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SA Gaming Heavyweights Weigh In - The Hardware People

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(Article authors: Ryno Warwick / Han Cilliers)

Today we have a very special group interview with you. We managed to track down four of South Africa's biggest hardware and peripheral importers and distributors. Join us as we chat to Rectron, SteelSeries, Razer and Pinnacle South Africa about gaming hardware, eSports involvement, the good, the bad and what's to come in 2015.

It's a big interview, but I recommend you read the whole article as you'll hear directly from the big guns about things that will affect every South African gamer.

Participants:for

  1. Pinnacle South Africa: Frances Lombard | Gaming Business Development Manager
  2. SteelSeries:  Alan Spohr | Accessory Product Manager
  3. Rectron: Francois Rheeders | Brand Manager
  4. Razer: Jan Horak, PR Lead (Europe)

Share some of  your best moments/highlights of 2014

SteelSeries

Last year was a big year for SteelSeries. We started the year with our ten year anniversary of the Siberia Headset line, which has become one of the most iconic headsets on the tournament scene. We looked at every single one of our categories and began implementing innovative technologies into every single one of them - from headsets to keyboards and beyond.

We launched the Sensei Wireless gaming mouse - recognized as the best wireless mouse on the planet with zero lag. We introduced the H Wireless Gaming Headset - the highest rated wireless headset within the gaming scene. We also managed to partner with some of the most innovative brands like Tobii Technology with the introduction of the Sentry Eye Tracker - the world’s first eye tracker designed for eSports, streamers and gamers alike.

In South Africa, we launched the SteelSeries Step Up campaign, where we called on the community to donate their unwanted gear, Which we in return would scheduled as a donation to those less fortunate. With the strong activation of the community and response we had received during that campaign, we kicked off an entirely new concept in South Africa with Orena, where we chose to drive the tournaments sponsorship completely based on community support.

eSports is a part of who we are as a brand and our partnerships with Fnatic and Na’Vi grew incredibly strong, and their teams of players did exceptionally well. The local partnership we have with Energy eSports, mimics that same level of passion. The team had great results in 2014 - inside of their own leagues and during DGC where they then went on to represent South Africa at the ESWC for CS:GO.

Razer

2014 was a great year for us. In January, we won “Best of CES”: awards for both the Nabu (“People’s Choice”) and our Project Christine modular PC prototype (“Best PC”) at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This was the fourth time in a row that we won the popular “Best of CES” vote at the show - and we won it again this year. Our release of the world’s first mechanical keyboard switches designed specifically for gaming was an exciting advent. The unveiling of the Razer Chroma series of mice, keyboards and headset was incredible… and colourful!

Welcoming our 6 millionth Facebook Fan and millionth Twitter follower was mind-blowing. All the goings-on of our nearly 400 sponsored, competitive gamers provided myriad fun moments, as did fan events like the DreamHack series and others.

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Any disappointing moments?

SteelSeries

There were no disappointments, just places where we felt we could learn and continue to improve. Those moments have set us up to have an incredible 2015 - be prepared!

Razer

Not being at rAge. We love South Africa and rAge is one of the coolest events ever, but sadly we could not make it last year. We love to get in touch with our South African fans and provide more opportunities to get directly in contact with Razer, to experience our newest products, first-hand.

What’s next for your company?

SteelSeries

We look forward to our new Mechanical keyboard M800. Taking gaming to another level in terms of speed, customizable options and just pure performance. This along with our upgrades on the Siberia V3 and ELITE prism headsets, with top performance microphone, memory foam for even better comfort for the long sessions of gaming.

Razer

We will keep redefining the boundaries of today’s technology like always. With our push into virtual reality with the OSVR that we announced at CES 2015, and the merging of hardcore and Android gaming in the living room with Razer Forge TV, we certainly have fun opportunities that will keep us busy. Our ongoing commitment to wearables—currently with Nabu and Nabu X—is a long-term product category for us that we will continue to focus on. Other than that, we’ll stay committed to meeting the expressed desires of the Razer community and our legions of pro gamers.

Sibera SteelSeries.jpg 

What are you bringing to South African gamers this year?

SteelSeries

Our goal is to continue the growth of eSports in South Africa. In fact, we are currently working with partners within the region that will bring more news on that over the next few months.

