How Jsaux rode the Steam Deck to escape the Amazon wilderness

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Amazon is filled with copycat companies selling tech accessories. Many of them have barely pronounceable names written in all caps, and it’s hard to tell them apart. But Jsaux, pronounced JAY-saw, a seven-year-old Shenzhen accessory maker, has become almost synonymous with Valve’s Steam Deck gaming handheld.

How on Earth did this Chinese brand go from generic USB-C cables, iPhone accessories, and a weird acorn-shaped Bluetooth speaker to producing over 30 different bespoke products for a Linux gaming handheld audience?

The right place, the right time, and with the right resources, Shenzhen Wuyishi Technology Company founder and CEO Jason Cai tells The Verge. Specifically, Jsaux intentionally beat Valve to market with a Steam Deck dock of its own, then feverishly iterated on it while fleshing out a whole ecosystem of accessories. Cai tells me he wanted to get into the world of gaming, and “now with the Steam Deck, it is good timing,” he says via translator.

And ow that that company’s established itself with a passionate subset of the gaming community, Jsaux not only wants to dominate other niches — like PSVR 2 — it’s also pulling an Anker, building new sibling brands to reach entirely different categories.

Let’s flash back to June of 2022 when Valve was still trickling out waves of Steam Decks to customers who plunked down preorder deposits. Then, Valve announced that its Docking Station, a USB-C hub for external displays it’s been showing off since the Steam Deck’s 2021 announcement, was being delayed due to shortages and covid closures.

This was the kind of moment Jsaux had been waiting for.

Valve’s Steam Deck Dock is dwarfed in number and options by the myriad docking stations Jsaux currently sells.

Though the company had already started building a few simple USB-C cables and cases for the Steam Deck, it decided to pump out a dock of its own while the perfect window of opportunity was open. “We were buying time,” Cai tells The Verge. Jsaux wanted to beat Valve at its own accessory game, and it did — by about four whole months.

Jsaux saw a golden opportunity

Even though a Steam Deck owner could plug most any USB-C hub into the handheld and output to a monitor or TV from day one, there was fan thirst for a proper standing dock akin to the Nintendo Switch. I remember early murmurs from Redditors who took a chance on this unknown brand’s dock at less than half the price of Valve’s and were enthusiastic to find they’d gotten a quality accessory well ahead of Valve’s release.

And those Reddit reactions, in turn, likely helped shape Jsaux’s next wave of products. By that point, the company had already decided to use Reddit as a sounding board — even asking for feedback directly from Steam Deck owners. It reminded me of the deep-rooted customer communication I’ve seen in the world of mechanical keyboards when small, obscure companies strive to establish some clout with a dedicated community.

Once Jsaux began its big push on Steam Deck accessories, its homepage became all about Valve’s handheld.

Jsaux made just 100 docks to start, but it had already decided to go full steam ahead on Steam Deck products. Peeking into the Wayback Machine, we can see how Jsaux’s site went from offering five basic Steam Deck accessories in May 2022 to double that in late June — when the Steam Deck began to take over the company’s entire homepage.

Fast forward to today, and Jsaux could be easily perceived as That Steam Deck Company, even if it prefers not to be pigeon-holed.

“We would not like to be think [sic] of only as a Steam Deck accessory brand, as we’re building more than that,” says Jacky Wang, the company’s head of marketing, via translator. But for now, Jsaux’s website is dominated by the Steam Deck, where it sells 31 compatible products, ranging from docks and adapters to add-on coolers.

Remember that first dock it rushed to market over a year ago? Jsaux still sells it, along with four others that offer different arrays of ports (including a dual-display dock akin to Valve’s for half the price). Jsaux produces three different kinds of carrying cases, three different protective cases, and four kinds of screen protectors. One of its docks even has a built-in M.2 slot for adding your own full-length SSD, which you’d be forgiven for not knowing is even possible via the Steam Deck’s USB-C port.

Despite the litany of overlapping accessories, Jsaux never seems to discontinue anything — it just offers more and more to hit every little niche request a Steam Deck owner might have. “…We don’t replace them. We wanted to keep all for all kinds of users,” Wang replied when I asked.

By far, one of Jsaux’s coolest accessory options is a transparent rear shell that doesn’t just look neat but also utilizes a metal plate for better passive cooling, which it now offers in a variety of sick colors — including atomic purple. Since that wasn’t enough, it’s about to release an updated version with improved passive cooling, plus a new replacement transparent shell for the front of the Steam Deck to complete the see-through look. Installing the front shell will be a labor-intensive operation, bordering on a full teardown, but it probably helps when your customers are mostly self-selecting nerds who may be brave enough to try.

Jsaux also tells The Verge it’s been working on a new docking station with RGB lighting that “looks different from all the Steam Deck docking stations we’ve released in the past,” as well as an anti-glare screen replacement for those Deck owners who regret not paying extra for Valve’s (which only came with the highest-end model).

That new dock is only one piece of the puzzle in going full Gamer Lights with your Steam Deck setup, as Jsaux is also working on an RGB back cover with lighting that runs off its own battery (so as not to drain the Steam Deck’s), which I imagine will go great (or garishly) with its recently launched RGB external fan. Some DIY enthusiasts already experimented with using Jsaux’s rear transparent shells to create their own ill-conceived RGB-ified Steam Deck, so this is a clear-cut case of Jsaux giving the people what they want.

