Taking gaming to the Xtreme: ADATA’s Dave Taylor talks XPG laptops, esports and more

Established by memory and storage manufacturer ADATA Technology in 2008, XPG is a brand that has been steadily growing in the gaming sector. Making an impact in the UK market over the past few years with its range of high-performance memory and SSD products aimed at gamers, esports pros, and tech enthusiasts, the brand has now made its first foray into the laptop arena with the XPG XENIA – a 15.6-inch notebook developed in collaboration with Intel, which sports an Intel Core i7 processor, a choice of NVIDIA GeForce RTX or GTX GPUs, as well as XPG’s own SSD and memory.

PCR caught up with Dave Taylor, ADATA’s regional sales manager – who would like us to point out that his headshot is in “full lockdown mode” and does not represent his professional persona 100% – to chat about the importance of working with the esports market, his views on future innovation in the gaming hardware space, and how the company works with the channel.

ADATA is involved in quite a few different areas of the tech industry. Can you talk us through some of the main areas you cover as a company as well as within your role?

I Joined ADATA in the summer of 2016, as country manager for the UK and Ireland. At the time, the brand had been seen as tier 3 in memory and storage, but it was very clear that given the right focus and channel management, aligned with the quality and performance of the products, that we should be able to elevate and change the brand perception and move it to what we call “best bang for your buck”.

The products regularly score high on testing and benchmarking, and given a stripped back UK cost centre, we can now aim a focused product range to not only the cost conscious consumer, but be able to offer a product that stacks up well against some of the more established market leading brands.

My role encompasses nearly all facets of the UK starting with channel management and customer line up. I also oversee marketing, PR and social media, as well as organising campaigns to our reseller base and overseeing customer queries and RMA.

As well as working on new solutions with customers outside the regular channel. I must, at this point, mention that in 2018 we did add another channel veteran, David Wright to work alongside me in the channel, and with him comes a wealth of knowledge as well as a great understanding of our customer base.

We’ve heard a lot about the XPG gaming brand on PCR over the past few years, especially with working more with esports brands. Can you tell us a bit about who you’re working with in this space?

Personally, I think that working with esports teams and the broader community is essential in trying to grow a brand from a standing start. Many other brands in the same area are a great pointer to the success and reach that can be gained in this way.

At the moment, we sponsor Vexed gaming, based in the UK, and we have also worked with a few other teams in the past. We treat these relationships as a two way partnership, we not only supply funding to help the teams compete and survive, but we’re supporting other functions such as free or discounted product, promotion of team or players through social media channels, and giveaways and charities that are working in the gaming community. In addition, we have supported our channel partners and other brands in events or activations – from small retailers that want to have a gaming day in store, to large scale events such as Insomnia and EGX and most of the space in between.

How important do you think it’s going to be for gaming brands to align themselves with esports teams and events in the future?

I was lucky enough, at the start of establishing XPG in the UK, to be able to listen and learn from some of the most respected people that live and breathe gaming 24/7. One of the key pieces of information I use on a daily basis, is that esports should be treated no differently to traditional sports. As such if you really wish to penetrate the player, supporters and the next generation marketplace, keep your brand in focus of the community you are trying to engage in.

Therefore, it is important to forge long lasting alliances on a local level. Events, teams or charities we have supported in year one, we choose to still support now. No matter the number of viewership or click through that most other brands will monitor success rates by. To phrase it in football terms – you just never know when you might unearth the next Andy Robertson!

XPG recently revealed its first ever gaming laptop. Can you tell us about these new products and who they are aimed at?

In the past three years the XPG product range has grown from roughly seven SKUs in just SSD and DRAM to currently over 35 product lines. XPG now encompasses cases, cooling, PSU and peripherals in addition to our DRAM and SSD. As you mentioned, we just launched a very high end gaming laptop in partnership with Intel. Our goal was to showcase the best components we can squeeze inside.

It will be followed up by other models in the laptop market, as well as a small form factor PC that will allow upgrades to GPU memory and storage. Allowing the end user to keep abreast of all future hardware upgrades. I am sure we are no different to any other brand, in that we want to offer our customers a selection of products that match their requirements and hopefully gives them the best possible user experience.

XPG’s new XENIA laptop is a 15.6-inch notebook, developed in collaboration with Intel and sporting an Intel Core i7 processor, a choice of NVIDIA GeForce RTX or GTX GPUs, as well as XPG’s own SSD and memory

What innovation do you expect, or hope, to see in the gaming hardware space in the near future?

XPG works very closely with many industry leading brands such as Intel and AMD, as well as motherboard vendors and system builders. With these important alliances, we will always be working on the next generation. I expect, in the next year, to see a growth in Gen 4 NVMe storage and DDR5 as a memory option. As the CPU manufacturers push the speed of their product, so will the consumer demand for other components to match and utilise these speeds.

I also expect that with the roll out of 5G, and the already blistering speeds of broadband, we will see a shift to mobile gaming. My personal view is that gaming will not be just events, tournaments and gamers stuck away in bedrooms. We will see that gaming on various platforms will move to the main area of the household, where it will be integrated into the other aspects of our social time. Things such as communication, streaming etc. Just like the simple TV took over that corner of your living room and, as such, aesthetics and size will be a driving factor.

ADATA and the XPG brand have been present at many tech and gaming expos over the years. How important is it to let people get hands-on with your gear?

This has always been very important for a lesser known brand such as XPG. Not only does it allow us a direct communication with the end user, but we get a general overview on the market. Talking to customers from SI, retail and the wider gaming community, we can then look at next products and feed back to our product development team.

How is the recent spate of event cancellations due to COVID-19 affecting your marketing and channel plans?

The current events are something that no one can prepare for, but as a global brand we can discuss with other countries, and look at how we can change and adjust to make sure we still work in an effective and meaningful manner. Currently only 30% of our market is open in the UK, and although we are supporting these customers with offers and marketing to drive sales; we are also acting responsibly in stock management in these uncertain times.

With regards to events, although we would love to be at events meeting people, this is not possible. As such we have implemented more giveaways, and increased social media presence, in order to keep XPG at the heart of our community. Thus you saw in April the first time we did a live product launch via YouTube.

How important is working with the UK retail channel and what support do you offer?

The UK retail and SI accounts for over 75% of our XPG sales. So they are more than important, and although we don’t work with high street retail, the etailers and independent retail space have always been an important factor in the growth of XPG.

We have year-on-year growth of triple digits for the past three years, this has been done working closely with this channel. In terms of support, we offer samples for demo areas, banners and shop displays as well as XPG branded merchandise to bundle with sales of XPG products. We welcome all retail to approach us, or our appointed distributors, and we can look at supporting them. I’m sure that these discussions are a two way understanding on how to maximise benefits to both companies.

What plans does ADATA have for the rest of the year and beyond? Any new product lines you can tell us anything about?

XPG stands for Xtreme Performance Gear and, as such, we will always be pushing to exceed the expectations of the gaming community. All I can say is, we already offer xtreme components inside the case – and now offer you some Xtreme cases and peripherals. Maybe it’s time we looked at enhancing the performance of how you view the game.

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