Razer

Our collaboration with Team Bravado and the partnership we had with Do Gaming League in 2014 are prime examples of what we can achieve on a local scale. As a company with a long history in eSports and a dedicated commitment to our community, we are always looking for new opportunities to support growing gaming scenes. Hopefully, more teams and events will spring-up this year. Whether there is an exciting new gaming event or an emerging eSports team, we are eager to advise and promote motivated gamers.

Interested parties can contact us via razerzone.com and we will be happy to get in touch with them.

For 2015, we will keep on working closely with Team Bravado. They are home to some of the best competitive gamers in South Africa, and it has been great working with them so far. With team sponsorships, we plan to help players in many ways, leveraging our years of expertise in competitive gaming with skills workshops and product support, and also helping with event organization and support. Razer continuously scouts for new teams, great competitive events and organizations. If you think that you have what it takes to become a part of the worldwide eSports elite, visit our eSports site on razerzone.com/team and apply.

Pinnacle Africa

It is hard to define what we are bringing to gamers this year – in terms of Hardware we have already introduced Cougar but we are strengthening our product portfolio from Fractal Design, Chassis, PSU’s and coolers, and also launching Func – a new range of peripherals. 

Outside of this, our commitment to e-sports and the high-performance enthusiast will grow with some great gaming tournaments and activities to be held throughout 2015 with some of our key partners.

Rectron

Rectron has constantly expanded its product offering over the last couple of years to serve the different niche markets that have sprouted from conventional computing. One of the most prevalent markets is personal entertainment or better known as Gaming. To cater for the vast customisability required for computer gaming, the range of products on offer is ever increasing.

Ranging from high-power small form factor hardware to the massive Quad SLI capable hardware we are used to seeing with some of the more seasoned hardware enthusiasts. We aspire to cover all the needs of the gaming community, from entry level to the more specialised, through the range of products we offer.

Hardware combinations are as limited as your imagination really allows, which means that gamers can customise their hardware based on various factors in order to give them the results they want. Rectron currently distributes leading brands like GIGABYTE, Intel, Corsair, CoolerMaster, BenQ, Aorus and Samsung, which means that resellers and customers have many options at their disposal. For example, if you are pro-silent operation over noise on your system, or you need something you can easily transport to and from LAN events, for instance – there are options available to suit gamers’ needs. Whatever the requirement, Rectron can probably supply gamers with what they want via their nearest reseller outlet.  

Some of the most exciting products on the cards for this year are the beautiful curved desktop monitors from Samsung, as well as the class-leading 144Hz FreeSync capable BenQ Gaming Monitors.

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What has been the main challenges in bringing hardware to South African gamers?

Pinnacle South Africa

One of the main challenges for us is the remoteness of South Africa. It means we have to make purchasing decisions based on our ability to move bulk and a hefty delay on freight versus flying items air and ridiculous charges. I personally believe that if we can get more competitive opportunities for the gaming community we will be able to see more volume in gaming hardware – that will be a definite win-win.

Rectron

The feedback I get when addressing consumers on hardware purchases, is that it still seems to be a daunting affair – and it definitely can be. The technicalities one encounters with computer hardware are vast and can easily dampen the purchasing experience. However, it is significantly less than what it used to be a few years ago.

It all comes down to education. Frequently consumers or aspiring gamers purchase a desktop, expecting marvelous gaming performance because they bought a fast desktop processor. However, they didn’t purchase a graphics card and, therefore, the experience is severely hampered because the machine does not have the adequate graphics power to do justice to the game.  This type of experience often leaves the consumer reverting back to a console because of its plug and play appeal while the appeal of modularity goes out the door as customers then need to spend money again. Unfortunately once someone has had this experience they will most likely not attempt desktop gaming again for a very long time, if ever.  

An educated consumer would be able to make better decisions based on their individual needs or wants, Which in turn would give them a better overall gaming experience and they will gradually expand into further avenues of customisation – like purchasing a monitor that gives them even better color reproduction, using mechanical keyboards or getting a better mouse for their style of gameplay.  

Just like any other purchase decision people will get a better-applied experience once they know what they are buying, and how that will affect the end result. Self-education on hardware will indefinitely enhance the purchasing experience, and simplified guides are available all over the web. Like this one by GeForce – PC components.