A render of Jsaux’s upcoming RGB dock and RGB back plate for the Steam Deck.
Video: Jsaux

It’s just one example of fan feedback influencing Jsaux’s product development. When the company first debuted a rear transparent shell, it had a large Jsaux logo on it, which didn’t go over well with fans because, frankly, it looked bad and tacky. But Jsaux promptly responded and omitted its branding before it ever shipped — yielding a better product. Jsaux talks directly to its diehard Steam Deck community via Twitter as well as Reddit and tells us it gets further visibility through connections with YouTubers.

Brace yourselves: the RGB Steam Decks are coming

We asked its founder why Jsaux bet so big on the Steam Deck and were slightly surprised to learn he didn’t view it as such a risk. Cai says the company simply shifted half of its eight-person design team’s time to developing those early products, a strategy it’s used before. If Jsaux didn’t successfully find a foothold in gaming with the Steam Deck, it was simply going to try VR accessories next.

It also doesn’t hurt that Jsaux apparently has such tight relationships with its suppliers that it can turn around small batches of products fast. While the entire company employs around 110 people in design, product and supply chain management, marketing, sales, shipping, and support, it relies on contract manufacturers to actually produce the gear. Jsaux sees that as a strength rather than a weakness, though, allowing the company to remix its suppliers’ expertise in, say, charging and stands to quickly create something new.

While Jsaux’s representatives may be playing it cool, it’s worth remembering how small the potential customer base for Steam Deck is — especially for an accessory maker. Valve has sold maybe 2 million Steam Decks thus far (it hasn’t revealed exact figures), with some estimating it’ll approach 3 million by the end of this year. Compare that to a juggernaut device like Apple’s iPhone, which sells about 200 million units per year, and you quickly see how hitching its horse to the Steam Deck gives Jsaux a much lower ceiling by comparison.

How it started vs. how it’s going. On the left is Jsaux’s original, first-to-market dock. On the right is a newer, more premium option with an internal M.2 SSD slot.

But when you’re in a world of niche hobbyists, there’s also a whole lot less noise to drown out — which is also why Jsaux tells us it didn’t jump into the very competitive world of the Nintendo Switch. 

The bet on the Steam Deck seems to be paying off for now. Jsaux tells The Verge it has sold around 550,000 Steam Deck accessories (of which 30 percent are docking stations), accounting for around 20 percent of the company’s overall $70 million in revenue. Around 60 percent of its sales come from the USA, with Europe in second, and unsurprisingly, most people buy them via Amazon. Now that Jsaux has found some success in this niche of gaming, it’s looking to broaden its reach.

Jsaux sold over half a million Steam Deck accessories

Over the past year, Jsaux / Shenzhen Wuyishi Technology Company has been building a new holding company to develop side brands for other product categories like sports accessories, fitness equipment, portable monitors, “RGB devices,” and baby supplies — the last of which it tells us will be called Nehneh Baby. And while that range may sound a little strange for a gaming accessory vendor, it’s reminiscent of how Anker first established itself as the big phone charger accessory company before it built sub-brands like Soundcore and Eufy for audio accessories and home electronics. Jsaux’s managers didn’t shy away from telling us how they look up to Anker, so it makes sense they’re trying to follow that mold.

One of Jsaux’s next non-Steam Deck teases — a wireless speaker that can seemingly play two different songs simultaneously.
Image: Jsaux

Kind of a far cry from this odd little guy Jsaux was making back in 2018.
Image: Jsaux (via Wayback Machine)

But ambition alone doesn’t make a company the next Anker. One of the key threads along Jsaux’s journey to gaining relevance is that the products are actually good. I’ve spent time testing nearly every Steam Deck accessory that Jsaux makes —including docks, cases, and its more novel accessories like the transparent back and external add-on fan — and I haven’t come across any that wasn’t at least pretty good.

Jsaux’s Mod Case has a built-in stand and is partially translucent, so you can look into your Steam Deck’s see-through rear shell (if you squint).

This setup is a bit Frankenstein-y, but the attachable fan dropped the Steam Deck’s internal temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius in testing. It does get noisy, though.

Jsaux’s docks work perfectly fine and can even double as your laptop’s USB-C hub in a pinch. The transparent rear shell is an especially cool accessory that was not difficult to install. As for cases, while many of Jsaux’s silicone protective shells and carrying cases are pretty utilitarian, I really like its ModCase, which lets me protect my 512GB Steam Deck in a smaller footprint than Valve’s bundled zip-up one.

And I’ll be damned, but Jsaux’s Steam Deck sling backpack case that I thought I’d never be caught dead wearing in a million years actually proved to be quite handy when traveling — it surprisingly fits a Steam Deck in a ModCase, a Nintendo Switch in one of its own zipper cases, and some charging accessories.

When you factor in how affordable most of these products are, it becomes easy to recommend most Jsaux stuff to any fellow Steam Deck owner. Even Jsaux’s standard tech and gadget accessories like USB-C cables and adapters for phones and laptops have proved perfectly capable for full-time daily driver use — my editor uses two.

If it hadn’t been for the Steam Deck, maybe Jsaux would have remained just another generic brand selling commodity tech. But by using Valve’s ultra-geeky handheld as a proving ground, it’s gotten a foothold with gamers that let it rise above the Amazon alphabet soup.

Photography by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

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