Monday, February 21, 2011

Burning Question

Looks like Vendetta is making the move to shoot the Axe this season too. Empire have made some strong moves promoting their newest marker. They've created some real buzz but how will it eventually translate? Is it enough that a large number of national pro & divisional competitors are using the Axe or do they need to win, too?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

KEE/EMPIRE is huge right now. The way they've played their ticket, someone is bound to win using an AXE. Infamous is likely to be the first/most, XSV might win a lot of their games but lose events over time, Legend is an NPPL representation of another demographic under tournament and having VV as a Canadian extension.

They stand to sell a lot of AXE's with their marketing interests. I think the real question is- does those markets still exist to see a real pay off sometime soon and how soon? I mean, we all love paintball, but how many people are playing every weekend? How many of those people are going to buy an AXE?

I think overall, the AXE could flop in the way that the Ion did if Empire isn't careful. For a share of what they're looking for, they're going to have to appeal to the recreational market in a big way. Are these teams enough to make that transition where it may have failed before? Maybe- but I wouldn't hold my breath about it.

Case in point- Dynasty Ion. For the cost, new players could have entered the tournament scene with pro paintball's most winningest team behind the product. But they didn't.

::flips coin::

Janek said...

Ion flopped? It was the best selling electropneumating gun in the last 5 years.

J-Bird said...

janek is right. however, i dont think i see any "private label" axe markers like the dynasty ion.

Dan said...

The ion was certainly not a flop. It had flaws that prevented it from being considered a serious players gun. With the Axe, If the gun shows it can stay on the field, not break paint, not break itself, and show that it truly is everything others are at half the cost, then they are onto something. To this point any gun who has claimed that has fallen drastically short in my (and many others) eyes. My experience so far with it is that, its a big step in the right direction, though still well short of the $1000+ range.

Dan said...

I should stipulate that winning in and of itself is not part of showing that a gun belongs. That just shows that its mechanically sound. Its stuff beyond the 12.5 and legal that separates a gun from others.

ryan said...

MY D3X TEAM WAS NOT TOO INTRESTED IN BEING AN AXE TEAM THIS YEAR. WELL AFTER USING A FEW AT LAST WEEKS PRACTICE IN 25 DEGREE CHICAGO WEATHER, WE INFACT WILL BE USING THE AXES PROVIDED BY EMPIRE AT TEXAS PSP AND THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE 2011 SEASON. GUYS, THE GUN IS THE REAL DEAL, A LITTLE TUNING OUT OF THE BOX AND YOUR GOLDEN! I WAS BLOWEN AWAY! THIS MARKER WILL CHANGE THE GAME.

Reiner Schafer said...

ryan, in your opinion, how will this marker change the game?

Does it shoot the balls straighter, farther, faster? Or are you suggesting that the kiddies who couldn't afford a $1200 gun will now be able to get an axe and be competitive and competitive paintball will now take off?

Anonymous said...

Reiner, ryan was shouting, that's how it will change the game.

Don Saavedra said...

Thanks to brand new, marginally improved markers every year, and folks like Trade My Gun, it's never been very difficult to get your hands on a top level, competitive gun. The Axe's price tag won't have any affect on the numbers of available tournament players.

Reiner Schafer said...

Exactly my thoughts Don. Cheaper high quality markers will change the landscape of recreational paintball more than it will change tournament paintball, much like the Ion did. If anything, the release of low priced tournament ability markers hurt tournament paintball more than it helped it. That's only my opinion of course, which doesn't count for much. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Whoa- the Ion [i]wasn't[/i] a flop? How does a company with what you're describing manage to run itself out of business so quickly then? Because as far as I know, when a company sells a ton of product, they aren't likely to piss that money away so quickly. Note, making those products takes a lot of money. Add to that, we both probably know the history of SP in and out pretty well. Don't put that on me. A couple of plastic pieces, an aluminum tube and some springs. All the Ion upgrades only that one guy at the field bought (and max'd out the marker, somehow making it worthless on the resale). All the Ion variations, for MilSim, PL Team markers, didn't sell for crap. SP put way too much emphasis on their high end and low end without any middle ground. The Boom Hits- now they gotta rebuild.

Here's my point- KEE is spending the cash on supporting teams. What's the next step for this product when the industry standard and expectation from customers is to release a custom setup? Considering the genre over time (let's say it starts w/the Impulse-huge success, mid level marker, PL, +upgrads and major improvements over time) from Impulse to Shockers, Ions, EGO's, DYE, etc., how does a marker that is already "pro quality" at a mid level market price grow without both reaching demographic in the market as well as professional players and in what increment(s)?

The reason I make an Ion reference is because those flaws completely abliterated any promise the platform could have ever had as well as shoddy marketing. Sure, it was a cheap setup that many people could buy, and many people did, but resale and long term use was absolutely non-existent. A sales number doesn't exactly describe the real world conditions of such a product. It was built to be a junker over time; buying the cheapest engine so to speak. Point A to B.

Here we have KEE; they're on top of the world, they've got it in the palm of their hand, but I'd hate to see them get Munsoned out and blow it. The question is when and where is the next Empire marker coming out? Do they do a high-end with ANGEL sales not doing so hot? With the new ANGEL release, does that hold over the distribution with KEE?

Why isn't there a high end Empire marker!?

