Interview: Min-Liang Tan, Razer USA Ltd.
During Computex, we spoke Min-Liang Tan, co-founder of Razer on the company’s recent activity. He shared his insight on the company’s latest releases, the Blade and Blade Pro, and the reasoning behind creating a smaller Blade notebook. He also spoke about the recent Atrox arcade, as well as the company’s “For Gamers, By Gamers” philosophy.
Razer seems to have launched a lot of products lately. Other than the Blade and Blade Pro, what else has Razer released in the first half of 2013?
We have done quite a number of products. The Atrox and the Orbweaver were recent, as well as our tie-ins with League of Legends, while the Ouroboros and the Kraken were done last year. We have also launched Razer Comms, our gaming VoIP service. We also released the Razer Edge, our Windows 8 gaming tablet, which gained attention during CES.
Let’s talk about the Atrox, your arcade stick. The beta program took about two and a half years, but how long did it actually take to complete, from conception to final release?
The average Razer products takes about four to six years, and we take our time developing them. We don’t rush our products. Despite that, people are still passionate about our releases. The Atrox would have probably taken about four years.
The next question would be, why develop an arcade stick?
We’re sticking to our motto, “For Gamers, By Gamers”. We have a small fighting game community, and although it might not be a big business for us, it’s something gamers want. For example, we know that there’s not a huge demand for left-handed gaming mice, but we do know that there are people who would definitely appreciate such a peripheral.
Why did you decide to enter the arcade stick market, considering the presence of brands like Mad Catz and Hori?
Because we thought we could make a better one. That same reasoning drove us to build a PC, when people are of the opinion that PC sales are declining, or our gaming mice, despite so many mice being available in the market. We just want to build things that we want to use ourselves.
The next question is with regards to the Orbweaver. The Nostromo has been around for quite some time, so why did you bring about the update to that product?
We made the Orbweaver to address complaints about the Nostromo not being ergonomic enough. We made it so that it fit all hand sizes, a well as providing the same flexibility the Nostromo offered.
Why did you decide to do away with the membrane keys found in the Nostromo, and opt for mechanical keys instead?
We have done mechanical keyboards for quite a while, and we want to make choices for everyone. Those who like membrane keys can still use membrane keys, and those who like mechanical keys can stick to them. We provide for both.
Why did Razer decide to split the Blade into two separate products?
It’s more of a question of preference. If you’re a hardcore gamer looking for a 17-inch screen, then the Blade Pro is for you. However, if you’re a gamer but would also like a degree of portability, then the 14-inch Blade caters to you. Of course, if you need ultra-mobility, then the Edge is for you.
Right now, your Blade Pro is aimed at professionals. Why is that?
When we launched the Blade, we noticed quickly that a lot of creative professionals were also using it, simply because it was the most powerful 17-inch notebook available. We also want to provide game developers a great platform to work on.
With the update to the Blade, would there be a refresh of the Edge?
As it is, the Edge is already quite powerful, and we don’t plan to update it in the near future.
With the Blade and the Edge, is it safe to say that Razer is now a permanent fixture in the PC market?
When you look at it, we have a 17-inch gaming notebook, which is doing really well and is now the de facto product that everything else is benchmarked against, a 14-inch gaming notebook that is thinner than a standing dime, and a tablet. We are probably the leaders in gaming notebooks.
Would be it be fair to call Razer a trend-setter?
When we showed the Blade, people called us nuts. Two years later, there were clones of it appearing. People didn’t care about gaming notebooks that were thin and light – that was, until the Blade. We are no trend-setters; we create industries. We take challenges nobody takes, and we lead people along.
Razer is no stranger to licensed products, with tie-ins to LoL, WoW and Transformers. What other tie-ins can we expect from Razer?
We just announced tie-ins with Battlefield 4. We like to work with IP we play ourselves. We worked with TRON:Legacy simply because we liked the first TRON.
Does the community influence the products Razer makes?
We don’t do focus groups. We try to design what gamers want, rather than what they say they want. To create a great product, we believe its a constant process of re-polishing and refining. Our philosophy is to design the very best product.
With hardware, software and peripherals, what’s next for Razer?
For us, it’s anything a gamer would need or want. We like to continue what we’re doing.
With the release of the Blade, Blade Pro and the Atrox, is there anything that gamers can look forward to in this latter half of the year?
Yes. We’re not done yet, and we’ve got some cool stuff lined up.