Tempe company changes the game with modified controllers - East Valley Tribune: Business

Tempe company changes the game with modified controllers

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Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2010 3:00 pm | Updated: 6:00 pm, Tue Dec 28, 2010.

The door to Adam Coe’s workspace reads “Evil Laboratory” and has a picture of a mad scientist looking at beakers. 

On the other side of the door is room where evil is conducted on a regular basis. It is the room where Coe’s company, Evil Controllers, produces modified controllers for two popular gaming systems, the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3.

Evil Controllers has been making modified controllers for gamers — including disabled players — since 2007.

Coe, 22, started Evil Controllers when he was a freshman at the University of Arizona. An avid video game player, he was looking for a way to improve his game play.

Modified controllers give gamers an advantage by making certain movements automatic, and by customizing the location of buttons.

Using information he found online, Coe taught himself how to relocate buttons on his controller to a more ideal position.

“I knew I had something, so I bought 20 controllers off eBay with the last of my financial aid money and turned them around pretty quickly,” Coe said. “What I made off of that I used to buy more controllers.”

Evil Controllers quickly gained more business and Coe soon recruited his older brother Jonah Coe, 29, to help him run the company.

“I took over the stuff he didn’t want to do,” Jonah Coe said. “Adam wanted to focus on creating better models, and it was a two-man show for almost a year.”

Evil Controllers, currently located in Tempe, has grown from just Coe to a staff of 17 people.

According to Adam Coe, Evil Controllers’ competitors helped make the company what it is today.

“They flooded the market with people you can’t trust, so people end up coming to us because we have the name, the brand and the quality,” Coe said.

Evil Controllers charges a little more than its competitors for products, because it purchases new Xbox controllers where its competitors often modify used controllers.

The price for the average modified controller ranges from $59.99 to $249.99, depending on what it can do.

Tom Bertrand, a Mesa resident, bought one of Evil Controller’s universal standard modified controllers, and has been enjoying the advantages it provides.

“At a certain level, everybody has one and you can’t compete unless you also have one,” Bertrand said. “You can see other game play, and tell when someone else has one.”

Bertrand said Evil Controllers is one of the more popular companies to go to when looking for a modified controller.

“They’re just the best one,” Bertrand said. “Everyone has an Evil Controller if they have a mod.”

Evil Controllers also takes custom orders for designs to help create easier play for people with disabilities.

Recently, Coe designed a modified controller for someone who isn’t strong enough to push his arms together to hold a controller.

Coe cut a controller in half so it allows the player to hold the left half of the controller in his left hand, and the right half of the controller in his right hand. Both pieces of the controller are linked to cables that link it to a whole Xbox controller that is plugged into the Xbox.

Coe put about 60 hours of work into designing, creating and testing the model.

By creating custom controllers for people with disabilities, Evil Controllers reaches a large part of the population that Microsoft and Sony miss, and Coe sees it being a big part of his company’s future.

“There are millions of people that don’t know about us,” Coe said. “It’s easy for us to relocate a button and it changes their lives.”

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