As deep-sea exploration company OceanGate faces renewed criticism for seemingly flouting safety guidelines, another company has been caught in the crossfire: Logitech, the Swiss electronics manufacturer behind products like game controllers and computer mice.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush piloted the Titan submersible using a Logitech F710 controller designed for PC gaming. After the tech giant was seemingly implicated in the ill-fated expedition, the reaction from the stock market was instantaneous. According to MarketWatch, Logitech’s share price started out the week at $56.73 on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning, it was at $54.73 and bottomed out at $53.91 by lunchtime, marking a nearly 5 percent total drop. By Friday afternoon, it had regained most of its lost value and closed out the week at $55.80 per share.
On top of falling stock prices, Logitech also faced troll reviews on Amazon for the F710 and other similar gamepads from the brand. “Got one of these for my submarine expeditions to the bottom of the ocean and the depths of hell,” one one-star review read, per The New York Post. “I purchased this controller to pilot my homemade submarine. I’ll keep you posted,” a five-star review claimed. One interested buyer asked, “I’m building a homemade submarine in my backyard. Can I drive it with this or should I get the corded one?”
The unique steering device even got a chuckle out of CBS Sunday Morning reporter David Pogue, who went down to the Titanic wreckage in the Titan with Rush last year. And while it may seem unusual to use a $40 gaming device to control something thousands of feet under the sea, it’s more common than one would think. The U.S. Navy, for example, uses Xbox controllers on its submarines in place of certain controls. The Army has employed Xbox controllers in the past to control bomb robots. And the controller for the Army’s M-SHORAD resembles a Nintendo 64 gamepad.
The apparent repeated ignoring of warnings from past OceanGate employees and reliance on makeshift technology are more than just a tragedy. For Titanic director James Cameron, who himself has been down to the shipwreck nearly three dozen times over the years, it was a heartbreaking parallel to the April 1912 disaster where Captain Edward Smith brushed off guidance to steer clear of an iceberg field. “We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings,” the Oscar winner told the BBC. “OceanGate were warned.”
Needless to say, the Logitech F710 is great for diving in a virtual submarine, but its association with the real one hasn’t been great for the company’s image.