Virtual cycling program Zwift is further gamifying its fitness platform by launching its first dedicated controller called the Zwift Play.
It functions similarly to the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons. The Zwift Play is comprised of two separate pieces each with its own set of buttons. The left half comes with a direction pad for navigating on-screen menus and for making select turns inside the company’s virtual world. On the right half are the face buttons for selecting menu options or activating certain in-game abilities like teleporting “to Pace Groups,” among other things. At the back of both halves are a couple of paddles. Pushing them in brakes your on-screen bike while pulling them helps you steer.
(Image credit: Zwift)
As for other important details, the Zwift Play “requires two Bluetooth connections”, one for each half. Battery life for both pieces is a claimed 20 hours of ride time. The overall package does come with a split-end USB cable so you can charge the two at the same time without any issue. The controller can connect to any exercise bike via silicone straps. However, the machine must sport drop handlebars and not have any sort of unique configurations. As an example, the company states the Zwift Play doesn’t work on the Garmin Tacx Neo bike since it won’t “allow proper placement due to shifter shape.”
Alongside the controller, the company also launched its new Beta Zwift Play Game Experience, a virtual environment where users can test drive the device’s functionality. It features a cycling course where people can try out the rear braking paddles and the ability shortcuts on the face buttons.
For a limited time, you can purchase the Zwift Play controller from the company’s website for $99/£99/€99. This lower price tag will stick around until the Zwift Play Game Experience leaves beta. Once it does, the price tag will go up to $149/£149/€149 moving forward.
We asked Zwift when the virtual world will officially launch. A representative told us they don’t have a confirmed date yet for the release. In the meantime, the company will focus on improving exercise modes and taking user feedback on how to improve the experience.
We also asked the representative if there are plans to roll out the Zwift Play to other global regions – namely Australia. They told us the company is looking into it, but currently doesn’t have plans to expand outside the US, UK, and EU.