Written off year after year, the PC Gaming market is actually starting to pick up some steam this year. You only have to look at this year’s E3 to see that PC Gaming is on the rebound. With titles like Battlefield 2142, Crysis, Quake Wars, Spore, and Supreme Commander and Microsoft refocusing their Gaming for Windows effort things are starting to look up.
In order to play these games you have to have a decent gaming rig in order to push every pixel and trick out every triangle and that’s where the specialty PC Gaming companies come into play. One of the up and comers in that market is Velocity Micro and we recently had the chance to talk to Randy Copeland the CEO of Velocity Micro about the origins of the company, what he thinks of the marketplace, and where he things the PC Gaming market is going. Here’s the transcript of that interview.
GamingNexus: Velocity started out building high end PC's for CAD applications, why did you expand into the gaming market? Simple, I started a business in the kitchen cabinet design business back in the early nineties, selling kitchen cabinets to distributors, dealers, and wholesalers and back in the early nineties there were a lot of people still using pencil and paper to draw kitchens out and using a typewriter to do the quote and the billing. So as a means of being more productive and selling more kitchen cabinets I started offering PC’s and showing people what Quickbooks and what a kitchen CAD program could do. It was something that I enjoyed doing and it was kind of an excuse I could tell my wife that I needed to build these computers because I’m selling cabinets and it is part of my job. Everybody I know who’s built PC’s knows how much fun it is to build them and it was a great way to get into it. As time went on so many of the things that went into performance tuning a PC for CAD are exactly the same for gaming.
I was playing one of the Need for Speed games back in the day and a home theatre store in Richmond, Virginia asked me to build a PC that they could use to hook up to a 96” high resolution projection screen and really crank up the video quality and create and immersive experience, particularly with Need for Speed, so you could sit there in a chair and have this huge screen in front of you. And it just became something that I enjoyed doing. And having it on such a beautiful display gave me more reason to really push the graphics So I can began to playing more with overclocking the video and because it was something that I really enjoyed doing, just trying to squeeze that last little bit of performance out.
GamingNexus: I remember having to tweak all the setting to get Wing Commander IV, having to play around with the config.sys and autoexec.bat files to get that last bit of performance out of the system.Back then I was also overclocking the processor and running a program to help cool the CPU and running the tool to help keep the CPU cool because Windows 98 wouldn’t issue the stop function for the CPU. So I was able to overclock the CPU dramatically along with the video. This was back in the voodoo days when we were running the first generation of SLI. It just became something where I wanted to see what I could do. As an enthusiast I was always reading Maximum PC and Boot and all the gaming magazines and I wanted to see what I could do compared to those guys. As I started adding employees to build the CAD workstations, guess what they were doing at lunch?
GamingNexus: Playing Games?They were gaming. Those guys, my system builders, were into it and it became a natural progression. The first magazine we were able to get a review in was Maximum PC, which was in 2001. They were looking for an all around PC but it had to be strong in Gaming. I guess the long winded answer is that we got into it because it was something that people like to write about. But as a gamer it was something that I got a lot of personal pleasure out of tuning and tweaking the units.
GamingNexus: Which product line drives the majority of your business (gaming, home theatre, corporate)?
We kind of segment our customers and we have different people who manage our PC Gaming platforms, our home and office PC platforms, and somebody who manages our workstations and server platforms. Each of those guys really tailors the same general core components and tailors it more to the user need of that customer. Every one of those is a profit center for us, and each of them is important to us because we think the value we add in service, support, quality components, and experience transfers between all of them. We get the most traction and the most press coverage for our gaming systems because there are more people writing about gaming systems than there are people writing about $999 systems or CAD workstations.
We do more gaming systems than anything. We’ll talk about Best Buy in a minute but they certainly skew that line a bit as everything well they buy from us is gaming oriented. We still do a tremendous workstation business. PC Magazine also picked us as the best mainstream PC of the year a couple of years ago for a $999 PC. So we are actually really strong in the mainstream industry. If you can call $999 a mainstream PC, I think it is the high end of the entry level PC business.
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