There Needs To Be A Better Way To Sell Gaming Mice

A little while ago, I received a whole bunch of mice for testing from ZOWIE. But instead of receiving one or twice mice, I got a box with several - and that reminded me of a very real problem gamers face when buying a new mouse.

Everyone knows one or two gamers who have a habit of buying way too much stuff in one particular area. Maybe's it's retro games. Maybe it's everything on Steam. Maybe it's NES cartridges off eBay. Maybe you just like collecting old consoles. Maybe that person is you.

It's a vice I have as well, but with gaming mice.

At one point, I had a drawer that was filled with nothing but gaming mice. And that's because the only way to find the perfect mouse involved either buying a new one, or borrowing one from someone else. And given that people tend not to loan out their gaming mice very often, you often had to suck it and see.

Which brings me back to the box of ZOWIE mice recently.

A matter of centimetres.

Part of the reason ZOWIE sent several devices was the same reason they, and other companies, make so many variations to begin with. Everyone has different sized hands. Some large, some small. Some are wider than others. Some people have longer fingers. And everyone holds mice differently: some rest their palm atop the surface, others prefer fingertip grips, others like to keep their knuckles raised in a claw-like fashion.

And just like the human hand, each mice has subtle differences too. The ZA11 and ZA12 have a difference of 2mm at the front, the width, and 3mm at the base. One's 5 grams lighter. The EC1-B is 5mm fatter than the EC2-B at the base, 4 grams heavier, and 8 grams longer from head to toe.

We're talking mere millimetres here. It's such a small difference, that you can't really tell whether your hand would be better suited without a proper roadtest.

Because people don't want to keep throwing cash at the wall, gamers have been looking for other methods to try and at least narrow down what mice they should be thinking about. One method, proposed by YouTuber and Aussie Quake player Zy Rykoa, is to measure your hand.

After you've measured the length and width of your hand, Rykoa recommends multiplying that amount by 0.6. By his calculations, 60% of your hand matches up to what would roughly be the most comfortable. It's not a perfect calculation: the measurements change slightly if you use a palm grip compared to a fingertip grip, and again if you're a palm user.

So while getting some measurements helps, it's still no replacement for roadtesting a mouse yourself.

Speaking of ZOWIE mice, they're pretty straightforward offerings. There's no pesky software to install, there's plenty of variety for hands of all sizes, the cables aren't braided, their optical sensors are fantastic, the Huano switches are reliable and the mice can take several accidental whacks against the side of the keyboard without complaint.

They're not perfect, of course: the surface of the shell wears down pretty quickly after 6 months, and the left and right mouse buttons take more force to click than other brands, which can become a real problem in a game like StarCraft or Dota 2.

But this has been the case with almost every ZOWIE mice ever made. The question is: which one was the best for me?

I thought I knew prior to testing, having owned older ZOWIE mice and measured up my hand against each of the specs. But after weeks of competitive Overwatch tracking accuracy, marathon sessions of CS:GO deathmatch, and the third-party Aim Lab trainer, the smallest mouse ended up returning the best results.

I've spent way too much money on mice over the years. Even then, my intuition still couldn't hold a candle to a proper roadtest.

My previous daily driver, a Logitech G Pro mouse.

So, what's the alternative?

You could try going to a gaming convention, although choice is limited by whatever brands are available at the event, whether you can go, and whether you're happy to pay for the convention in the first place. You could size up your hand and ballpark the device that best fits, but it's far from an exact science and if your choice is just a little bit off - well, you're back to shelling out more money.

One option is to test mice in person, at a vendor or storefront somewhere. But a lot of computer vendors are often located in industrial areas that aren't easily accessible by public transport, and nobody wants to drive out to an area just to get a few clicks in. And many resellers don't have the retail space to actually showcase or demo product, anyway.

A better alternative would be an exemption within existing refund policies for mice, where users could try a product for a week or two and return it without charge or for a small fee if it's not suitable. That would at least ease some of the burden on making a choice: if you know you can get most (if not all) of your money back, you're more liable to try different products.

Time limits on returns could offer some assurance for resellers, which would need some certainty to ensure that sales don't totally collapse. A better solution can't exist without the companies that sell products getting involved, although in the long-term it might be direct sales (buying through the online stores of Razer, Logitech, and so forth) that are better suited for this.

