I suspect that unless a game gets released that requires a fundamentally different controller that gimmicky additions like touch panels and LEDs at the very least are the likely future trend.
(I’d bet more on the LED’s myself. Touch panels are overrated and more of a pain than they’re worth. I still prefer buttons and levers which in my experience are still more consistent than touch panels.)
There’s only so many ways you can redesign the box and the Atrox seems to have snapped up all the basic functions people are expecting now.
Note that every time a new company has made a serious effort to design quality product and joined the joystick race it’s forced the existing companies to play catch-up and scramble to release product that at least matches the new basic features introduced by the new company. That’s pushed the basic quality of joysticks up and now we’re getting features that were originally charged an extra $40-$50 premium prior to Mad Catz entering the market and having all its fantastic discount tourney sales in North America. Hori’s been forced to make its HRAP SA’s the norm instead of the limited edition runs they were in the past and that’s been win-win for the game fans.
Razer is now directing the innovation and Mad Catz has responded about the only way they reasonably can with similar features in the next generation TE and a hint at something more… (LED’s???) We have yet to see what Hori will offer but they’re sure to be up to something and have new product to offer whenever the next generation or continuations of current fighting games pop up on both the PS4 and XBox One.
As long as a market exists for the renewal of joysticks and the introduction of new designs and built-in features, nobody can rest on their laurels. Hori was without serious competition for years and used the same joystick case for over 6 years! Mad Catz has only been good for the hardware industry since the intro of the TE and hopefully Razer will similarly be a good influence – although I think they could stand to reduce the Atrox price a bit…
Don’t underestimate the draw of LED’s… IF a company markets an LED-equipped, reliable joystick for under $200 that’s easy to program lighting patterns for, has adjustable color options and a joystick LED option, it might become the next big thing. That would certainly be cheaper and less of a headache than having to build the thing from scratch and risk blowing a PCB because of wrong voltage. The PDP Injustice joystick was a step in this direction but was hampered by sub-arcade quality parts and LED functions that also weren’t consistent depending on the game it was used with. The Hori FE really didn’t go far enough with LED… Side lighting is nice but I think people want light-up buttons that in addition to reacting to hits have the the option of programmable pattern lighting.
Sure, there are people who will always go for the cheap options but that market isn’t where companies make the big money.
The “beginner” joysticks might morph into something like the Hori HRAP N3 “lite”-style Wii U joystick. Only issue is price… how low can a joystick be reasonably priced with quality parts and still be profitable? It’s arguably at least $75-$80. Right now, the best basic joystick on the market might be the $60 joystick Qanba recently introduced. It really doesn’t seem like anything priced new below at least $60 is worth spitting at now…