Rectron.jpg 

If there is one thing you would like to tell South African gamers about buying hardware what would it be?

Pinnacle South Africa

Power supply, Power supply – POWER SUPPLY.

So often, you see gamers stretching their pockets for the fastest graphics card and processor money can buy – and they find the extra moola by skimping on the Power Supply. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying get a 1200w beast – I recommend 550w-750w but get at least 80+ and if possible 80+ Bronze or Gold. Everything gets connected to this bad boy… and you don’t want it going Kabang mid-match!

Rectron

As mentioned in the previous point, self-education is important if users wish to get the desired experience from their hardware. Unless users know where each component adds value to their desired system, they may not get the result they expect. For instance, opting for a solid state hard drive over a mechanical hard drive may decrease the loading time of games significantly – but it won’t necessarily increase the frame rate. So the term “faster” needs to be used in moderation from time to time.  

Any big hardware changes coming in 2015?

Pinnacle South Africa

This year is big for gamers, firstly Seagate have launched an 8TB drive, that’s right – 1 drive, 8TB … this is great for home clouds, NAS boxes and media centres. Intel are entering a big transition with Broadwell on the horizon. It will be a shrink in architecture and massive performance improvement – but not DDR 4 on mainstream desktop just yet – that remains exclusive to the X99 Haswell E refresh. 

Sometimes though the simplest changes are considered the best. The USB 3.1 finally offers a USB port where you don’t have to try to figure out which way is up as you plug a cable into the back of your PC in some dark and dusty corner, above the convenience there will be a significant data transfer speed improvement as well.  

Rectron

The current buzz in the market is about the resolution changes in monitors and gaming. 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) is becoming the benchmark for gaming. Monitors supporting this native resolution are becoming more available, and the costs are coming down as well. Even hardware drivers are now upscaling content at the time of rendering to give users a higher displayed resolution on their current monitor. 

On the Graphics card front, with the Maxwell architecture implemented in Graphics cards by Nvidia of late, the cost of Graphics Hardware has also been reduced greatly. The GTX960 recently launched and is promising reasonable 60FPS gaming on Ultra Settings for BF4*, for a reasonable R 3600 at retail. That in conjunction with the much lower power requirements, thermal generation and noise, make these very attractive for the aspiring gamer.  

*Review settings can be found here

eSports forms an important part of gaming, we therefore added a few extra questions to SteelSeries.

SteelSeries.jpg 

Do you consider extending support to more gamers who want to go professional?

We have a strong partnership with Energy eSports, who represent a number of players working hard to break into the professional scene. There are already some new additions, one of which we have seen already with the XBOX CoD team F34R. We can’t speak too specifically to our plans this year, but stay tuned.

What are the things SteelSeries look at before supporting a gamer?

Professionalism – Both as an Organisation or as a player, one needs to conduct yourself in a way that can be respected by your sponsors, your team and competitors.

Sportsmanship – All pro teams are out to be No.1. As a team you will have your wins, and you will have your loses, however no matter what happens, we are all part of the bigger picture that is eSports, so we respect and acknowledge fair play.

Vision – As a player or a Team you need to have your goals, it’s not just about being the best, it’s about how you plan to get there and for that you need vision.

What would you like to see happen in SA eSports?

We want to see community driven activities put into the forefront. When there are excitement and initiative taken in eSports, brands like ours sit up and take notice. We want to see more tournaments, we want to see eSports organizations and players being active within the community. When passion takes the lead, then we start to see players and teams improve skills and the regional interest in eSports flourishes. It’s how the growth of this started. South Africa is already on this path; the community response has been incredible, and we encourage, and hope to see even more of it in 2015.  

Where to find:

SteelSeries: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Rectron: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Razer: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Pinnacle South Africa: Website | Facebook | Twitter

A massive thank you to Frances Lombard, Alan Spoh, Francois Rheeders and Jan Horak. We know how extremely busy your schedules are, so we appreciate the time you took to chat with us. From the MWEB GameZone team, we want to thank Rectron, Pinnacle, Razer and SteelSeries for their dedication South Africa gaming. May you have a prosperous 2015.

More from other SA gaming heavyweights

 

Han: Twitter / Ryno: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook

Other News from Around the 'Net:

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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