"I have to use my words carefully -- you'll have to check with Microsoft for further information," began Alex Verrey, Mad Catz global PR manager, in an interview with Joystiq today, "but it's Mad Catz's understanding that Microsoft are exiting the wheel market. So, Microsoft are no longer going to be producing their first-party wireless wheel for 360." (We've contacted Microsoft for further details.)
Of course, this revelation follows Mad Catz's E3 announcement of its own "Mad Catz Wireless Racing Wheel" (pictured) for Xbox 360, designed by its Saitek division (also known as the Mad Catz UK-based R&D group). Saitek is Mad Catz's "pro gaming" brand and specializes in simulation equipment. "We tried very hard to make it not look or feel like a toy," explained Verrey. "It's got a real industrial design."
The Mad Catz wheel is licensed to use the same wireless technology employed in first-party Xbox 360 peripherals and is estimated to operate some 40 hours off of three AA batteries. The wheel has "tiptronic" gear shift paddles in the back, but also includes an interchangeable gear shift that can be secured to either side of the base, as well as an accelerator and brake pedal attachment. Additionally, the package includes a desk mount and lap-rest supports.
The Mad Catz Wireless Racing Wheel is expected to be released "before the holiday season" this year and won't be tied to a specific racing game or franchise, confirmed Verrey. It will retail for $130.