We ask Alienware EMEA marketing manager Daniel Charbit about its new strategy, competing with UK system builders and what’s next for the brand.
PC gaming is a growing but extremely competitive market. What is your strategy in this space today?
As has always been the case – whether it’s a tower, mini- tower, notebook, or something more progressive like the Alienware Steam Machine or Alpha – we want gamers to love gaming on Alienware.
Today we see our community gaming on a variety of devices and doing it in a variety of places; we are pushing to develop that next device, partner with that next developer and cultivate that next gamer that can empower the infinite potential of gameplay.
What new products should retailers be aware of?
We have launched the Alienware Steam Machine in various countries around the world, including the UK. Last summer, we also announced Alienware portfolio updates, including the next-generation Alienware X51 gaming desktop and updated Alienware 13, 15 and 17 notebooks that address the needs of both gaming enthusiasts – and those that demand the most powerful gaming systems in the universe.
The PC gaming market has its fair share of budget offerings. Would Alienware launch a line of more affordable products, or is it purely focused on the mid to high-end?
Given what Alienware stands for, there are only so many concessions we can make before the solution no longer holds up to the brand.
That said, at Dell, we still want to deliver the best solution for all gamers out there.
With offerings such as the Dell Inspiron 7000 series, we have a chance to hit a great, affordable price point and still deliver a gaming-capable solution as well.
Some custom system builders have told us that tier 1 vendors like yourselves aren’t nimble enough to create custom gaming PCs, as you are too focused on creating mass- produced readymade gaming systems that become out of date. What is your reaction to that? Are you wary of system builders eating into your market?
We always strive to be first to market, and we proved it recently with adoption of the brand new Intel Skylake processors as soon as they were announced. For us, at the core of Alienware, we aim to deliver apex performance with iconic, innovative system design meant to inspire and delight gamers.
Additionally, we apply the same rigour during development of our Alienware line-up as we would to Dell branded products, such as the flagship XPS range – from the materials used, to the construction, and the overall design aesthetic. We’re also able to offer stellar reliability and support. With Alienware and Dell support offerings, users can rest easy that if something goes wrong, they have a team of world- class professionals willing and able to assist.
In terms of eSports, Juniper Research predicts that streaming services such as Twitch will grow to audiences of over 310m by 2020, making $1bn in subscriptions. Alienware had its own Korean eSports team in the past, so are you going to be doing more in that area?
Alienware currently sponsors many of the elite players in a variety of games across the eSports industry, including Team Liquid, plus Team Dignitas – one of eSports’ most successful and iconic professional gaming teams and organisations.
Team members use Alienware laptops to maintain their practice regimes and keep ahead of the competition, while travelling to tournaments all over the world. It’s great to be involved with a team that is so dedicated to raising the profile of eSports globally and, in doing so, driving the need for ever greater innovation in the gaming technology space.
In addition to supporting various teams in eSports, we are also working towards becoming a hardware partner behind some of the major tournaments and triple-A production teams in the scene.
Tell us about your Steam Machine – what are your sales expectations for that?
With Alienware’s strong heritage in PC gaming, and pushing it to the height of technological innovation, it seemed only natural to develop a machine that can provide the freedom and processing power of a specialised gaming PC as well as the comfort and ease of a living room console.
With a similar dedication to making PC gaming the exciting global community that it is, Valve is a natural partner in these efforts. We’re extremely excited about the opportunity the Alienware Steam Machine brings to the market, born from a joint vision and partnership with Valve. The Alienware Steam Machine is currently available to buy through Exertis and is available on Game.co.uk.
With 8K being talked about, and memory on the way that promises to be 1,000 times faster than NAND, the PC gaming sector has an exciting future. What is Alienware’s views on this growing space and where it can go from here?
Alienware continuously looks to be at the forefront of new technologies, on both the hardware and software side of things. And with our history of strong partner relationships, we’re well placed to make sure that we’re successful in this. Our most recent line-up of laptops and desktops – including the Alienware 13, Alienware 15, Alienware 17 and the Alienware X51 – is optimised for Microsoft’s Windows 10, including features such as DX12 and in- game DVR. And the Alienware Steam Machine is yet another example of how we are working and collaborating with partners to drive the types of innovation that we know gamers crave – not to mention our ongoing work in the virtual reality (VR) space.
What work are you doing there? What does Alienware think of VR and do you have any specific plans around that category?
We’re here to serve our people, the gamers. And part of the responsibility is being on the cutting edge and always pushing the envelope. For VR it’s incredibly exciting because the technology is really coming along. We’re working with companies like Oculus on Rift, and HTC on Vive, as well as a variety of other companies that are looking to innovate in the VR space. We feel both companies have very capable technologies and at this stage the experience is heavily dependent on high performance PCs.
Each company has a slightly different business model and approach but most agree that gaming will lead the adoption. That fact is a great rallying point for our companies and is inevitably the driving force behind these partnerships – gamers deserve the best. Beyond the hardware solutions, the content is critical. At Alienware we have longstanding relationships with the vast majority of game developers, whether leaders in the industry or independent developers expanding the boundaries of the gaming ecosystem.