Q&A w/ Mark Starrett of Saitek

Posted in Gaming,Hardware,Interview by Shawn Wallace on 7 2006f March 2006

Tonight we’ve got a fine interview with Mark Starrett of Saitek, talking about present and future products, and what’s next for this PC gaming controller developer. Check it:

Gamingnext – Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Mark Starrett – I’ve been the U.S. Marketing Manager for four years, and came to Saitek nine years ago to launch our line of PC Game controllers. I came to Saitek because I’m a gamer at heart, and so is Saitek. My favorites are combat flight simulations, and head-to-head dogfighting. In what spare time there is left, I enjoy motorcycle sport-touring.

GNX – Saitek is known for its high-end PC game controllers. Are there any plans to get back into the console market, what with the popularity of the Xbox 360 and the upcoming PS3?

MS – Saitek is always looking to develop exciting and new products in a variety of vertical markets based on market demand. Saitek manufactures its own products so we have a strategic advantage in responding to market demands and bringing products to market in a timely manner. If there is a way to develop a product that is novel and distinct in the console market, of course we would consider it.

GNX – What’s on the horizon for Saitek and its controllers?

MS – I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you. Seriously, our controllers are following the trends in gaming. In some cases, we have new concepts, while in others, like our keyboards and game pads, we are refining the products to offer a better product than is currently available.

GNX – Where do you see controllers heading in the next few years? Do you see products similar to the Wolfclaw or the Nostromo becoming more prevalent?

MS – There is definitely a trend toward controllers for First Person, RPG and Strategy. Responses to our Pro Gamer Command Unit have been very good. The challenge is making a controller that actually improves the gaming experience.

GNX – This is a bit of an aside, but we see Saitek has branched into audio? Tell me a little about that.

MS – Given the changing way in which consumers are buying and listening to music, Saitek developed three products focused on portable music players and PC based music libraries. The A-200 is a portable speaker system for portable music players like an ipod. The system is designed in a unique way to allow the speaker to expand bass. The A-250 wireless speaker system liberates the music trapped on your music library and allows users to listen from our speaker without the encumberance of wires. We just announced that we are shipping our A-350 wireless headphones yesterday. This is a great product because the headphones connect directly to your ipod or other portable music device without wires.

GNX – Has Saitek ever considered going beyond controllers and audio into maybe video or other PC peripherals?

MS – We have expanded our product vision into a category we call Digital Media Entertainment. If a product or idea fits within that scope, we consider it. The most important decision for us is that we can truly offer a better product. You won’t see us making video cards, scanners or printers, but other products are possible. They have to fit with our product family.

GNX – With E3 right around the corner, anything you want to spoil with us now?

MS – We will have the more new products this year than ever. Expect new gaming mice, and one thing our fans have been begging for for years, rudder pedals. Flight Simulator X will be coming this Christmas, and we want computer pilots to have everything they’ve ever wanted. There are more surprises, but that’s what E3 is for!


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