Alienware is well known in the gaming industry for producing top level computer and laptop systems capable of handling even the most daunting of system specs from today’s games. Part of advancing the Alienware brand name involves building alliances with well known video game developers and publishers. We spoke with Lenard Swain, part of the team that handles this very business function, to find out what Alienware’s strategy is when forging these alliances.
GI: Sean Gibson, gamingillustrated.com and I’m here with Lenard Swain, and Lenard could you introduce yourself in your role with the Alienware team?
Lenard: Yes, I’m Lenard Swain, and I’m the Alienware partner trip management team working with video game developers and publishers to do co-marketing and co-branding between our marketing vehicles.
GI: So I’m seeing some gorgeous laptops playing some games. I saw The Secret World playing on one of the systems. That’s I think the only place at E3 that you could play that game was at the Alienware booth. So it seems like you’ve got some of the inside track here with some of these game publishers?
Lenard: Yeah absolutely. So we’re always looking for great content to show off, you know, the capabilities of Alienware hardware. We partner with great guys from EA, A Perfect World, Sony, Online Entertainment. We really believe in great content to help drive great PC performance.
GI: I’m seeing gorgeous laptops. Everyone loves your laptops and they’re meant for gaming, and they’re just unapologetic for that and I love it, but if you don’t have the software to kind of show off the amazing graphic content you really don’t know what it’s capable of. I mean you’ve got a laptop right here in front of me that it’s SLI based 680s right? If you don’t have that amazing software to show it off with, what’s the point right? (Laughter)
Lenard: (Laughter) Absolutely, yes, absolutely. Yeah, Alienware is always going to be synonymous with premium high-end performance PC gaming. All our systems are going to be best in class in the area they in. So our M14X, our 14-inch, our 17-inch, 18-inch are going to be the most powerful in that segment.
GI: So what are some of the things you’ve been showing the gaming community?
Lenard: Yeah, so some graphic cards options. Our 680 and our 17 and 18-inch, we’re the only ones on the show floor at E3 showing that mobile 680. We also have the 690 that we’re showing in our Aurora Desktop chassis.
GI: What’s been the adoption so far with some of those high-end graphic cards? Are you seeing good sell through with the consumers?
Lenard: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think that it’s going to even go further as we go into the fall and you have a lot of the great AAA titles coming out like Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed 3, we got a Call of Duty, we’ve got the next Medal of Honor coming out, Borderlands 2; I think you’re going to see a lot of people investing in that high-end graphics card because they want to be able to play those games with everything turned on.
GI: Yeah, I don’t want my existing laptop to melt, that would be bad. (Laughter)
Lenard: (Laughter) Yeah, absolutely.
GI: So I guess you guys have to do a lot of planning around some of these big AAA titles don’t you? When these big titles come in you’ve got to expect a spike in sales because gamers are going to have to play them at the top end.
Lenard: Yeah, everybody gets activated within the Alienware offices around AAA titles. Everybody from, you know, our engineers and our QA lab making sure we’ve got the right drivers so when those games come out all of our community is able to play those games as well as our sales team. They’ve got to make sure that they’re in tune with Intel and NVIDIA and AMD to bring the right technology to market in time for those games.
GI: The desktops still are just amazing design and design is something that I wanted to talk to you of because I don’t think Alienware gets enough hub when it comes to design. I think you guys are an industry leader, how do you guys view yourself?
Lenard: Yeah absolutely, so you know what’s great about our Alienware desktops and as well as our notebooks, it’s not only just the amount of engineering that goes into it, the thermal considerations, the ease of use to get inside and upgrade that chassis and mod that chassis if you want from our X51 which is our small form factor to our Aurora.
GI: What are the things that you think we’re going to be seeing with the PC gaming community this year? I mean you talked about AAA titles, but it seems like you guys are focused more on graphics cards upgrades or people focusing on building a new system around that component, not necessarily a processor, but just give me overall, where do you think this industry is going with the PC gaming for this year?
Lenard: You know it started off last year with the revival of, you know, free-to-plays in North America and Europe have really really started to take off, and we’re really starting to see a lot of great AAA type content being in the free-to-play space or I should say probably the micro transaction space, so I think that you’re going to continue to see that being pushed, and it’s going to allow a lot of, you know, independent developers that are doing free-to-play titles to really get that AAA experience and you know Alienware is going to be there to support them.
GI: Can you speak about how you might meet some up and coming companies that have some amazing technologies. How do you identify those companies? How do you bring them in to the Alienware family and partner with them?
Lenard: So a lot of them we meet through shows like E3, PAX Prime, PAX East, GDC. They just come by our booth, they introduce themselves, they sit down, they open up their laptop and, you know, sometimes its an Alienware and sometimes its not, they show us this great game. Everybody at Alienware, we’re gamers at heart so when we see a great game we want to figure out how to partner with them.
GI: So you’re telling me E3 is actually for business, not just showing stuff off? (Laughter)
Lenard: (Laughter) Absolutely.
GI: All right, Lenard, you’ve got a lot of core gamers that just love your product. Any final words for them coming out of this show?
Lenard: You know, if you’re not a member of alienwarearena.com definitely go out there. We do a lot of community support, beta key giveaways and item game giveaways. We don’t talk about our products there you know you can do that at alienware.com. We’re just really there to foster the community and you know, check us out from time to time.
GI: All right, thanks so much for joining us.
Lenard: Yeah no problem.
We’d like to thank Lenard Swain and the entire Alienware team for this interview!