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Logitech buys headset maker Astro Gaming

The PC peripherals company hopes to crack the console gaming market.

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The Astro A40 TR headset.

CNET

Logitech is one of the best-known brands of keyboards, mice, headphones and webcams, whether you're a gamer or not. 

Now, Logitech's carving a deeper niche in the gaming peripheral market -- by purchasing headset maker Astro Gaming for $85 million in an all-cash deal.

While you could technically call Astro Gaming a rival, as both companies produce headsets, Astro is best known for its pricey, high-quality Astro A40 and A50 headsets -- which retail for upward of $250 -- whereas Logitech's highest-end headset originally cost just $200 and can be had for closer to US $130 today. Converted, that's about £100 or AU$170. 

According to the press release, Logitech has a pretty specific aim by buying Astro: It wants to expand its product line into the game console market. (While some of its gear can technically be used with consoles, Logitech has mostly targeted PCs, tablets and phones as of late.)

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The popular (and waterproof) UE Boom wireless speaker was a result of the Logitech / Ultimate Ears tie-up.

Sarah Tew/CNET

"With the addition of Astro, we're investing in an adjacent gaming market -- the console gaming market -- to help accelerate the long-term growth of our gaming business," reads a line in the press release.

It's not the first time Logitech has expanded by swallowing another peripheral company. It became a major player in Bluetooth speakers (and to some degree headphones) after purchasing Ultimate Ears for $34 million in 2008, it nabbed wireless earbud maker Jaybird for $50 million last April, and acquired flight stick maker Saitek from the wreckage of rival Mad Catz in September 2016.

Astro Gaming has also changed hands a couple of times: First when Skullcandy purchased the Astro Studios (which designed the Xbox 360) spinoff in 2011, and then again when Mill Road Capital purchased Skullcandy in 2016.

Meanwhile, Logitech rival Razer is making purchases it hopes will expand its scope beyond that of a peripheral company, purchasing audio company THX last October and phone maker Nextbit this past January.

The Logitech-Astro deal is expected to close in early August, according to the company.

Update, 4:27 p.m. PT: In an interview, Logitech gaming boss Ujesh Desai and Astro Gaming VP Aron Drayer tell CNET that Astro and Logitech G will stay separate brands with separate teams, even though they'll both technically report to Desai. Logitech will be focused on PC and Astro on the console market, and Astro may even expand beyond its core headset business with Logitech's help. 

"Certainly there is a desire to do more, we don't see ourselves as an audio company by any means. We think of ourselves as a gaming company making the best gaming products for people," said Drayer. "There's a lot of things we'd like to do on our road map that'd make the experience better."

And as far as Astro's headsets are concerned, Drayer hints that the company's taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. 

"We don't want to just jam a new product down your throats every year just because we can," he said, using venerated headphone maker Grado as an example. "Grado's headsets haven't changed that much in 60 years ... they were custom-designed at the time to be the best solution, and they're still the best solution today."

Correction: This story originally stated that Incipio bought Skullcandy (and thus Astro Gaming) in June 2016, but that deal never closed, and Mill Road Capital became the owner instead. We regret the error.