Zwift Releases “Play” Gaming Controllers


With a new product drop, Zwift wants to keep you glued to the handlebars.

What’s happening: Zwift unveiled handlebar-affixable game controllers, complete with directional pad, shortcut buttons, and paddles that deliver braking and steering functionality.

Called Zwift Play, the system is designed to improve the ride experience, eliminating the need to reach for its app on a second screen.

Between the lines: While it’s a significant upgrade for clunky UX, alongside the hardware, the virtual cycling platform launched Beta Zwift Play Game Experience, an arcade-like mode. Debuting with a single gamified tutorial ride, Zwift intends to test and release new games in the coming months.

New Revolution

Following a pandemic boom, at-home cycling brands suffered as ridership peaked, with equipment maker Saris entering bankruptcy, Wahoo getting taken over by lenders, and Zwift scrapping its long-awaited connected bike plans.

Since then, cycling platforms have been feverishly releasing product and software upgrades that keep their member bases of amateur and professional cyclists fully engaged:

  • Following the release of its Hub smart bike trainer, Zwift added community-oriented features like ride pausing and the ability to link up with friends mid-ride.
  • Prior to its short-lived spending freeze, RGT operator Wahoo unveiled a handlebar mount for smart screens that enabled steering.
  • Last fall, tilting smart bike maker Muoverti rebranded to MUOV and unveiled a triathlon-specific bike.

Elsewhere, connected bike makers are embracing fitness gaming, with Peloton staying committed to its Lanebreak mode and arcade-style platform PlayPulse shipping its first bikes this year.

Takeaway: Pro or amateur, Olympic esport or all fun and games, an enjoyable experience is the flywheel that drives everything else.

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