Nonetheless, there needs to be a better way for gamers to get the right mouse for them. There's plenty of good devices on the market - but the buyer experience still leaves a lot up to chance.


Comments

    This is one area where the big outlets are pretty good.

    I went mouse shopping at JB HiFi in Osborne Park (WA) a month back... They opened about 5 boxes until I found something which fit my hand (SS Rival 300).

    I wasn't even angling for it... They just kept saying things like "how about this one"... before they pulled their box cutters out.

    Might be a new policy at JB?

      That'd be smart. The only kicker is their range is pretty limited, but that's improved heaps from where it was over the last couple of years.

      They wouldn't let me open any boxes at JB sadly 6 months ago.

    QFT!

    At one point, I had a drawer that was filled with nothing but gaming mice. And that's because the only way to find the perfect mouse involved either buying a new one, or borrowing one from someone else

    I have this exact same problem. I have probably twenty working mice in, on or near my desk, ranging from old MS mice (which still have balls) to a brand new SteelSeries Sensei bought last week. In between there are numerous logitechs, different varieties of wired, wireless and blue-tooth, ergonomic ones, ambidextrous ones, small through huge mice, light ones and heavy ones, MMO ones with more buttons than a keyboard... And none of them are perfect.

    I can't agree more with the Alex that there needs to be a better way of testing a mouse before buying it. And it's super hard if you happen to be a leftie mouse user like me. Some ergonomic mice are bearable, even good (Logitech's old MX510 was fine) but others are finger torture. And the button positions for side buttons really need to match your finger length or they're bloody useless.

    If any mouse companies chance to read this, you need to make ergonomic mice for lefties too! If you've got a best selling ergonomic mouse design that righties love then just flip the model and try marketing it. Lefties may only make up 10% of the population but that means you just make 10% of the number of right hand mice and put them on the market.

    And while we're at it, how about making parts. Sure no one cares about a $10 no-name mouse, but if you've bought a $300 top of the line gaming mouse (yes there are $300 mice) then throwing it out because the feet have worn off or the cable has frayed or the non-replaceable batteries won't hold a charge is just ridiculous. It should be possible to get official replacement parts for common failure items rather than trying to jury rig a half-assed solution.

    They could publish an STL file of the outer shell, and you could 3D print it and try it out for fit :P

    I have been banned from selling mice on OCAU because I was selling "commercial quantities" of mice due to this exact issue.

    I have arthritis in my hands, as well as fairly small hands, and it took me forever to find a mouse that caused the least amount of pain for me, fit my hand, etc.

    Shout out to Zy though, he helped me reduce my choices massively.

    Ended up with a FinalMouse Classic Ergo (now on 2) and a Evoluent VerticalMouse C, of which I swap between whenever my hands start hurting with one.

    I can see it now, some fake company starting up with "We design gaming mice suited to YOUR DNA!"

    In Japan retailers have all the pc peripherals out of the box on display to try headphones, keyboard mices the lot.

      They used to do that here in a few places, I remember Harvey Norman having something like a dozen mice out for you to play with. Not sure if they still do, haven't been to HN in ages :P

    I found the perfect mouse for me - Razer Copperhead. Which I used until it wore out. They don’t make it anymore. :(

    I've had a Logitech Proteus Core mouse for a few years now and it's the comfiest mouse I've ever had. It's very specifically right-handed though so useless for lefties, but otherwise it feels great and has a really smooth glide along my desktop surface.

    I hate myself when I see how much money I spent on mice. I just couldn't find a comfortable size.

    Had the Logitech MX518, Razer DA 3500, SS Sensei, Logitech G502, Mionix Naos 7000, Mionix Castor, DA Chroma, G303, and finally my current one G403.

    The DA3500 was great, it lasted me 5+ years before it gave out to thousands of hours on dota but the DA Chroma was just meh in comparison,

    After that it was just an endless cycle of changing mices until I found the G403 which is my current fav.

    I did manage to give or sell my mice, I'm only left with the Naos7k for work, DA Chroma and G303 in storage.

    Every store that sells mice should have a display model for each model they sell.

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