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Mad Catz Company Spotlight and Interview [CES 2012]

A lot of people that read the site might not remember, but one of Shogun Gamer’s land-mark moments occurred about three years ago when we attended our very first CES as official members of the press. It was a fantastic experience that opened our eyes to the world beyond writing our thoughts of the industry as dedicated gamers and enthusiasts. During our time there we got to check out tons of new hot tech, including a mind-numbing amount of headsets (thanks again Corey), and made a lot of great connections with those in the industry. The most notable of which was a company that we’d long-since dismissed and was on the cusp of a major resurgence: Mad Catz.

Now, three years later, announcing their series of co-branded Microsoft Xbox headsets, I found myself getting a little nostalgic at their Hilton Suite just off-site at CES 2012. Three years ago, almost to the day, Corey and I stumbled in to Mad Catz suite on a whim. Corey had no intention of seeing Mad Catz, still upset about the fact that one of their memory cards had lost vital save information at some point in his gaming career, and I was still understandably upset about the quality of a N64 controller I’d gotten on some birthday from unknowing parents who couldn’t tell the difference between a bulky piece of purple plastic and the official Nintendo controllers.

We walked into the suite, taking advantage of their hospitality, with the idea of seeing what nonsense the company was hoping to unleash on unsuspecting gamer-kids via uninformed grandparents for a laugh. We left that year with our opinions changed, permanently, a sign of change that eventually the rest of the world got on board with as well. The key instrument for us: The Fightstick Pro.

One of our favourite people in the industry (yes, industry people play favorites too, don’t get mad because I’ll admit it), Alex Verrey, was still very much just starting, and it was a great time for us to meet. He’d been with the company for about a year, and while they had some other successes to their name in the time he’d been there, the Fightstick Pro would become a major turning point in the company, and our introduction to him (and reintroduction to the company) was through CES and this awesome (now nearly standardized) arcade stick for home consoles.

It left enough of an imprint on us when we left that I felt compelled to write up an opinion piece on the idea that a company most gamers had written off entirely as a pusher of cheap plastic was poised for a major come-back and a complete restructuring of what they did. No longer content with the focus of the company being what’s known as the “commodity market” (that’s cheap accessories to you and I), Mad Catz made a surprising turn, seemingly overnight, towards the concept of premium accessories to the ‘hardcore’ or pro-level gamers.

Since that piece was published Mad Catz has become bigger and better with each passing year. They’ve grown and expanded to cover the PC marketplace with their Cyborg line, dominating in the world of gaming audio through Tritton, and continued to become the biggest name in the fighting-game circuit with their fightsticks and fightpads. The majority of professional-level gamers today in the fighting circuit swear by their Mad Catz controllers, which is mind-blowing to kids of the 90s like me.

This year marked another major landmark for the company in that Tritton is now officially partnering with Microsoft to make co-branded gaming headsets for the Xbox 360. From a company that started out making cheaper options for gaming accessories up to the modern version of a multi-faceted organization single-handedly changing the concept of first-party accessories for the home-console market, our third anniversary seemed like an appropriate time to talk about how Mad Catz rose up in the world of gaming accessories to become the new king, and go-to for professional gamers, of accessories.

Alex Verrey, Global PR & Communications Manager at Mad Catz, was kind enough to take a few minutes out and answer a couple of quick questions about the rise of Mad Catz, its (sorted) history, and the products that he feels made all the difference:

Our thanks to Alex Verrey, and to Mad Catz, for helping us get our bearings in the industry and for being one of the warmest, welcoming groups at every show we’ve ever been to.

If you missed out on the announcements from CES you can check out our coverage, and if you ever happen to see one of their booths at a future show, make sure to stop off and say hello. It is guaranteed to be one of the most pleasant experiences you have with a showfloor-booth.