Razer Respond To Synapse 2.0 Criticism

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅09.11.2012 16:58:48




Earlier today we let you know about a proverbial storm of controversy over at Overclock.net (and amplified at Reddit/Team Liquid) following the reveal that Razer Synapse 2.0 drivers required an online sign-up/activation before a brand new Naga 2012 mouse could be used as anything more than a generic plug-and-play mouse. Razer had responded with an update on CEO Min-Liang Tan's Facebook page*, and followed up** earlier today by outlining changes they're making to Synapse 2.0, and reiterating that Synapse 1.0 will continue to be available for some time to come.

Implicit in the response is that a Razer account & internet connection will still be required upon initial installation of Synapse 2.0, whilst an offline mode will become easier and more transparent to utilise. Razer obviously feel that the benefits of Cloud Profile Storage are worth the onerous task of creating an online account before you can use the mouse's gaming functionality (such as DPI settings, illumination, macro's etc.), but others might disagree. Furthermore, whilst Synapse 1.0 will still support legacy devices, it seems that new products will require Synapse 2.0 to function as anything more than a generic input device.



It's fair to say that calling this schema 'DRM' is a misnomer as copyright isn't a factor, although that's not to say requiring registration to use the majority of features on your new mouse is welcome or sensible. The fact that everything bar Cloud Storage syncing appears to be available in offline mode does indicate that registration could be optional, yet the decision was made to make it effectively mandatory. Razer also mention the financial cost of expanding on-board memory in their products for new functionality - a feature many competitors are investing in - but once again this doesn't justify the activation requirement for those who don't need to migrate between machines.

Efforts to improve the transition between offline and online mode, especially with respect to freezes, are welcome though it probably shouldn't have been a factor in the first place.

It remains to be seen whether Razer have severely miscalculated. Without doubt having a database of contact information for Razer peripheral users will benefit Razer immensely, but the storage of profiles in the Cloud is an extremely niche feature. PC gamers are notoriously fickle in their affections and even one-time online activations for games have caused a backlash in the past; many will feel that requiring it for gaming hardware is a step too far. Privacy considerations will also be high on the agenda given high profile database breaches suffered by companies recently.



**CEO Min-Liang Tan's follow-up response, in full

We’ve heard concerns from the community that Synapse 2.0 requires an always-on internet connection to function. This is untrue. Synapse 2.0 works offline and does not need a persistent internet connection.

However, we hear you and to ensure that our users are absolutely clear about this, we will be updating Synapse 2.0 to allow users to go offline manually if they wish (see attached picture). This will be rolled out soon with an upcoming update. And on top of that, we have also made available the Synapse 1.0 drivers for supported legacy products for those of you who prefer to continue using Synapse 1.0 instead of upgrading to Synapse 2.0.

On the flip side, we have also heard concerns that we may not continue upgrading our other legacy products to Synapse 2.0 as many of you have been waiting for the new features such as cloud saving or profile sharing for your legacy devices. We still plan to continue releasing the new Synapse 2.0 drivers for supported legacy products and the same options as above (i.e. to stay at Synapse 1.0 or upgrade to Synapse 2.0) will also be available.


*CEO Min-Liang Tan's initial response, in full

I wanted to provide some further clarification on Synapse 2.0:

SYNAPSE 1.0 vs SYNAPSE 2.0

Razer was the first to recognize the need for gamers to save their mouse configurations and settings onboard their peripherals. To that end, we created Synapse 1.0, which utilized onboard memory to store settings inside Razer products. This ability has now become one of the de facto features used in gaming
mice worldwide.

Over time, we realized that as firmware, profiles, macros and other settings stored in onboard memory became more complex, more memory space was required. On top of that, other features that we wanted to include, such as inter-device drivers and profile exchanging, were not possible with the Synapse 1.0 architecture.

To give gamers the same benefits provided in Synapse 1.0 and more, we invented Synapse 2.0. Instead of having mouse settings limited by the space in onboard memory, Synapse 2.0 allows gamers to now have almost unlimited space for their profiles and macros. Moreover, other new functionalities such as being able to interact with other peripherals on the same architecture (i.e. keymaps between mice and keyboards) are now possible. Now gamers are also able to easily import and export profiles with their friends.

