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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  • Matt355 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    I hear you, I have a full size ATX case but have started buying Micro ATX Motherboards to avoid junk I don't want. If your running a SSD and a 3TB drive drive as a gamer your not looking for 10 SATA ports, your not running your video card off PCI slot or your hard drives off IDE. you probably don't even need an optical drive so why would you want a Floppy drive.
  • fausto412 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    I met the guy last year at an event, he was there to support ASRock. To start off a review of a product by being a hater is just sad. I have own Fatal!ty branded sound cards and Headsets. Never once did it bother me. Fatal!ty was the guy living the dream, no different than playing still wish you was MJ for just a second. Don't hate congratulate!
  • madmanjasper - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    In fairness he seemed to be using his experience to draw a comparison between marketing in different regions. Not blind hate.
  • shin0bi272 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    he's living the dream of dropping out of college and living in his parents basement and being one of the only people to win prize money while they were still paying people to compete. When they tried to make competitive video game playing a "sport" no one wanted to watch and it floundered.

    Please also note all the games he played (after practicing 8-12hrs a day mind you) had no recoil in the weapons. Games like pain killer and UT3 which are fun but have relatively low skill involved in racking up kills... you just spray and pray... and for a short time in the early to mid 2000's youd get paid.

    Now he spends his entire day running around getting companies to put his face on their hardware and add useless features (anyone remember the 64mb of audio ram on his version of the first x-fi?) to them and jack up the price so he can make millions. And you compare him to MJ? Not to mention the horrible use of the english language in doing so. A kid who sits on their butt playing video games is not an athlete they are an occupy wall street member.
  • atticus14 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    lol @ games that lack recoil involve less skill

    so i suppose you would be a complete boss at a game like Q3 then since its so easy with no recoil. I guess you fail to realize that games like UT and Q3 faded from the spotlight because they were too damn hard for the majority of people as veterans constantly wiped the floor with them as noobs barely managed to put a point on the bored if not go into the negatives (UT was not AS harsh but you failed to mention Q3 which made Fat's name). They made it a hair easier with Quake Live's matchmaking but being "too hard" is still the reason why it has a small community; feel free to try, just dont get over confident in the noob tier
  • Lord 666 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    Just like the Fatl1ty name was an albatross for Abit, ASRock has lost touch its roots and more importantly relevant features.
  • shin0bi272 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 - link

    When are people going to stop giving this dbag money to put his ugly face and retarded gamer tag on their hardware? No one gives a damn about this guy and yet people keep paying him to put his name on their stuff and overcharging us for it.
  • kevith - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Not his biggest fan, are you?
  • prophet001 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    ^^ Creepers gonna creep
  • jabber - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    ....was take a full featured ATX board and then they put a custom heatsink on it and some custom decals.

    Job done.

    Should have taken maybe two weeks to sort out. No real product plans went into this product.

    What's the non Wendelised SKU for this board?

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