At CES 2019, amidst the tech- and hype-fueled mayhem around the Las Vegas Strip, I took up an invitation to meet with the Anaheim, California-based up-and-coming accessories company, Mobile Edge, that’s been steadily building a name for itself.
Following our conversation in that (blessedly) quiet suite with wall-to-wall accessories, touching on esports, gamer culture, events and more, Events for Gamers whipped up a Q&A with Mobile Edge’s VP of Marketing, Paul June. He shares a few insights on the growth of influencers and competitive gaming — and where he sees the Mobile Edge brand fitting in.
Events for Gamers (E4G): We’d love to start off with a look at Mobile Edge and, especially, what the company offers for gamers?
Paul June: Mobile Edge has been at the forefront of producing products used by the gaming industry for more than 15 years. We work with Alienware and Razer to produce a wide range of gaming bags, backpacks, and accessories, including apparel for Alienware. And in 2017, we worked specifically with gamers to design and manufacture our own line of Core gaming products, which features the twice MVP award-winning Core Gaming Backpack, plus mobile power accessories and mouse pads.
E4G: What was the reason behind creating a Kickstarter campaign for your CES 2019 centerpiece, the CORE gaming backpack? How did that crowdfunding campaign go?
Paul: Our reasons for utilizing a Kickstarter campaign to introduce the Core Gaming Backpack to the market were numerous. We had worked for months with gamers to develop a prototype, so we wanted to validate the marketplace. Was the CORE Gaming Backpack something people really wanted? Would they buy it, use it, or at least check it out? We also wanted to open a new channel for early adopters and reward those people willing to partner with us in the development phase with some cool gear.
In addition, our own industry research and customer feedback—remember we’ve been doing gaming gear for 15+ years—showed that the marketplace was eager for this kind of offering. We were also looking for a springboard event for the new Core product line that would lead both into the 2017 holiday season (the Kickstarter ran from August to September 2017) and into the following year.
As for how the campaign went, you know you’re successful when you ask yourself “Given what I know now, would I do it all again?” and the answer is a resounding “YES!” Not only did the Kickstarter campaign generate the funding we targeted to launch the new product line, but it also helped us make many important new connections with people in the gaming industry, including gamers, esports teams, fans, and various gaming and esports organizations.
E4G: Besides your own products, which other gaming brands do you work with in terms of products you put out there for them in the marketplace?
Paul: We’ve been working with Alienware and Razer for 15 years (and counting) to produce a variety of gaming bags, backpacks, and accessories, including apparel for Alienware. Our Alienware cases and apparel are always among the favorites for gamers, especially when imprinted with the iconic Alienware logo, and the Razer Tactical Gaming Backpack is always popular.
E4G: What were your goals in attending a massive show like CES 2019? Do you feel you hit the bullseye of what you wanted to accomplish at a show as sprawling and busy as that one?
Paul: Relationships are always critical to the success of any company, and I’ve always found the best way to cement those relationships is to connect face-to-face. So as big as it is, there’s no place on Earth like CES where you can get such an amazing mix of innovators, buyers, distributors, sales reps, and media together in one place to show off and preview some cool tech while also developing and managing all-important relationships. In that regard, CES 2019 was a tremendous success for us and I suspect for many others. I can’t wait until CES 2020!
E4G: How does Mobile Edge work with influencers, streamers, and in esports? What are Mobile Edge’s plans for the future for these pathways to reach gamers?
Paul: The key to our success has been to utilize a wide range of channels to connect us with various stakeholders in the gaming industry. We leverage social media, public relations, strategic partnerships, sponsorships, and influencers to grow and nurture our brand “evangelists” and drive awareness and education about Core Gaming products and Mobile Edge—and it something we see ourselves continuing, and likely expanding, in the future. As you may know, the global audience for esports, including gamers and fans, was expected to reach 380 million people in 2018, and the annual revenue for esports is projected to be $1.5 billion by 2020. Clearly, esports and gaming is a big deal, and it’s only going to continue to grow.
As a leading manufacturer and producer of products used by the gaming industry, it certainly makes sense for us to remain active in this space. (W)e currently have a variety of team and sponsorship initiative in the works. From working with independent teams directly like Hush Mode Gaming and RoadHog Racing to developing college programs with the likes of Georgia Southern, teams, influencers programs, schools, bloggers, social Media, PR, and more fall directly into our “Word on the Street” campaign. It helps not only make people aware of Mobile Edge, but connects us directly to our esports community.
E4G: With so many unboxing videos, products in front of livestreams, brands worn on or used by big-name gamers at tournaments, and so on, is it tough to get products, such as a backpack, in front of a lot of eyes?
Paul: Yes, as the marketplace has gotten bigger, it’s also gotten much more crowded and more difficult to distinguish yourself from others. Simply said, our overall game better be tight!
In addition to all the outreach we conduct through various online and traditional marketing channels, we also pride ourselves on listening to and understanding our audience, their needs, and what they want. So not only do we engage gamers to help us prototype products like the CORE Gaming Backpack or use a Kickstarter campaign to launch a new product line or offer what we (and our satisfied customers) firmly believe are superior products, we also offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee that’s tops in the industry. It’s the kind of thing that sets us apart, plus it’s the right thing to do!
E4G: Lastly, what might gamers have to look forward to from Mobile Edge over 2019? At which gaming events might your products be found this year?
Paul: I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but our plan is pretty fluid at the moment. Suffice to say, there’s potential for big things ahead. Hope to see you at E3!