This was a wonderful interview to get put in
-- and it was glorious to see the company still around and getting
back into a thriving position again. The Razer Boomslang, from its
original release to this day, has remained a pinnacle of
performance for its users, and I'm happy to say that my dependable
Boomslang 2000 has so far outlasted three high-end mousepads and
shows no sign of stopping.
Robert was kind enough to answer a
doubled set of questions, on every topic I could pass his way, and
our thanks go to him for the time he put in answering all these
questions. The goods are below: as usual, my questions in blue,
his answers in tan.
big... Way back when the Razer mice were just an idea, did you
ever see the gaming world becoming what it is today? Back when we
first met, 3dfx were fighting tooth and nail against NVidia, ATi
wasn't really big in the picture, and the only products that were
even coming close to what the Razer mice do were optical mice,
which seem to have stalled in their designs.
very beginning we did a great amount of research on the gaming
market. We interviewed hundreds of avid gamers, both on the PC
side and the console side. Many people told us that the market was
too small for us to be successful. We spoke to 3Dfx in 1999 and
they gave us much hope about the future and expansion into a
worldwide global market. They were extremely nice and helpful to
us, and we were saddened to see them absorbed. They owned the
hardcore video card market in 1999, and they lost their edge when
they decided to enter the mass market and become just another
brand. From a technology standpoint they made some mistakes and
lost touch with the marketplace that made them. They became
vulnerable to a company with superior technology.
How does it feel to be back in the "we can't make them fast
enough" position, as opposed to the position Karna was in
previously, selling limited-runs through an eBay store?
very clear, selling Razer products through eBay was not our idea
or doing. Our previous distributor couldnít find the proper
channels to sell the product and used auctions as a method to dump
product. We are now associated with a ďrealĒ distributor, one
that can move products into the retail channels, one with the
sales and support structure to take care of our loyal customers.
They actually did too good a job selling our new product in Europe
and we are now on allocation to the rest of the world. Naturally,
it doesnít hurt too much that the new Mystify/Razer Boomslang
2500 appears to be a great product.
Hindsight being 20/20, are there any things
you might have done differently that might have kept things a bit
rosier, or was it just a stroke of bad luck?
are always things that one could have done better, such as select
a better business partner to distribute our products in the past.
However, our largest challenge was just bad timing. We had a
successful product that was in high demand around the world. After
about 18 months of initial sales, it was time to begin the process
of adding new products. We never had a lot of capital when we
started and the sales form Boomslangs kept us going, but the
pressure was on to develop the next great product. Our fans told
us what they wanted, and we began the research and
development phase for Mamba, Raptor and testing of headphones.
When the time came to raise capital to complete these projects, we
went out to investors and venture capitalists around the world.
What happened is that we could not raise any money because our
timing coincided with the .COM disaster. Investors lumped us into
that area, saying that we were a technology company and they were
no longer loaning money to technology companies. Our loyal fans
and our dreams kept us alive for the next 18 months.
Whatever did happen to the Mamba? Just
on the drawing boards. We will make decisions to add new products
after we can fulfill the product demands for the 2500 model.
What differentiates the new 2500 model from
about 200 engineering modifications and improvements Ö the most
noticeable being the new optic encoder lens, the lighter weight,
the forged steel rollers, the softer and even longer cable, the
new mouseball, new Teflon glide-pads, new micro-switches, new
scroll wheel assembly, etc, etc. Itís really a brand new product
reengineered from the ground up.
Is it nice to see original series 2000's and
1000's, faithfully maintained, that owners still love and play
have some of the most loyal and proud fans of any other product
ever. They write me with ideas for mods, new designs, product fix,
new product concepts, wallpapers, you name it. Most of them
proudly include their model number along with their name. Some own
6 to 8 Boomers and just want to make certain that they have a
backup just in case Ö itís also amazing that so many today
still own an operational first edition Razer mouse. Very cool
Looking over the proliferation of optical
mice and the Razer's performance by comparison; while some of it
is obviously the Razer's design, fitting the fingers where most
mice are an entire-hand operation, there's always the raw
performance of the Razer's trackball when combined with a decent
mousepad. Would you say the comparison between cars of automatic
or manual transmission is a fair analogy?
itís the difference between a Ford and a Porsche. Both will get
you there, but one is a whole lot more fun to drive. And once
youíve driven a Porsche (or a Razer) is really hard to go back
to that Ford (you fill in the brand).
