the International DOTA 2 Championships, among others.
With so many events flying their banners and raising their reputation, it’s all the more admirable that SteelSeries uses their name for good. Donating stream proceeds to charities isn’t the only way the company gives back to the community—they’re also investing in their workforce and areas beyond gaming entirely.
SteelSeries is a signatory of the UN Global Compact, focusing on four of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): gender equality; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; and responsible consumption and production. To the latter point, they have committed to using 100% plant-based inks and recycled paper in inner packaging structures, while reducing material overall. For example, their Aerox mice are made with 25% less plastic, while packaging has been cut by 57% for keyboards and 47% for headsets.
“Winning in the future won’t just be about making the best gear but also making the right choices at every step of the process,” reads their official statement. “We believe doing things the right way is the only way to build a better future for gaming, for everyone, and for our planet.”
Just like training to become the best in your chosen game, progress doesn’t stop or come easily. SteelSeries has expressed that it’s working toward improving female representation in its workforce—which was 34% in 2020—and is working to follow global standards for sustainable and responsible business practices across their supply chain. This way, excelling at a sport and hobby today doesn’t have to have major consequences for future generations.
And all of this started with the desire to produce better products for competitive play. It stands as proof that with the right mindset, esports and gaming as a whole can, in fact, have a positive impact on the world around us.