Interview: Min-Liang Tan, Chief Gamer and CEO of Razer
If you’ve been to the 1st day of Pinoy Gaming Festival (PGF) 2013 at the World Trade Center last Saturday, you would’ve met CEO’s chief gamer, co-founder, and CEO, Min-Liang Tan. It was his first official visit to the country in which Razer supported the recovery efforts of Philippine Red Cross for the Visayas quake victims by donating 100% of the sales of their apparel during the said event.
Razer fans showing their numbers at the PGF 2013
A day before the event, we were able to grab a brief one-on-one interview with Min, who co-founded Razer back in 1998 in San Diego California. We talked about the Filipino gaming community, the Blade, and why their products are priced.
PTB: Hi Min, welcome to the Philippines. So my first question is, how do you think Philippine eSports teams are doing globally and in the region?
MLT: I think globally, Philippines still has a long way to go but sooner or later you’re gonna get there. Regionally, I think Philippines is very, very strong, but I think from our experience in eSports, your teams require a lot more support from guys like us and we’re very open about that. Not just us but the entire industry where gamers can focus on training and not worry about anything else.
PTB: Right, because in some countries, they do have full-time professional gaming athletes who just train and train.
MLT: That’s what we are really trying to do here, to invest in the industry and make a difference. If we just focus on selling product, we wouldn’t care. But to me, I think the entire industry is important. We need to do something to really take it to the next level where you can get the second generation of players to really view this as a career. That is important and I believe that Filipinos have the potential to do that.
PTB: Speaking of sponsoring teams, who are the local teams that Razer is supporting?
MLT: Oh yes, Mineski. We sponsored Mineski and also some other organizations like the Philippine eSport organization. Mineski has been doing really, really well and we’ve been supporting them for a long time pretty much in all games. We’re hoping to find a couple more teams to sponsor.
PTB: Being a leader in gaming hardware, how come we don’t see the Razer brand on eSport team names?
MLT: The thing is we have over 400 eSport athletes worldwide, and most of the top teams are Razer-supported.. the top teams in League of Legends, the top teams in Starcraft, the top teams in DOTA, so we don’t ask them to put the Razer on their name any more. We don’t believe in spending money to get people to be sponsored. They’re usually friends of Razer, they’re using our products already, then we work with them.
PTB: Ok going to your products, when are we going to see your Blade here in the country? There are quite a number of Razer fanatics who are dying to get their hands on one.
MLT: Oh you mean this Blade (points to his personal laptop)? Right now the demand in US has been insane. Every shipment is just being sold out. We just launched in Australia and from what I hear, it’s sold out also so we don’t have stocks left for anywhere in the world. Right now we’re just focusing on keeping up with demands in the US. I feel bad about it but that’s what it is.
The Razer Blade on display during PGF 2013
PTB: What’s the news about your gaming tablet?
MLT: So we have the Razer Edge which won the best in CES this year. It’s the only tablet in the world that can run Battlefield 3 at an incredible framerate and it has been doing insanely well for us. Unfortunately we don’t have it here.
PTB: Care to share any figures on how Razer is doing in the Philippines?
MLT: I have personally no idea on how we’re doing from the sales perspective. To be honest, I really don’t care about sales but I do see that we got hundreds of thousands of gaming fans from the Philippines for Razer. I think overall we do see Philippines as one of our growing markets and it’s one of the reason why I came here myself… to check out the scene. We have a target in creating or designing products and shipping it but we don’t really have a target in terms of sales or anything like that. We just make sure that at the end of the year we’re not at a loss.
PTB: Would you know who are your competitors out here?
MLT: To be candid, at Razer we don’t really look at competitors. We have a lot of respect for the brands out there but Razer is probably one of the few, or only gaming company where all designs are in-house. We do all our tech in-house. We design our hardware and software from ground up and the tech that we have in our mice, keyboards, headphones are usually generations ahead of the competition. There’s a joke that every time we release a new product, the first people who buy our products are usually the competitors.
PTB: Lastly, are you concerned of brands that price their gaming products way cheaper than yours, and probably eating up your market?
MLT: I think they’re good for the industry. The thing about Razer is that we have two kinds of mice, two kinds of keyboards… we have very few product lines and because of the type of technology we put in our products, they tend to be expensive. You also realize that we never discount our products. But we design products that we want ourselves so we don’t ever design to price. If we design to price then we’ll have to compromise. The other companies are ok to compromising, they use cheaper materials and stuff like that to bring the price down and I think that’s also good. What they can do is serve another group of users, those in a budget and once the budget-user gets used to it, then they might want to upgrade and that’s where we come in.
Here’s me with the Razer Chief in his signature black v-neck shirt during PGF 2013
PTB: Thanks a lot for your time Min. I guess I’ll see you again tomorrow (at the PGF).
MLT: You’re welcome! Oh and before you go, we have a little something for you (hands over a Razer Kraken headphones).