Here are the most expensive Filipino-branded gaming chairs on the market right now. RAKK Casap Elite: P7,995, Panther Hero Series: P7,950, Bathala Dumangan: P7,499, and last but not least, the Player One Ghost V2 at P14,995. Obviously one is not like the others.
The Player One guys are either crazy for trying to compete with pricy international brands–or we should be all Pinoy Pride™ because we’re moving beyond “it’s cheaper eh” as the main selling point and battling on merit.
With a 140kg weight limit, full steel base, 4D armrests, fabric cover, perforated leather, high quality foam and CF trim in the feature list, the Ghost seems impressive enough, but we also spoke to two of the brand’s founders, Gerard Licup and Glenn Molano (their third partner, Kevin Siy, couldn’t make it) to find out the full story behind it.
Let’s get straight into it: why make such an expensive chair when other Pinoy brands come in so much cheaper?
Glenn: P15,000 is not a joke when buying a gaming chair, so those who can afford it are working class people, the professionals. There’s a specific generation of professionals/enthusiast gamers we want to inspire.
Gerard: We also thought of entering that price market, P10,000 and below, but the problem is there’s so much competition. A small company like us, it’s going to be difficult to compete–number one they have bigger marketing budgets for sure, number two they can order much bigger quantities (and get better deals from suppliers).
So Player One is an enthusiast brand for those enthusiasts and professionals who “pay to play?”
Ger: Yes. When we were developing a brand name and vision, we wanted to be associated with a certain culture and attitude–we try to be inspiring. What does being Player One really mean? It’s kinda like you’re taking control.
We’re all player one when playing games. We want that feeling that you’re in control and your confidence level is high…not just in games but in real life.
It might be hard to convince people to buy an expensive chair with that though, especially with the average Pinoy being very budget conscious.
Ger: It’s a challenge and it’s hard to convey the message but at the same time it’s possible. It’s like we’re not taking the easy way out by being cheap.
We also tend to be skeptical of newbie local brands challenging the big established international brands. Or being more expensive.
Ger: As much as we hate that mindset, you can’t really judge people because they might have real life experience where a Pinoy brand sold them a very poor quality product. So we don’t comment na “ganyan talaga e.” (that’s just how it is)
For the mentality that “it’s not gonna be good,” like I said, we’re not only selling the product but an idea. A culture that brings everybody up. We all know there are a lot of downers, so we’re battling it by positively reinforcing the mindset. That’s why we treat ourselves as a premium brand.
What kind of feedback have you received about the Ghost then? How many chairs have you actually sold?
Glenn: Some have said “Wow, SecretLab of the Philippines.” That makes us happy, ha ha!
Ger: For the V1, close to a hundred chairs. To be honest we didn’t really have a target, We kind of don’t look at the numbers but more of who gets to buy. We keep in touch, asking “how’s the chair, how’s it doing?” It’s a quality over quantity thing.
So you didn’t create Player One to make money?
Ger: Definitely, ha ha! It’s really a passion project for us and only now turning into a small business. (Player One) It’s just the three of us, the money we invested is only based on our salary from our day jobs you know?
Gerard works in the oil industry, Glenn in the airline industry, and Kevin in steel fabrication. You guys were strangers to the gaming industry but you also told me that it welcomed you.
Ger: All the connections I have (as our “marketing head”) the root was NVIDIA Philippines. We really owe them a lot. We really didn’t know where to start, I randomly messaged the admin of the NVIDIA GeForce Philippines Facebook group (to ask if I can present our business) as one of the first groups we approached.
Thankfully, they put us in touch with the actual people behind NVIDIA Philippines and they wanted to help us out. They allowed us to enter the community.
And for a startup brand (established November 2018) you managed a collaboration with Lenovo Legion. We think that gave you guys a good dose of credibility
Ger: Yes, later on I met the people behind Legion, they were just starting to sell their laptops and they were trying to figure out a promotion. So we partnered up, everytime you bought a Legion 7, you also got a free Player One x Legion gaming chair.
It was a make or break, these chairs should be the best we’ve ever produced! We didn’t want to embarrass ourselves even if it was only a limited quantity. A quality brand like Lenovo partners takes a chance with a small business like us and we provide a bad product? Actually big or small company, we have to do our best.
Did you ever talk to the other chair makers or local brands like RAKK as well?
Ger: I’ve talked to RAKK and they were kind enough to give me tips on like, how to do marketing. At that time I really didn’t know how to deal with influencers or reviewers–in my day job I do logistics!
They didn’t close their doors and taught me, especially how to say no (in negotiations), because it was really hard for me to say that. I would just keep saying yes to everything even though I already knew I was getting exploited. Not only RAKK, even BrenPro helped me out a lot.
It’s nice to know that people you met in the Philippine gaming industry helped you out rather than being cutthroat to a new competitor.
Ger: You know, to be honest, if someone were to buy a RAKK chair over us…because a lot of people would PM us and say something like “did you know RAKK is priced like this? I’ll just buy from them instead.”
Usually what we say is go ahead, RAKK is good quality and you get what you pay for. Even for brands we don’t personally know, like Bathala, we’re also happy that they’re making it as well…or do you want a pink chair? (We don’t have one but) Panther has pink chairs.
It’s mutual respect, let’s lift each other up.
One last question, it’s so hot in the Philippines. Why not make a fabric chair?
Ger: We initially leaned on fabric for the V2, but we stuck with leather because there’s just something about it when you look at it, and touch it…there’s a certain feel to it
Obviously people will choose fabric with our tropical weather, but at the same time you can kind of just leave fabric alone–leather has to be taken care of. For us, it’s responsibility building. We also want to teach people that you need to take care of products you buy.
Glenn: We did perforate the leather to help though, and created a fabric cover for the V2 to help protect it!