In March 2017, after years of poor decisions and layoffs, peripherals and accessories company Mad Catz finally went into bankruptcy. But the hardware firm didn't stay dead for long, announcing its return in January. Now owned and operated by people involved in the factories that made the outfit's tech back in the way, this new Mad Catz has a focus on PC goods.
We caught up with director of sales and operations Selena Chang to find out what we can expect this time around
Why bring back Mad Catz?
Every gamer has a personal opinion of Mad Catz, but every gamer knows who Mad Catz is. The brand is an intrinsic part of the gaming landscape and has been around for decades. On a global level, the brand still resonates with gamers and is much loved by a great number of those who love gaming and technology. Retail is extremely enthusiastic as well, as Mad Catz hardware has been historically popular in many regions worldwide. We feel the best days for the brand lie ahead and we can’t wait to grow the brand.
Who is behind this new Mad Catz?
In short, the new Mad Catz is being run by a dedicated and committed group of enthusiasts, all of whom have a history with top gaming gear brands and manufacturers. Gamers can rest assured that the brand is in excellent hands as many of us have a history with Mad Catz products, working in Asia on many of the past products in the range, on a design and manufacturing level. We understand the challenges ahead and are committed to elevating the brand as we move forward. We have a new chief technology advisor in the form of Mr. Arnie Grever who has worked with many triple-A hardware brands in the past and is assisting us with our technology roadmap going forward.
What Mad Catz assets and IP do you now own?
We acquired the full Mad Catz IP assets and will be making further announcements regarding brands and additional product ranges in due course.
What’s the positioning for Mad Catz this time around? Back in the day, the firm was known for cheap but good accessories. Then it tried to go up-market. Where do you see yourself in the market now?
A great question. As I said above, everyone is entitled to their opinion on Mad Catz, and many of those opinions hark back to the days when Mad Catz was chiefly a commodity brand. The modern Mad Catz, however, was responsible for products like the RAT mouse range, FightSticks and products of quality and innovation. We certainly plan to continue this trend. We have no interest in releasing commodity hardware which would bring the brand into disrepute. That said, we also recognise that along the way, Mad Catz made some product that didn’t find an audience, and which were priced at a premium that made little sense for the audience. We have a lesson to learn there and recognize the need to not compromise on quality but ensure we do all we can to make our Mad Catz range affordable and excellent value to the gamer.
What’s the focus for this new Mad Catz? The teaser video released in December focused heavily on accessories, and there wasn’t a Rock Band controller in sight...
Well spotted. Well, we have no immediate plans to release Rock Band product, and you saw in our announcement trailers that PC is the focus for us for the time being. We chose PC as our first step in re-launching the brand as this is an area where we see a lot of untapped potential, continued growth, and where Mad Catz has previously enjoyed considerable success. We have a three-year product roadmap for the company which will include plenty of surprises and possibly categories where you hadn’t expected Mad Catz to move into. We have high ambitions for the brand and look forward to delighting and surprising over the next three years.
What would you say the biggest mistake made by the former Mad Catz was?
Every company makes mistakes, it’s how we move forward that matters. Mad Catz at its peak enjoyed considerable success and was an extremely successful company, but some of the areas where the company decided to focus on such as mobile hardware, and software development did not resonate with gamers. I feel they somehow lost touch with their core base of fans and I also feel we now have the correct management team to see the brand succeed on a global level.
What lessons have you taken away from Mad Catz’s previous life?
Don’t spread yourself too thin - that's one reason, in fact, why we’re focusing on PC before moving into adjacent categories. Gaming moves at an extremely fast pace and it’s imperative that products are delivered in a timely fashion and make it to market on time. Previously Mad Catz shipped several key products later than I think they would have liked, and this allows competitors to get a foothold in the space. Going forward, we want to focus on our strengths and keep a close eye on the time it takes us to get to market.
Mad Catz has some great heritage and pedigree as a brand, but in more recent years it has become associated with bad financials and layoffs. Why was it important to bring that brand name back, as opposed to - say - buying some IP and assets and launching under a new brand?
As we commented above, those in our industry are well versed on the problems Mad Catz faced in its final years of trading. The downfall of Mad Catz has been well documented, but we should also remember that many, in fact, I would argue the majority, of regular gamers were oblivious to the issues going on behind the scenes. There are many gamers who didn’t even realize the brand ceased trading. They just want to enjoy great hardware, great innovation and to them, Mad Catz is still a respected and disruptive brand. The loyal Mad Catz fan base is simply pleased to see new products being released and the huge level of media coverage we have enjoyed since announcing our comeback, is proof positive that the brand is still a force to be reckoned with!
What PR challenges do you see with relaunching Mad Catz, per the negative press in my last question?
It’s a challenge on many levels to re-launch a brand such as Mad Catz and PR is an important part of the equation, many former Mad Catz customers have already come to us asking about product support relating to the old company for example, so explaining that this is a brand new Mad Catz while maintaining a close link to the product and branding DNA of the past is indeed a challenge. Many gamers are just glad to see the brand back, but for those who have questions, I think it’s important to be clear, open and honest with the customers, acknowledging the past, respecting our fan base but also concentrating on the future and forging our own path on where we see the company developing in the next three years. We’d much rather focus on what’s next rather than what happened in the past.
What’s the ambition for this new Mad Catz?
Mad Catz is firmly back in the game. We want to be a leader in gaming hardware but understand that there’s a lot of work to be done in regaining ground and trust with the gaming community. Right now, we’re concentrating on getting our first range of products to market, beyond that, as mentioned above, we have plans to broaden our reach and grow our range of products in new and unexpected ways. In short: Watch this space.