Skip to main content

Is HP’s Voodoo PC Unit Finished?

It seems that a number of people are lamenting the passing of Voodoo, the high-end gaming company that HP bought in 2006, and more recently, is rumored to have killed off. But the brand and products aren’t going away. The unit is simply being merged into HP. This will mean a number of changes for Voodoo, most good, some possibly bad depending on where you sit. None of this is unusual. Cadillac and Lincoln started out as separate companies at one time and now, decades later, they continue to be distinct from other GM and Ford products.

Let’s chat about why people likely got excited in the first place, and what the future holds for Voodoo.

The Scary Part of an Acquisition

I’ve been part of an acquisition three times in my career, and can categorically say, as an employee at any level in a company: Being acquired tends to suck if you don’t like change. The bigger the differences between the acquired company and the company doing the buying, the greater the process is likely to suck. People who like to work for small companies often don’t fit into large enterprises easily, and it is hardly unusual for the smaller firm to find its offices shut down and the employees, or their jobs, moved to the larger firm to contain costs.’

That is likely how the news of the Voodoo change leaked out. I expect that an employee who really didn’t like the idea of relocating decided to leak the information out about the consolidation, in the hope that the Voodoo fan base would go ballistic and stop the changes. I’ve actually never seen this happen, and the result, typically, is a much higher level of distrust between the parent company and the one that was acquired.

Also, when you are talking companies of HP’s scale, they can typically trace down the leak. And if they find you, the words “career limiting” are generally an understatement. Your only real choices are to either suck the change up, or take a package (assuming there is one) and go work someplace else. In this economy, I’m thinking the second choice may not be the best one. 

What This Means for Voodoo

For some time now, functions like marketing had already been shifting from Voodoo to HP, and many of the most creative people had been moving into HP to assist with projects ranging from the HP Blackbird to enterprise workstations and servers. To Voodoo’s advantage, it gained access to the massive HP labs facility, and the technology contained within it. Much of what’s inside (and I always get the mental image of the warehouse in the first and last Indiana Jones movies) has never seen the light of day. 

Taking a bunch of creative types and giving them access to cutting-edge super-secret enterprise tech is like letting a little kid who loves candy into a candy store, unsupervised. The eyes get big, the pockets fill up, and hopefully something sweet results.

The new Omen and Envy resulted from just the initial light merging of the two firms, and now the plan is to take the Voodoo brand worldwide, with a broader line and even more interesting products. While this is happening, some of the concepts being used to create these high-end Voodoo offerings are also migrating down into HP branded products that the rest of us can afford, substantially enriching the HP line. So there will be both an increasing number of premium Voodoo branded products, and HP products with Voodoo DNA, like the Blackbird PC. 

You may recall that HP makes smartphones, and has a bunch of ex-Apple people helping to create their next-generation phone. You may not, however, have thought through the likely coming of a Voodoo phone, which might actually surprise both Apple and Google, who also have likely not thought of it. This is the kind of thing that the consolidation of these two units makes possible.

Wrapping Up

When a large company buys a much smaller one, change is inevitable. If they remain separate, there is a high likelihood that the effort will fail and the unit will either be shut down, or sold. That isn’t happening here. Voodoo is not only becoming part of HP, it’s changing the firm, helping to make it more dynamic and exciting. Given that few of us can afford Voodoo-branded products, but virtually all of us can afford HP products, this gives more of us a chance to own cool stuff. It is hard to argue that this isn’t a good thing, while we wait for the Voodoo HP smartphone.

Rob Enderle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rob is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. Before…
Halo Infinite’s talkative Grunts are bad stand-up comedians
halo infinite grunts

I've played every mainline Halo title, with the exception of Halo 5, and have always been bothered by one thing: The Grunts. They are are a cannon fodder enemy type that is meant to fill in ranks and give players something they can mow down without much thought when not facing off against tougher enemies like Elites. In the early days of the series, they were a perfectly fine enemy that was fun to melee attack. They made goofy sounds when attacked, which injected a bit of levity into an otherwise melodramatic series.

It wasn't long before the developers doubled down on that joke, making them more explicitly comedic with one-liners. Grunt humor has always been hit-or-miss, but Halo Infinite takes the hackiness to an overbearing level at the expense of the game's tone.
Grunts are not funny

Read more
Halo Infinite has what it takes to thrive as an esports game
Halo Infinite capture the flag.

While I have been a gamer for my entire life, it was actually very early esports that got me to take the medium seriously. When I was playing Counter-Strike 1.6 at far younger than I should have been, my friend and I would head over to a local gaming café where we would play in small tournaments or casual matches with whoever was around. Later on, it was seeing Halo 2 tournaments hosted by MLG on TV that got me to buy an Xbox and start playing console games online for the first time. I followed the competitive Halo scene up until the end of the Halo 3 days and then ... just kind of fell off.

Esports changed after that, or at least it felt like they did. There were still some first-person shooters doing tournaments, but all the attention seemed to have shifted to MOBAs around that time. Games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends have hosted the biggest Esport tournaments of all time, with giant cash prizes and even bigger viewer numbers.

Read more
The pandemic forced fighting games to grow up in 2021
fighting game growth 2021 kof15 screenshot

Fighting games are one of the most iconic gaming genres out there. From the arcades and cabinet-to-cabinet bouts with Street Fighter 2 to home consoles featuring online netplay across the country with Street Fighter 5, these titles and more like them have become engrained in gaming culture.

Despite how important fighting games are to the medium's history, the genre hadn't really grown up much since its arcade days. That was especially apparent in their archaic online implementation, which was holding back their potential. It wasn't until the COVID-19 pandemic that the genre was forced to modernize and finally act its age.
Staying competitive
For quite some time, fighting game fans have sat on the sidelines and watched as games like Fortnite, Dota, League of Legends, and more receive endless support and great online capabilities. That support turns into profit for the companies making them as it keeps their player base active. A dedicated audience means more prize pool money in esports tournaments and competitive support from the companies. The same can't be said for the fighting genre.

Read more