Dell and HP both stress that appealing to gamers was not the sole target of these moves:
“As with all XPS products, the XPS 720 H2C was built for performance, incorporating technologies and features that meet computing and graphics requirements of the most intensive games available. As a result, the system is more than ready to meet the computational analytics, multimedia and design needs of most professionals” (Kittleson).
“We believe HP’s brand and scale lends for a much broader audience. Our PCs are designed for gaming, but because they’ll play games flawlessly, they’ll do pretty much anything you throw at them. At Voodoo, only 25 percent of our customers are actual gamers; the rest use their machines for things like video editing, game development, photo manipulation, medical imaging and digital audio. I suspect that HP Blackbird 002 will attract a similar, albeit broader audience” (Sood).
Thus, even if PC gamers don’t run in droves to buy the XPS 720 H2C and Blackbird 002 machines, Dell and HP have hedged their bets.
However, Dell and HP noticeably disagree about the presumed benefits from the mergers for Alienware and VoodooPC (which still maintain their separate brands). Dell has stressed Alienware’s access to Dell’s supply chain might, in which Alienware could benefit from Dell’s supply chain efficiencies and take advantage of Dell’s vast experience in direct sales business. In contrast, VoodooPC asserts that “by joining HP, our team now has access to a larger R&D budget and a lab that does nothing but research and development. Let’s not forget that HP spends roughly $3.6 billion a year in R&D. With the HP Gaming team, we can help bring innovations to market quicker at the high end” (Sood). So one company emphasizes market advantages (benefiting gamers with lowered prices and improved delivery speed), while the other company emphasizes technological breakthroughs (benefiting gamers through enhanced computer functionality).
Skeptics might argue that the timing of these mergers is a bit odd, as the most popular PC titles are largely real-time strategy games, role-playing releases and casual offerings, none of which generally require the most powerful hardware. Indeed, most popular PC titles in recent years, such as the Sims, Roller Coaster Tycoon and Age of Empires franchises, run just fine without any of this kind of horsepower, and the releases requiring the most computing power — action titles and first-person shooters –are still coming out on the PC, but are usually also available on game consoles. In addition, there’s more competition than ever for customers’ electronic recreational dollars, including the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 game consoles, the DS and the PSP handheld gaming devices, and numerous cell phones and personal digital assistants that can play games. There’s even anecdotal evidence that some gamers who once played primarily or exclusively on the PC have migrated away either because they can’t afford to keep upgrading their technology or they’ve lost patience with the variety of technical glitches and intrusive copy protection schemes present in many computer games.