Any thoughts on why, where the Razer mice
proved that a mouse doesn't have to have the tried-and-trite look
and function relying on a full-hand grip, no optical mouse
creators or other companies have embraced a similar shell or tried
to come up with a third design?
industrial design served several purposes. Initially, we were a
really small and unknown player in a very crowded arena. We had to
take some risks with our product design and marketing just to get
noticed. Secondly, due to our ultra-high sensitivity, we could
create a design that could be utilized with a minimum of movement
and fingertip controls. Ours is still the only mouse that you can
actually control using only a single finger.
Any ideas on other Razer products that might
come eventually? A Razer trackball, perhaps? Or gamepad/joystick
devices with the high precision technology the Razer mice contain?
where your questions really get tough. Without hedging or
sidestepping the question, I can answer it like this Ö Razerís
mission, as a company is to ďenhance the gaming experienceĒ.
We can play in all of the product classifications you mentioned,
BUT we donít want to become a ďme-tooĒ company. That is, we
donít want to come out with an optical or wireless mouse just
because everyone else offers one. We will only create and develop
products under the Razer or Mystify brand that offer the end user
What's your favorite computer game,
currently? Of all time?
Quake II, although I believe that the Thief series were the most
innovative FPS games ever.
If you've seen it, what's your take on ATi's
remote control device that they sell separate as well as packaging
with the All-In-Wonder units?
I havenít placed my grubby paws on one yet.
PS2, Gamecube, or Xbox?
company figures out how to apply itís hardware and software to
the mouse and keyboard, so real gamers can play
action/adventure/sports games without having to use those f___ing
controllers. From where I sit today PS2 would seem to have an
on Question #1: ("They became vulnerable to a company with
superior technology") -- do you see parallels between the
NVidia/3dfx wars and the ATi/NVidia competition going on right
not really an expert on whatís happening today. While Razer was
on the beach for about 18 months, I began working on a couple of
other projects within the gaming area. I see some similarities
inasmuch as NVidia is pretty much in the same position as 3Dfx was
when they lost their focus. Although ATI has been around a while,
they can be quite formidable with their focus attacking technology
while the competition is busy defending all fronts.
What do you think of Microsoft's current
idea for PC gaming in the future: to set up a "Levels"
system, probably using some form of a benchmark tool, such that PC
games instead of listing system specs will say "Level 3 or
up" or something similar on the hardware requirements section
of the box, and maybe system specs in the manual. Is this a good
thing or something to wait and see on?
so radical a concept that weíll have to wait and see. I really
havenít heard what the avid gaming community thinks of it yet.
Is it getting closer and closer to the time
when PCs should dump the PS/2 port and move keyboards and mice
exclusively to USB, or is the technology not quite there yet? Will
the new Razer line continue carrying around the PS/2 adapter with
the PSFlex port overclocking software for users who somehow wind
up with a Razer mouse and not enough USB ports to go around?
is going the way of the serial port.
USB is the standard for input devices today and in the
future. Players who donít have enough USB ports should invest in
a USB hub. PS/2 uses system resources. Why bother? Our new XP
drivers donít support PS/2. Say bye-bye.
Gotten that rocket jump down yet?
in the world, right behind Fatal1ty ;-)
When I initially reviewed the Boomslang 2000
I noted that, for users with shorter fingers, the scroll wheel is
in a "just out of reach" position. It appears the 2500
has a very similar form factor to the 2000, but since it's hard to
tell from pictures, is it any larger/smaller and how's the
positioning of the wheel.
much the same positioning. We had many requests to move it up, and
many requests from existing users to leave it where it is. When
Mamba comes out it will solve that issue for players with smaller
hands. Personally, when gaming I prefer the keyboard to the
scroller in any mouse.
the long run any interface that supports the keyboard/mouse is
great for us. I havenít played Freelancer yet, but if it IS
Diablo or Morrowmind in space, I will definitely check it out.
Iíve never warmed up to the learning curve of RPG space
adventure games. Personally, I have never found a flight stick
that responded as well as a mouse. Come to think of it, I have
never used a flightstick that I really liked. The same goes for
gamepad; give me the keyboard any day.
Have you seen Freelancer yet? If not, what
are your thoughts on companies doing like Digital Anvil did, and
foregoing flightstick/gamepad support in favor of making an
interface that works exceptionally well on keyboard/mouse alone?