A few years ago, I received a CM4 case for my Nintendo DSi. The case was very well made, useful, and was one of the better third party cases available at the time. Curious as to whether CM4 had plans to release cases and accessories for newer systems such as the Wii U or PlayStation Vita, I sent an e-mail off to CM4. Within hours I received a response directly from the president and CEO of CM4, Mr. Matt Altschul:
We’ve pondered and considered making the more gaming cases but, alas, we’re just not going to be able to make it happen. Moving forward, we’re steering in the direction of mobile and tablet cases as a large percentage of the world is now using those platforms for casual gaming. The dedicated consoles are still certainly going to be popular and sell well for quite a while but we’re found that a large percentage of the gaming audience isn’t willing to pay for the type of premium accessories we design so the mobile/tablet industry makes the most sense for us . . .
I also loved (and still do) our gaming cases. I poured my heart and soul into making fantastic nice cases that protected the device, felt great in the hands, didn’t add bulk, and had clean sophisticated style. But the gaming industry tanked. Retailers reduced merchandizing space for gaming accessories and didn’t want to take any risks with new products. Meanwhile, we had to twist arms to convince gamers of the value of a $25 case versus a cheap $5 piece of silicone. These were all tough truths we had to swallow as we pivoted the company in a direction that better aligned with what we set out to accomplish: enhance the way you interact with life.
I was saddened by this state of affairs, but it seemed as though CM4 just couldn’t find a market for higher quality, more expensive accessories. I then asked Mr. Altschul whether he thought that smaller vendors like CM4 had been pushed out of the market; had the accessory market been over saturated by the ‘giants’ of the accessory world, companies like Mad Catz, PDP, and the like? Once again, I received a response fairly quickly:
Well, certainly large ‘incumbents’ (per se) create a barrier to entry for new players in any industry. They have strong existing relations with buyers of the retailers and more capital to fund marketing and sales initiatives. Many of the large gaming accessory companies have found a formula the works for both them and the average gamer. They make inexpensive alternatives to the 1st party products. It works for them but wasn’t an arena we wanted to take CM4. And as you suggested, that’s a saturated market. If we made another cheap gamepad or case, there’d be no reason to boot out the same type of product from larger company because it’s more work for the retailer (we’re another vendor for them to manage).
These are trials that any start-up faces in any industry. What we found though is our expertise in making premium products didn’t fit customer demand and was unfortunately timed as the dedicated gaming console industry shrunk. Hence our pivot to a new industry. And I’m sure we’ll expand/evolve into new industries in the future as well.
We’ll see if anyone else enters the higher range game accessory market, but it seems as though CM4 is firmly in the mobile arena for the time being.