EVGA is best known for high quality PC peripherals, specifically, video cards and motherboards. Having provided top quality products since 2001, EVGA has quickly become a leader in the industry thanks to quality products, industry leading bundles and alliances with other industry leaders like NVIDIA. We met up with EVGA Product Manager Jacob Freeman who discussed a wide variety of topics about EVGA, including their industry alliances as well as what lessons they’ve learned in 2012.
Gaming Illustrated: EVGA is touted as the #1 NVIDIA partner in the world. In the past few years, what has some of the most important contributing factors for EVGA to take such a standing in the marketplace?
Gaming Illustrated: Back in the day, EVGA was mainly known among gamers for high quality video cards, but now you’re known for quality power supplies and motherboards. What did you learn from the success you found with video cards that you applied to other segments of EVGA products?
Freeman: I would say that the #1 item here would again be listening to the community, and taking their feedback to design and shape our products. EVGA power supplies is a new product line for EVGA in the marketplace, but not a new product for EVGA, in fact we have been working on a power supply line for several years, with different versions and iterations. It was not until very recently that we felt we had a great product to put on the market.
Gaming Illustrated: EVGA clearly targets gamers as one of (if not the top) demographics for its products. From that, we’re guessing there’s a gamer culture within the walls of EVGA’s USA headquarters? Is it important to find new employees that understanding gaming?
Freeman: Being a gamer isn’t necessarily a requirement to work at EVGA, but it certainly helps in most departments! The truth is a large number of EVGA employees are in fact gamers, some more hardcore than others.
Gaming Illustrated: Expanding on the last question, what games are hot these days during after-hour gaming sessions at the office?
Freeman: Certainly Battlefield 3 was a big title for quite some time, but some of the other popular titles with employees here; League of Legends, Diablo III, Call of Duty BO2 to name a few.
Gaming Illustrated: Typically EVGA is pretty awesome about getting a gamer a top-quality AAA title to go along with a purchased video card. Right now we see deals for Assassin’s Creed 3 as well as Borderlands 2. Since we don’t see those same deals with your competitors, how does EVGA make such an advantage exist?
Freeman: It depends on the title, for Assassin’s Creed 3 and Borderlands 2, NVIDIA helped to arrange the bundle here. For other game titles (especially indie games) we have a pretty good relationship with some of the guys there. Working with Indie devs is great because typically they are really passionate about the games they are making, and generally are only looking for some hardware to make their game take advantage of the latest GPU technologies, we try to help out as much as we can here.
Gaming Illustrated: Going one step further, how does EVGA strategize which major titles to co-brand their video cards with? Certainly, there’s some risk if the game is a bust with consumers that it might hurt the card’s brand image?
Freeman: We try to align with games that we think can use the card’s technology to its full extent. Borderlands 2 and Assassins Creed III are great titles here with Borderlands 2 making great use of NVIDIA PhysX technology and AC3 using DX11 and TXAA effects.
Gaming Illustrated: While video card selection is pretty defined for gamers who know what to get and what their money can buy them, the motherboard market’s lines are a little more grey. What are some sanity checks you’d like to give gamers shopping for a motherboard that they may not be aware of when trying to figure out which board to buy?
Freeman: For motherboard products, understanding your CPU socket (or pin count) is more important than ever as we have several different flavors on the market today. Socket 2011, 1155 and 1156 socket to name a few. The CPUs for each of these sockets is not cross compatible so it is important to understand what socket type you need. Secondly, the type of user also greatly defines what motherboard is necessary. A gamer and an overclocker (although some people think they are the same), are actually entirely two different types of users, we try to develop products that appeal to both audiences.
Gaming Illustrated: Could you speak to EVGA’s quality assurance and what you and your team does to stand behind your products?
Freeman: Certainly EVGA spends a big effort on quality control. It is pretty common knowledge that most products are not created in the local country that it is selling in, but few companies spend the time to actually double check the product once it arrives at their local office. EVGA products have a two step QA procedure, product is initially tested and checked at the factory, then once again once it arrives in USA, Europe, etc.
Gaming Illustrated: There’s a pretty active community on your forums, how does engaging your community so closely help EVGA’s brand, outside of “hey guys we just released ‘X’ new product!” announcements?
Freeman: Having a community is extremely important today. In addition to forums, we are also on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. We really try to encourage the community to be helpful here, but we also encourage employees to participate. Too many companies have an entire dedicated team for Social Networking, which sounds great, but in actuality there is usually a disconnect from the Social Network team, to the team that can make policy and/or product changes. At EVGA we have Product Managers, Marketing Directors, Sales and the EVGA CEO to keep an eye on feedback, and try to implement any changes that we can.
Gaming Illustrated: Since 2012 is winding down we can look back at the year. How would you categorize EVGA’s 2012 and what’s been the most important thing learned this year?
Freeman: I think that 2012 taught us that despite the changing landscape in PC, the need for high end graphics cards are still very strong. We are also seeing an increase in free to play games, which also creates more demand for graphics cards, as well as make the PC platform an enticing platform for developers to create games on. The next few years should be pretty exciting for PC gaming.
Gaming Illustrated: Certainly you can’t spill the beans on 2013 product just yet, but can you whet our appetites with a little teaser what to expect?
Freeman: Nothing specific, but just expect to see more great stuff from EVGA
Gaming Illustrated: Finally, you have a lot of loyal customers that follow you and are reading this. What one message from EVGA do you hope they know?
Freeman: Firstly we want to thank our loyal customers for the years of support, and for offering their feedback! Certainly without the voice of the community, the EVGA you know and love would not be the same without them.
Special thanks go out to Jacob Freeman and the EVGA team for their time with this interview!