BenQ, which is best known for PC gaming monitors, has expanded its eSports focus by acquiring Zowie Gear. Beginning at CES 2016, BenQ will showcase its new line of gaming monitors alongside Zowie Gear s 2015 line-up of keyboards, gaming mice, and mouse pads. BenQ is using the Zowie brand across all of its eSports products, and the company will be marketing that brand through eSports sponsorships and other avenues.
Former Counter-Strike pro gamer Ronald Rambo Kim, product marketing communications coordinator for eSports at BenQ, explains what this move means for eSports in this exclusive interview.
How did the relationship with Zowie come about
We ve worked with Zowie since 2010. They helped us design our gaming monitor. They re based near our headquarters in Taiwan. We re bringing all their gaming peripherals into our product line. At CES 2016, we ll have five or six different Zowie mouses, keyboards, and mouse pads from their 2015 line. Even though they re from 2015, they re new for us.
All future BenQ gaming-related merchandise will be introduced under the Zowie name. The new eSports devices will focus on ergonomics and personalization to enhance player performance and enjoyment.
Can you talk about the role eSports has played for BenQ over the years
We sponsor a lot of leagues internationally, including EVO, MLG, UMG, ESEA, and various ESL tournaments across the globe. We re in negotiation with all of them to extend into peripheral sponsorship with the Zowie brand.
How have you seen these types of league sponsorships impact sales of BenQ monitors
Over the last three or four years we ve seen eSports growing at such a rapid pace. There are so many more gamers. And now with Twitch and YouTube Gaming, the fan base is growing even larger. ESports has been phenomenal for our monitor sales. Our pro players love to use them as well. It s been a great partnership.
What pro teams do you sponsor
We sponsor 12 teams in all regions, including Evil Geniuses, Cloud9, VirtusPro, Flash Wolves, Fnatic, Mousesports, TeamNxl, Grubby, MiTH, TCM, and Orange ESports.
What role does eSports play in your overall marketing plans for BenQ monitors
ESports and our gaming monitors is a huge part of our business, and we recognize how important it is. We do a lot of R&D into our gaming products. And we ve seen rapid growth in sales and in customer satisfaction.
How do you see your Zowie acquisition impacting that brand
Zowie has been around for five years, but they haven t had the budget to market their products. We worked with them for five years before deciding to acquire them.
How do you work with pro gamers in developing new products
We fly in top pros to our headquarters to get direct feedback on what features they like. That s our foundation on how we build products. It s a process Zowie also used and we re continuing that.
What do you feel differentiates Zowie from other eSports brands
Whether you re a professional gamer or an avid gamer, you need equipment that will stand up under pressure. We get a lot of feedback from our customers and community, and we have a good basis of how to meet that demand.
Zowie really focuses our gaming products for the top professionals. It s not your generic office or work mouse. And its features translate to the highest level of play.
Can you detail what s being shown at CES
We ll have seven or eight different mouse shells that will fit any hand out there for right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous gamers. There s also new laser technology that involves the lift-off distance of the mouse from the mouse pad, which means you don t have to lift your mouse as high. We also have two different mouse pads. One has more friction. Zowie has developed a foundation of the mouse pad where they ve eliminated the air bubbles and gaps. So you won t feel any minor bumps that might be caused by some of the other brands.
When will new Zowie products be released
Our goal is to create a full product line from monitors to keyboards, to mouse and mouse pads. We re currently researching headsets and we re working to ship on one before Q2.
How do you plan on differentiating Zowie headsets from the competition out there
Comfort will be the main focus. And the electronic system has to be 100% accurate, so you can positional hear sound in the game based on the electronics in the headset. We know the market is crowded, but we have a strong R&D team and we can fine-tune and make a final product that will deliver a highly satisfactory experience.
What platforms are you targeting with your headset
Our headset should work on any console or PC gaming system.
As a former Counter-Strike pro, what are your thoughts on how popular CS:GO is today
It doesn t surprise me. It s always been such a classic first-person shooter game. I played on Team 3D seven years.
What impact do you feel Turner Sports eSports televised play will have on CS:GO and brands involved in 2016 and beyond
The Turner ELeague is exciting. We ve tried to publicly televise gaming through the Champions Gaming Series on DirecTV a few years back. Now with the community being so big, it doesn t surprise me that there s a new movement into televised eSports. It s great for sponsors and products to reach a televised audience.
What are your thoughts on how much eSports prize pools have risen over the last few years
It s great because it s a way pros can make a living doing what they love. Being a gamer, it s entertaining to watch gamers play at a high level. There are star players that are fun to watch.
What has eSports opened up for former pro gamers like yourself
There are more career opportunities today than ever before. Instead of playing competitively, you can become a full-time streamer and play online, you can work with leagues or tournaments, you can become game designers. A surprising number of pros I used to play with have gone on to professional poker.
What s the correlation with poker and eSports
When you compete at the highest level of gaming, you have to be able to process information at the highest speed and see the scenario unfold in a few seconds. It also involves math, good instincts, and making the right call.
How important is gaming equipment to pro gamers
Being a pro gamer, I realize how important equipment is. I ve tried over 50 different keyboards, mouses, and mouse pads to get the right combo. I went to Zowie in Taiwan and with the different shells we re able to get that perfect fit for any gmer, and then two different fictions on the pads. I feel like I have a good understanding of what gamers want and what gamers need.
BenQ is promoting its new curved screen monitor. Why doesn t that work for eSports
The curved screen is designed for those looking for the most immersive PC gaming experience. It envelopes your peripheral vision. It enhances the gaming experiences. We found for pros that 24-inch is the optimum screen size that they can process visually. The curved screen is 35 inches.