We speak to Razer CEO Min-liang Tan about his company's investment in the fighting game community with the Atrox arcade stick
Razer is no stranger to eSports, having invested heavily in games as diverse as Counter Strike, League of Legends and StarCraft II, but it’s latest venture is something of a test – the Atrox arcade stick, which was released in the US this month, is the company’s first real push into the world of fighting games. We sat down with CEO Min-Liang Tan to discuss what it means for Razer to be involved with the scene.
Tan openly admits that the fighting game community is “a much smaller scene than eSports as we know it today”, but that it’s “important to get involved and help it to grow”.
“It reminds me a lot of the early days of Quake – everyone seems to know each other, and everyone has a voice.” That communication was critical to the development of the Atrox, which went through numerous beta stages to reach the final product.
“Each beta unit cost us $2000 to produce,” Tan laughingly told us, “I don’t know as we’ll ever make any money from it, but that wasn’t the point – it was always a big experiment for us.”
Indeed, the stick has changed a lot since we saw it back in May – the somewhat loose USB cable has been switched to a proprietary connector that’s unlikely to pop out, the artwork has been updated and the flimsy opening mechanism has been reinforced. It feels weightier too, although the rubber underside still locks it in place during gameplay.
The changes made to final product based on fan feedback, mostly from big names in the Fighting Game community, were so numerous that Tan has lost count. “From the start, we were being told to make it heavier, make it easier to customise.” One of the key features of the Atrox is the quick-release switch which gives users instant access to the internal components, a unique design that separates it from other arcade sticks on the market. “We swapped the arm mechanism until it would easily open with one hand – it was great working with the fighting he community to fine-tune the design.”
Tan himself grew up playing Street Fighter II, and is no stranger to arcades. “I played a LOT of Super Turbo back in the day. I wasn’t really a fan of Street Fighter 3, but loved IV.” It’s his passion for games that led to the production of the Atrox, as well as his company’s investment in the fighting game scene.
Currently, the majority of players use Mad Catz arcade sticks, but the ease of customisation, superb build quality and attention to detail of the Atrox already make it stand out from the crowd. With a few tournament wins under its belt, it could only get more popular.
The Atrox is available to buy now from the Official Razer store – expect to pay £179.99 if you want to bag one.