Since 2010, Razer has been the only major manufacturer to make gaming mice specifically designed for left-handed gamers. While the company has launched only two mice, the DeathAdder Left-Hand Edition in 2010 and the Naga Epic in 2013, it has gone where none of its competitors have gone before. Razer has now returned in full force to deliver the brand-new Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition to the left-handed community.
We spoke to Razer's director of design, Stéphane Blanchard, about the production of the Naga: Left-handed Edition, and to a member of the left-handed gaming community about what this mouse means to them.
What the Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition means for the lefties
I had no idea that finding a left-handed mouse was such a struggle until a friend of mine put me on the hunt for one. She knew about the upcoming Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition, a device I wasn't aware of (some tech journalist I am). I did more research and was surprised that there were no other options for left-handed gamers.
My friend asked me to find a good left-handed mouse on behalf of her brother, Johnny Lai Pan. Lai Pan has cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. In his case, the disorder prevents him from using his right hand to game.
He has been forced to use crappy ambidextrous mice like you'd find in a college computer lab. However, when Razer launched the DeathAdder Left-Hand Edition in 2010, he was able to use something relatively comfortable to game with. But since the DeathAdder was still incredibly limited as a gaming mouse — it had only two buttons — it couldn't satisfy all of his needs.
When the original Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition launched a few years later, Lai Pan could play games that actually piqued his interest, like League of Legends and World of Warcraft, because the mouse had a full-blown numpad on the side of it. When I asked Lai Pan what his gaming experience would be like if Razer didn't make these mice, he said, "It would be hard to adjust to games that interest me."
One criticism Lai Pan has with the old Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition is that he wishes he had the option to adjust the keypad to his own comfort. He also mentioned that the sensor tends to jump the cursor from one spot to another. The mouse is old, and Lai Pan needs a replacement, so where are the left-handed mice?
I dug around for testimonials about needing left-handed gaming mice, and I found someone on Reddit asking Corsair to make a left-handed version of the Rival 700. Funnily enough, Corsair responded at the time, saying, "Ideally, we'll be making a variety of mice perfect for everyone in the future, but we're not there yet." That was three years ago.
The Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition's rough start
There's been quite a lull in the left-handed gaming world since Razer stopped selling the original left-handed Naga when its features started to become obsolete.
Everything inside the new Naga is new, but Blanchard couldn't go too deep into what's inside this new hotness. "It wouldn't be right to come up with an old tool or component and make a new product," Blanchard said.
Right now, the new Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition is expected to launch sometime in 2020. But the future for left-handed mice was somewhat bleak back in 2018 when Razer launched a Kickstarter for the Left-handed Naga Trinity. The company's goal was to reach $990,000, but ultimately, Razer hit $57,929, a mere 5.85% of the projected goal. This didn't seem to discourage Razer, however.
"Yeah, it didn't reach the goal, but that doesn't mean no one wanted it," Blanchard said. "We've done [left-handed mice] in the past and we still believe there are a lot of people asking for it, so it was a way to approach our community from a different angle this time."
Ten percent of the population worldwide is left-handed, so presumably the percentage of gamers that are left-handed is around 10% as well. That's a large chunk of the gaming community that isn't being represented. Most companies rely on ambidextrous mice to check off the boxes, but they can never be as good as a left- or right-handed mouse because these custom mice have ergonomic designs.
Blanchard and his team are passionate about the product, and Razer is behind them despite the risk. "We are doing it because we believe it's something that has to exist," Blanchard said. "We want all of the gamers in the world to be able to play in the best way possible, and ergonomics is something we're very particular about."
Creating the Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition
So, if Razer is doing it, why isn't anyone else doing it? How hard could it be to make a left-handed mouse instead of a right-handed one? As it turns out, it's not very difficult at all.
Blanchard explained that the work has already been done, ever since they made the original, all they have to do is mirror the mouse, and voila! you have a functioning left-handed mouse. There's basically nothing ergonomically different about the left- and right-handed mice, because they use the same exact blueprint — it's just flipped.
Even the development time for this mouse is fast. It will take only six months to complete from start to finish, which is Razer's typical turnaround on its other mice. So, it's not anything on the production end that discourages vendors from making left-handed mice — it's, of course, all about the money.
"It's not financially viable to make a [left-handed mouse], but we still want to do it," Blanchard said. "It's a product that we want our left-handed community to have, so we're assigning resources, which means time and money, [even though] we know that this project would never be profitable."
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For context, the last time a Razer Naga was sold in 2017, the company shipped only a couple thousand mice across various channels. Razer sells more right-handed mice in a day than it does left-handed mice in a year. For example, in 2018 alone, sales of the left-handed DeathAdder was less than 0.01% compared with sales of the right-handed DeathAdder. Razer is losing money on every left-handed mouse it sells, the company claims, but it recognizes the importance of these products and continues to make them.
Razer is pushing out left-handed mice at a loss to give left-handed gamers, including people who physically can't use their right hand, an advantage. However, Razer shouldn't be the only company doing this. Obviously, it's not a great financial decision for the company, and according to a Facebook post that Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan posted in the Left Handed Naga Group, this might be the last left-handed Naga that Razer makes if the company can't break even.
If you're interested in the Razer Naga: Left-handed Edition, you can sign up for the preregistration on its website. This'll help the company better estimate the volume of products it'll have to make, so it doesn't under- or overproduce.
A letter to gaming mice companies
It's not hard to make a left-handed gaming mouse. Other peripheral companies need to step up their accessibility efforts and fill in the gaps that Razer leaves behind. Gamers need variety and shouldn't rely on only one company to fulfill their needs. If Razer can do it, other companies can, too.
I'm looking at the top gaming mouse brands — Logitech, Corsair, SteelSeries and HyperX. Yes, it's not a money-making gesture, but if you truly care about your communities, you'll commit like Razer has. Show Razer that you can make an even better left-handed mouse. And if you succeed, you'll gain fans from that community that'll buy the other products you sell as well. Invest in all of your communities. With Razer hesitant about launching another left-handed Naga, we might not see another left-handed gaming mouse for a long time otherwise.