Gaming peripheral manufacturer Thrustmaster is set to reveal three new products for the racing game market over the course of 2021, including a new direct drive wheelbase.
Thrustmaster’s social media accounts posted a “road map” of products it intends to at least unveil this calendar year, and we’d expect at least some of them to come to market in 2021 too. The announcement covers not only racing peripherals, but flight sim equipment and updates to its customizable ESWAP controller too.
However it’s the three racing peripherals that grab our attention, with all platforms supported in one way or another.
Although it appears third on the list, the one that’s arguably the most significant is the new Direct Drive wheel base. Direct drive is the pinnacle of racing wheel tech, featuring a wheel hub mounted directly to the motor itself — rather than connected by gears or belts to the motor output shaft — for immediate input torque and force feedback.
Thrustmaster doesn’t currently make a direct drive wheel although it has rumored to be working on one since 2016. A recent promotional push for a new wheel looked like it could finally be the DD unit, though it turned out to be a development of the belt-driven T-GT, known as the T-GT II.
Recently, Thrustmaster has seen rival brand Fanatec come out with a new direct drive base at a more entry-level price. The Xbox (and PC) CSL DD cuts into some of Thrustmaster’s market, and when the new Fanatec DD Pro arrives for PS5 — and Gran Turismo 7 — it could offer a complete direct drive system at a similar price point to the T-GT II.
At present, the Thrustmaster direct drive wheel is slated for PC only. However we wouldn’t rule out a future product in the coming years that will function on console too.
In addition, Thrustmaster will reveal a “hybrid drive” wheel bundle in 2021, for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. That suggests a single base/rim/pedal set which will work on any platform out of the box, though it could be a similar situation to Logitech’s G923 which has PC/Xbox and PC/PlayStation variants.
Quite what a “hybrid drive” is we can’t say for now. Optimists might expect some form of direct drive in combination with another technology, but it’s more likely to be new terminology for a gear and belt system as with the existing Thrustmaster TMX wheels — and towards the lower end of the market.
The final product slated for a 2021 reveal is a new pedal set with full cross-platform functionality. We don’t have any reference point for where this might fit into the range — it could be anything from a new entry point up to an enhanced version of the T-LCM pedals, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Thrustmaster hasn’t given any specific dates beyond “2021” for these product unveilings, and there’s no launch schedule offered, so watch this space for more.