Joe Olmsted, Director of Alienware and Dell Gaming Products, has been coming to Melbourne for PAX since its inception and he was clearly enthusiastic to be here again. When asked why he comes to PAX AUS and not to other events, he mentioned that the locals were so inviting and happy to have the Alienware team in our city. We were lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with Joe to discuss a range of topics including mobile gaming, the effects Dell has had on Alienware and the future of gaming.
Hooked Gamers: How has the rise of portable and mobile gaming affected sales? Has it made it a tougher market now that more people are gaming on their mobile devices?
Joe Olmsted: It has actually done the opposite. Mobile gaming has had a positive effect on sales. Now that just about everyone is a gamer in some form, gaming is considered more mainstream. Even mums, who wouldn’t really consider themselves gamers play games such as Words with Friends. And being more mainstream, this leads to more people gaming and wanting quality gaming hardware.
HG: How has the increase in popularity of games such as Overwatch and Fortnite affected the gaming scene?
JO: Gamers once had the reputation of being loners that lived in their parents’ basements, but that is no longer the case, as games such as those you mentioned have provided teaming events that bring everyone together in a more social atmosphere.
HG: How has the purchase of the Alienware brand by Dell affected the control that you have in design and implementation? Has Dell’s buying power improved the cost of producing the products?
JO: Yes, having Dell on board has been great. Their engineers are quite strict when it comes to every facet of the design. Even down to the space underneath the keys, so that if you spill your drink it won’t have a disastrous effect. They do give us our own freedom, and the acquisition has forced us to improve our quality and reliability while helping to keep prices down.
HG: Alienware is a name that is synonymous with gaming, but there seems to be increased competition, especially in the gaming laptop market, from other PC makers. Has this forced Alienware to be more innovative?
JO: We acknowledge that there are companies that sell cheaper models and there was a stage when we had to decide whether to also compete on price and reduce our core values.It was during this phase when we decided we didn’t want to sacrifice the price point for quality and reliability. We are gamers ourselves and design our products accordingly. Everything down to the placement of the ports is important to us, as we are sure it is to the gamers who purchase our hardware. And we continue to invest in better components that will improve performance for gamers.
HG: Most gamers are probably more interested in what is inside the machines, but how important is the distinctive Alienware styling when designing new hardware?
JO: It is of the utmost importance. There are four ideals we are guided by with every piece of hardware we design – performance, quality, innovation and iconic design. As you mentioned, Alienware is synonymous with gaming, and when you open up an Alienware laptop, you want people to know immediately that it is an Alienware product and a sign of quality.
HG: VR has probably been the most recent change to gaming. What do you see as the next step in gaming?
JO: I can see increased realism with the graphics. Some of the graphics look realistic now, but with the next level of shaders and sculpting, the visuals will be ultra-realistic, especially within the VR environment.
Joe was insightful throughout the conversation, and we hope we get the chance to chat with him again at next year’s PAX AUS. Shortly after, we got the chance to have a quick look at the new m15 gaming laptop. The Alienware m15 contains some great specs in the light frame, with 8th generation Intel Core i7 processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 OC and 1070 Max-Q graphics cards capable of VR. Of course, it comes with all the usual bells and whistles associated with Alienware, including the Alienware Command Center technology with AlienFX customisable RGB-lighting across six unique zones, Alienware Cryo-Tech 2.0 for superior thermal management and, while on idle, up to a maximum of 17 hours of battery life with the optional 90Whr battery. It’s a lean and efficient gaming machine complete with a numeric keypad. Hopefully we'll get to put one through its paces at a later date.