Arguably the biggest paintball company in the world, and maybe the only one running in the black consistently, doesn't have a high end marker. That's the customer expectation- EMPIRE hosting a few teams is a big difference than the approach of an overall marker platform compared to what the company is capable of. It's the bigger question of where is this marker going to fit in when we've been shown less-expensive markers don't do well in tournament OR recreational settings for what customers expect. It's the very reason why everyone still uses Tippmann markers- they're reliable, forever. They always work. How long will the AXE provide that quality remains to be seen. Lastly, if there is only the Mini to compare it to, what does that say about the size and scope of a company's potential? I think we could all guess that KEE could engineer something fantastic for the tournament realm, but the impression is why haven't they? I think that's the bottom line- because when it comes to any product, people want the best with what they can buy. This marker has to prove it where others have failed miserably.

@Don-Agreed

ryan said...

reiner,
the axe proves that it will hang with the best of them for an afforable price. the ergonomics were also changed to make it feel more aggressive in the hands.

the axe really setps up to the plate. what is yet to be seen is how it holds up after 50-150k shots. as i stand right now i think it will do just fine.

cc said...

Anony,
You're not very smart, contrary to how many words you manage to throw at a topic. Companies which expand too rapidly go out of business all the time. The Ion was wildly successful. SP quadrupled down on it right as the economy and industry was starting to tank. The higher you climb the higher you have to fall.

Reiner Schafer said...

ryan, that's fine, but I still don't see how that will change the game. All it might do is make competitive markers cheaper to buy. Although that might help a few wannabe tourney players get their hands on a higher level marker, I don't see how that will, in any significant way, change tournament paintball. Would any of the teams that will be shooting the Axe this year, not be playing if they didn't get the Axe (not counting any other sponsorships they may be getting from Kee because they are promoting the Axe for them)? Will there be a few more low level entry teams playing this year because they feel they can compete better now? If so, I doubt it would be very many. A markers is just a small portion of the equation. I think you are getting caught up in the hype.

Baca Loco said...

Reiner
Big Picture the move Empire is making is leveraging paint cost against marker promotion. Far as I can tell most of the arrangements related to using Empire stuff plus Axe can pay off in reduced cost or even free paint. And I would be very surprised if the same didn't apply to the pro teams involved. All things considered, very clever.

Reiner Schafer said...

So teams are getting cheaper/free paint because they are promoting Axe/Empire? Is this something new? Were paint sponsorships separate from other sponsorships in the past? No combo deals (sorry for my ignorance)?

This could have been done with any marker then. The Axe just happens to be the push right now cause it's new (and relatively cheap so within easier grasp of the commoners)?

Giving away free or cheap paint is really just another expense for a business, no different than buying advertising, from a finance standpoint. I assume KEE is doing this in lieu of the traditional advertising route (or as much of it). It will be interesting to see if it pays off for them.

It sucks for the field and store owners out there (KEE's other customers). Devaluing paint for a business whose main product/sale is paint, can't be good. Does that seem like pulling the rug out from under their distributors again? Sometimes the big picture isn't as clear as it seems.

Baca Loco said...

Reiner
Empire intended to arrange much of the divisional support through their local stores--or at least that is an adjunct to the whole Axe effort. Couldn't speak to the specific teams but I've seen some of the recent emails outlining the potential sponsorship opportunities.

ryan said...

reiner,

this is the gateway for new changes to the sport. things need to change for survival. its 1 sided opinions that hamper the progress that is needed to propell the sport. the glory is with the electro marker. i see thousands of kids at my home field every weekend ( yes thousands!!) and my self and many of my players are there promoting advanced paintball to the rec players. the kids all love the bright colored guns with computers. when they hear "that setup costs around 1600$ retail" they lose intrest rather quickly. now at half that cost they are maintaining intrest.

Reiner Schafer said...

I guess I just don't believe it will make a significant difference. The correlation between cheaper tourney gear and higher participation just isn't there. At least that's what history seems to have shown. But maybe I'm wrong and the future will yield the opposite. I'd like to be wrong in this case.

Baca Loco said...

Anything that lowers the bar to entry is a plus for the game and player base. Could the Axe (and some follow-up competition) do that? I think they could given that the performance ceiling was reached years ago.

I'm interested in the whole Axe phenomenon; the marketing by KEE and the potential impact on the entire marker market if the Axe succeeds and captures the public imagination. High end sales are already soft and have been under assault by the second hand market for years. I don't think it's too far-fetched to envision the Axe shaking up the whole industry.

ryan said...

baca,

i agree. the performance ceiling has been reached. the hype then was how fast and how compact can we go!!?? those times included a steady cash flow for most players or players parents. in the changing conditions, the new wave is looking for affordability with performance. my point being is that this new axe marker from empire is infact a well rounded machine that will compete with the glory markers. dont get me wrong, dye and pe do beautiful work, but justifing a 1500$ marker is getting alot harder now.

- ryan s
lsd paintball

ryan said...

if any of you guys are up for some drinks in texas for the psp event shoot me an email. im always up for good conversation with those hard to come by intelligent paintballers!

ryansryans1@gmail.com

Reiner Schafer said...

Baca, just think about how cheap 2nd hand Axes will be a year from now.

From a manufacturer's perspective, lowering the value of tourney markers across the board won't help their bottom lines, unless of course it entices masses of more players who will then be buying other gear and upgrades (maybe that's what KEE is betting on). But I think most will agree that is wishful thinking and most likely not reality. It didn't work for Smart Parts when they sold oodles of Ions.