It’s no secret that gaming as an industry grows by leaps and bounds every year. Now, with pro gaming and streaming both making up a tangible part of the gaming market, plenty more businesses want to establish themselves as the go-to resource for gamers’ needs. The show floor at CES revealed where several established gaming brands are going to end up butting heads with specialized companies in both audio and video, and it’ll be interesting to see how their individual approaches evolve over time.
When it comes to gaming monitors, particularly at the professional level, the brand most often out of gamers’ mouths is BenQ: they’ve established a reputation for making high-quality, high-performance gaming monitors. Sure, they also do projectors and more conventional monitors, but they’ve established a bit of a cult of personality globally with their gaming tech in particular.
They showed off their XL2730Z monitor this year, a 27-inch QHD model with an Auto Game Mode that switches its settings based on whether the player is playing an FPS, RTS, or MOBA. They also revealed a 35″ widescreen curved monitor, perfect for racing games due to the wide field of vision. At $799 and $899 respectively, BenQ’s new offerings definitely look for the high-end gamer.
Entering into the pro gaming monitor space, however, is Viewsonic. Though they’re typically best known for more enterprise-focused solutions, and they also are known for projectors and conventional monitors, but Viewsonic also showed off a number of gaming monitors at last year’s CES. This year they debuted their “XG” line of high-end, pro gaming monitors; they revealed both 24” and 27” models with 1ms response time, 144Hz refresh rate, and AMD FreeSync, but they also have a 27” 4K IPS monitor and a prototyped 24” compatible with NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology.
They’re also continuing their VX series of gaming monitors to appeal to gaming enthusiasts instead of pros; new 22”, 24”, and 27” models all implement AMD FreeSync, while they also have a 27” IPS display with a minimalist bezel for those interested in a smaller frame. With prices ranging from $201 for the 22” VX to $913 for the 4K XG2700, Viewsonic’s shooting to disrupt BenQ’s hold.
In the audio space, in contrast, Blue Microphones has typically owned the microphone space for streamers; though they’re a dedicated audio brand, their Yeti microphone is a go-to for people looking for an adaptable, versatile audio recording solution that users can customize for any situation with the turn of a dial. During this year and last year’s CES, Blue set up a special station in their booth to show off a livestreaming setup using the Blue Yeti in combination with their new, audiophile-style amped headphones. Even the lower-cost Snowball is a fan-favorite, and with their retro-futuristic visual style, Blue mics tend to even look good when they can’t be kept out of reach of the camera. They may not have started as a “gaming brand,” but gamers have come to take Blue on regardless.
Entering into the microphone space, however, is Razer, a brand virtually synonymous with professional gaming. They’ve added their sleek black-and-green touch to the microphone field with Seiren, which they showed off alongside their new Stargazer 3D camera. Razer won a CES Innovations Award this year for their new Razer Blade Stealth ultrabook, and they’re looking to establish themselves not as just a brand for professional gamers, but also what might be called “gaming professionals;” people who are mobile, but care about their gaming experience and want to take it with them. Though the Seiren came out last year, edging the market towards streamers just represents one more step Razer is taking towards creating a complete gaming ecosystem for those dedicated to the brand, and they could be giving Blue a serious run for their money.
Gamers tend to be very protective of their brands, and are willing to part with large amounts of money to make sure they have hardware they can be proud of. Though I wasn’t able to talk with a representative from BenQ, spokespeople from Viewsonic, Razer, and Blue all felt committed to their brands’ ability to bring a specialized experience to the gamer and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Viewsonic plans to win them over with their dependability and three-year warranty, while BenQ’s announcement of their ZOWIE peripherals shows they’re delving deeper into the gaming space. Razer’s Seiren and Seiren Pro offer much of the same functionality that users get from the Yeti, and they claim to be a brand that’s better for gamers because they know what gamers want. Still, Blue holds a big fan presence, particularly for those looking for purchases in the sub-$100 market, and they claim to have some upcoming news gamers may be particularly interested in.
No matter which way these battles go, the winner in all these scenarios is the gamer. Competition between both traditional brands and newcomers spurs innovation in the marketplace, and we get to reap the benefits of looking at more gorgeous games and sounding even better when we talk about them to people around the world. Keep an eye here at Popzara as we cover more gaming hardware.