Marketing is a very powerful tool.  A successful marketing campaign or product segmentation can increase sales more than ten-fold.  It is not something we hear or talk about much in the motherboard arena – while a manufacturer will try and promote all the features they have on a product, advertising is usually limited to web advertisements, gaming shows, or an attempt to get as many positive reviews in the media as possible.  But certain manufacturers do enjoy branding their products – Republic of Gamers, Sniper, Big Bang, and Fatal1ty.  Today we are looking at just that – a Fatal1ty branded product, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional.

The Fatal1ty Branding

I will cut straight to the heart of the branding.  Jonathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel is a professional gamer, considered the first true professional gamer notching up near US$500,000 in prize money and twelve world titles in First Person Shooter games.  He has been featured in several mainstream magazines and media outlets for these achievements.

Since 2007, he has toned down his active competing, focusing more on selling himself as a brand, on anything gaming related from (and I quote) “motherboards, energy snacks, sound cards, gaming desks, computer mice, headphones, and power supplies bearing his moniker”.  One could hardly criticize him on this as he is capitalizing on a dream that many gamers have – to turn professional and make it a true money earner.

The issue comes from the direction of the marketing.  I should note that this paragraph is a personal ditty rather than views of AnandTech.  As an ex-clan gamer several years ago, I wanted to be better than others on my own steam – people like Fatal1ty seemed very smug to get to where they were and the mindset was to be the best by beating everyone, not by helping them in their career by investing in their products.  This attitude, in my opinion, is copied over most of my local circle of fellow gamers, especially those in the western hemisphere.  As a gamer, being reminded every time I start my computer of ‘the ultimate challenge’ is not a road I wanted to walk down, so you would buy a product which did not remind you of any gamer who had ‘made’ it.

Nevertheless, I did discuss this mentality with some regular and senior members at ASRock last year at Computex.  In their view, the Fatal1ty branding had increased sales significantly of their higher end offerings, especially in eastern hemisphere.  This essentially describes a very different mentality from what I perceive – the idolization (or willingness to accept) of professional gamers against the ‘us vs. them’ mentality I have encountered amongst my peers (of whom only one person owns a Fatal1ty product).  In my view, perhaps it might benefit ASRock sales in certain areas of the world to market under a new, non-person specific moniker, such as the ‘ASRock Gaming Series’, and have boards named the ‘Z77 Extreme G6’ or similar.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Overview, Visual Inspection, Board Features
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  • kevith - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Yeah, that struck me as well.
  • scaramoosh - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    I wont buy anything branded by that loser who hasn't really competed since 2005.
  • Iketh - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    someone sounds bitter lol

    haters gonna hate!
  • Friendly0Fire - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't call him a loser, but I too would rather like the Fatal1ty crap toned down a bit. I've never seen him play, I actually don't give a damn about him, so his likeness appearing on products that I otherwise could want to buy feels more like excessive branding than anything else.

    I can see why he's on them, of course: he did a lot of firsts and his nickname is marketable (it's got a bit of a "leetspeak" feel, which apparently appeals to a certain audience, it's "edgy" but still family-friendly, etc.). As much as I respect Starcraft players, I don't think NesTea or Stephano-branded hardware would sound good.
  • Reikon - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    I've always wondered if Fatal1ty branding actually convinced anyone to buy something. It usually just drives me away since it seems more like a branding gimmick for something that can't stand on its own.
  • Camikazi - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    That is like asking if Michael Jordan branded shoes, or Tony Hawk branded skateboard ever prompted someone to buy them. The answer is easy, OF COURSE IT DOES, there are always people who don't know enough about things that go for celeb branded items because the celebs endorsed it. They don't know or care enough to find out that there are cheaper parts that are as good or better out there they just want the name.
  • Matt355 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Thought I was the only one that felt that way.
  • FozzyofAus - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    I also don't see the point of an IDE or Floppy port.

    How about a review of the uATX version of the board? I'm not convinced that many people really need a full ATX board anymore.
  • iamkyle - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    Seriously Jon? You "consultations" with manufacturers lead you to add long gone legacy floppy and IDE?

    Somebody PLEASE make me an enthusiast board with barebones I/O - USB only. Let me choose my NIC & my sound MYSELF. As a TRUE enthusiast would.
  • jabber - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Exactly a real hardcore gamers board would be stripped of everything not required to just get the PC up and running.

    Then you would have a board with the minimum of traces and junk on it for the best performance. No fat at all. Then add just the hardware you need and nothing else.

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