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Razer: Made for Gamers by Gamers - An Interview with Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff

Staff Writer Carolyn Koh recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff, the co-founder and President of Razer, about their line of gaming mice.

Interview with Robert “Razerguy” Krakoff
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Not all mice are created equal, nor are keyboards. For the majority of us gamers (especially us MMOG gamers), we direct a lot of attention to the selection of our CPUs and video cards, but our peripherals are an afterthought. We are still using the cheap headset, a wireless mouse, the old key-board that came with the last, last computer build.

As gamers look for better peripherals to enhance their gaming performance, manufacturers are beginning to take notice and only in the past few years have mainstream manufacturers begun to cater to the gamer.

Here at MMORPG.com, we've started a section on hardware reviews from the MMO gamers' perspective. I took this one step further and sought out one of the top PC gaming peripheral manufacturers, Razer. Razer leapt into the forefront of the "must have" gaming peripheral when the Razer Boomslang launched in 1999, and became the favorite mouse of professional gamers such as Jonathon "Fatal1ty" Wendell. Then, in 2004, their Diamondback (claimed to be the world's first 1600 dpi optical gaming mouse) won the accolade of being named Gamespot's Gaming Hardware of the Year (Personally, I use that mouse in the spiff red version).

Since then, Razer has expanded their stable to include keyboards, mousing surfaces and audio products. Jeremy Star has already reviewed the Razer Krait and has a review of the DeathAdder in the works, and I bring to you an interview with Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff. I've always been of the opinion that the wireless mouse may be okay for office work, but when it comes to gaming where the split-second of lag may mean the failure of a raid, serious gamers should depend on wired input devices, and Razerguy concurs.

MMORPG.com:

What is Razer all about?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

From day one our philosophy and company mission has been to "enhance the gaming experience" by providing serious gamers with a distinct hardware edge within their favorite game genres. We develop all of our products internally vs. the way some companies wish to work with external or OEM partners to create hardware, firmware and driver solutions. We do this in order to give the public products with highly unique and award-winning industrial designs and the cutting-edge technology that they need. In essence, we believe in searching out the unmet needs of gamers and delivering high quality products that perform beyond their expectations.

MMORPG.com:

You say that Razer collaborates with gamers to develop, manufacture and market cutting-edge gaming peripherals. How is that accomplished?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

We have several "outside innovation" programs in place today. We encourage and seek out avid gamers with an interest in engineering and gaming hardware. We test and validate all of our concepts with these innovators and a select group of sponsored professional players before a new product is ever released.

MMORPG.com:

What features in the audio products - the sound-card, head phones & speakers - make them specifically advantageous to the gamer?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

For the Barracuda soundcard and headset combo, we focused on enhanced positional audio. This supports our company's mission of enhancing the gaming experience by offering a competitive edge to those that use the combo. For the upcoming Mako speakers, we will turn the desktop into a virtual soundstage and provide the definitive experience in amplification. I could go on and on about the Mako, but for the sake of time and space, I humbly suggest that your readers take the time to seek out a retail demo once the Mako is launched and decide for themselves.


MMORPG.com:

How did you get together with Microsoft to co-develop and co-brand the Habu and the Reclusa? Who made the first move?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

We had heard from literally thousands of gamers over the last few years that we should develop a mouse that used the form of the IE 3.0 while using internal Razer engineering. We wanted to create this product, but didn't want to tread on Microsoft's unique design. We made the initial contact and Microsoft hardware executives had heard the same comments from gamers and told us that if we hadn't contacted them, they would have eventually contacted us.

MMORPG.com:

Are you still working together with Microsoft on further products?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

Our contract with Microsoft is still in place and that is about all I can really comment on at this time.

MMORPG.com:

Why are all of your peripherals wired as opposed to having wireless options?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

We make our products for avid and higher-end competitive players. Wireless products have several drawbacks in competition. Latency, battery weight and life, signal conflict in a LAN environment, etc are all considerations for gamers that use our products. This is not to say that these issues cannot be overcome, or that we are not working on ways to solve them. When the timing is right, Razer will be the company to make wireless products that perform as well as or better than wired products currently out on the marketplace.

MMORPG.com:

What's the design philosophy behind the very lightweight mice that Razer produces as opposed to the weightier competition?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

We believe that weight is a part of the overall solution for the "right mouse for the right hand". Our initial mice were designed for the fast-twitch high-sens (sensitivity) players - i.e. Quake, UT, etc. and they were meant to play fast and light ... more of a fingertip grip and wrist movement. More recently, the DeathAdder was designed more for low-sens players, like those that play CS, and therefore it is considerably heavier than say the Copperhead. We believe that the weight of the mouse is more of a function of the genre and playing style and will vary based on the user's playing style and human factor needs.


MMORPG.com:

The Diamondback and the Copperhead were ambidexterous mice. Why is the DeathAdder right-handed? Robert - you're a leftie. What gives?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

Yes, a lefty who over the years was forced to convert to playing with my (dreaded) right-hand. Again, our focus today is the "right mouse for the right hand" and we do not believe that you can satisfy the needs of every gamer with one form or design. Each game genre has its unique needs and demands. The DeathAdder was intentionally designed for low-sens players and while the internal engineering is quite capable of supporting any fast-twitch game, the industrial design was created to aid the longer, faster stroke and lift-off movement that so many low-sens players favor and use. We can't commit to anything, but based on the early success of the DeathAdder we are considering a limited edition left-handed version down the road.

MMORPG.com:

A company like Razer needs to anticipate the needs of the next generation of gamers and supply that need. Did you anticipate the explosion of MMORPG games in the US and European market? Do you have products tailored specifically for MMORPG players?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

Yes, we do. The Tarantula and the Copperhead are both products that have been well-liked and have been useful to MMORPG gamers. We're constantly watching all of the genres that pique the hardcore gamer's interests, but unfortunately I can't comment any further than that.

MMORPG.com:

What would you recommend as the ultimate Razer Hardware suite for MMORPG gamers?

Robert "Razerguy" Krakoff:

Today, I would start with the Copperhead mouse due to its advanced programmability and the Tarantula keyboard for its macro capability. I would also recommend the Barracuda HP-1 headset for team and raid communications and the Razer eXactMat mousing surface (smooth side) for comfort and mouse control. All I can add is to ask me this same question later this year, and I might have some new additions to this list...

Well, we will certainly keep in touch with Razer to bring to our readers here at MMORPG.com the latest in new product offerings.

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for MMORPG.com since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.