Over the past few years, we have seen Razer delivering a seemingly never ending supply of fantastic gaming hardware. But in the past few months, the American gaming hardware manufacturer appears to have taken a few bizarre steps. With an ill-fated attempt to enter the mobile gaming market, some unexpectedly lacklustre laptops, and a series of redundancies, there are now big questions as to where Razer will go next.
Ever since the brand was launched in San Diego in 2005, Razer have become a pioneering force in the world of esports. Their gaming hardware was frequently seen as being among the best in the business, and whilst prototypes like the three-screen laptop, Project Valerie, were amusing, they showed that Razer could generate headlines without trying.
But as the competitive gaming world is set to become a billion dollar industry in 2019, we have seen several high profile tech brands making moves to occupy the space carved out by Razer. From Samsung getting serious about gaming, to HP’s recently unveiled cut-price Omen 15 gaming laptop, it seems that Razer is having to fight harder than ever to maintain its market share.
As a result, we have seen Razer moving into uncharted waters with some seriously mixed results. This was perfectly seen when the hardware brand tried to crack the mobile gaming market. Initial results from this venture seemed promising. But just this week it was announced that the forthcoming Razer 3 Phone would be cancelled.
Whilst the Razer Phone 2 would go ahead as planned, the fact that the Razer 3 is being withdrawn from development will cast a cloud over the company’s fortunes. This is especially true as Razer made the shock move to axe 30 jobs from its mobile division. This will reduce the Razer workforce by 2% and it marks a move to step away from its mobile gaming ambitions.
Although Razer have stated that it sees big opportunities in mobile hardware, it’s thought that the Razer 2 Phone could be the last piece of mobile kit we see from the brand for the foreseeable future. The current smartphone market is extremely competitive and whilst Razer aimed to target a niche gaming audience, it couldn’t seem to cope with the aggressive price point strategies of market leaders like Samsung and Apple.
As a result, there had been hopes that Razer would get back to what it does best – producing supremely powerful gaming laptops and desktop computers. The brand had made moves to sponsor top competitive gaming teams like Gen.G who regularly are amongst the favourites on betting sites like www.liveesportsbetting.com, and by showcasing their hardware at the biggest esports tournaments, it was hoped that Razer would cement its reputation for producing the world’s best gaming hardware.
However those plans appear to have taken a hit with the arrival of the Razer Blade Stealth. This gaming laptop was released earlier this year, and it received a mixed response from reviewers. Whilst the limited edition quartz pink finish may have grabbed a few headlines, it didn’t mask the basic fact that this was widely perceived to be a step backwards for Razer.
Although many people commended its relatively low price point, it was still considered to be expensive for its 256GB storage. Plus many critics stated that everything from the short battery life to the lacklustre 25-watt MX150 GPU put the Razer Blade Stealth at a distinct disadvantage to its competitors.
Obviously, this release was the exception to the rule in terms of Razer’s gaming hardware. But it has led many people to believe that Razer is suffering from something of an identity crisis. It makes sense for a brand to diversify its options in order to maintain a competitive edge. But with weak releases like the Razer Blade Edge and the ill-fated mobile project, it seems that Razer are in danger of losing their way.
Nowhere was this better seen than in the company’s decision to close its game store earlier this month. The Razer Game Store was the brand’s first effort to tackle this tricky market, but as part of its ‘realignment plans’, it look like Razer is taking an early exit. The project had only been in operation since April 2018 and it was hoped that its exclusive game deals would help Razer to find new sources of revenues.
But as the Razer Game Store wasn’t a direct portal like Steam or the Epic Games Store, it seems that many gamers preferred to go straight to the source for their entertainment. As a result, the brand’s ambitions to be a distributor have suffered the same fate as their smartphone project, and it looks like 2019 will pose plenty of tough questions for the bosses at Razer.