Another benefit to Synapse 2.0 is that if you purchase an additional Synapse 2.0 mouse for another system, it will not have to set it up all over again; it will be instantaneously customized to one’s stored settings. Such features would not be possible with Synapse 1.0.

We also believe in continuing to support our earlier products with software updates. We believe in providing additional value to our customers as opposed to only providing such features for our new hardware. For example, the Razer Naga MMO gaming mouse created with the Synapse 1.0 architecture was recently updated through Synapse 2.0 to include keymapping, unlimited profiles, and import/export functions. These updates would have taxed memory beyond the original capacity of the mouse using just Synapse 1.0. With Synapse 2.0, every Naga user can have his or her mouse upgraded directly from the cloud without having to go out and purchase another mouse or recreate macros and user-created content.

Synapse 2.0 offers these types of benefit and we’re happy to add features to our products for dedicated gamers looking for continued value after purchase.

However, we recognize that there may be some users of legacy Razer products who prefer to use Synapse 1.0 drivers. While we will still be making these available (see below), we do not want to penalize the vast majority of gamers who want to see our new products and legacy products upgraded to the Synapse 2.0 platform.

Synapse 2.0 vs. DRM

Our products work perfectly out of the box. Unlike DRM games or other media that require an always-on connection, you can use any of our peripherals right out of the box, even if someone doesn’t install Synapse 2.0, and whether a user is offline or online.

Synapse 2.0 provides for additional functionality in the form of cloud storage for settings, inter-device communications, etc. Once registered, Synapse 2.0 provides additional functionality of almost limitless memory in the cloud. It does the same with mapping physical functions, affording myriad options for an array of applications. The amount of information required to register the product is minimal. Again, we make a range of products that, to some degree or another, benefit from cloud-based functionality, but it is not a requirement for our products to work. There are great gamers out there that don’t regularly use Synapse 2.0, which speaks to the inherent quality of our products.

Synapse 2.0 works OFFLINE

One of the biggest misunderstandings is the equation of Synapse 2.0 to always-on DRM. It’s a popular notion that anything requiring a login has DRM included in it, and this misconception is one that easily gets the community fired up. In this case however, it’s incorrect.

Once registered, Synapse 2.0 works offline and never needs to be online again. So basically, a user creates an account, saves initial settings, and if there’s no internet connection, it doesn’t matter - settings are saved on the client PC and are not synced to the cloud. Synapse 2.0 works offline.

We understand that this still might be confusing. We will continue to take steps to clarify and to ensure that our users have the correct information (see below).

Server Outages

Finally, as far as the Synapse 2.0 activation server goes, we realize that we have had intermittent issues with it due to server usage spikes and, most recently, because of Hurricane Sandy – not uncommon challenges with server-based functions, especially given the severity of the storm – and we’re working on increasing server reliability.

We had an issue for four hours recently when users were unable to register for new Synapse 2.0 accounts. Current users of Synapse 2.0 were unaffected. We are working on new ways to keep these types of issues from occurring.

Steps to clarify the situation

1. Legacy or Synapse 1.0 drivers (for applicable legacy products) will be made available shortly on the Razer Support Site. We will continue to develop applicable Synapse 2.0 drivers for our other legacy products, as the vast majority of users of our products have been asking for Synapse 2.0 features. Again, if those products are already Synapse 1.0 supported, we will make both Synapse 1.0 and Synapse 2.0 drivers available to them.

All future Razer products will support Synapse 2.0 and other future platforms.

2. Manual Offline mode will be made available shortly. At this time, Synapse 2.0 works seamlessly between online and offline mode, and is unobtrusive to the user. If an internet connection goes down and if the user has enabled offline mode by checking the “stay logged in” box, Synapse 2.0 automatically goes into offline mode.

Through listening to our community we have added many new features to Synapse, and we have been working on putting in place a more robust manual offline mode for Synapse 2.0, letting users choose to go into offline mode with a click of a button. This functionality will be rolled into an upcoming update.

We value the feedback from the community and we hope the above statement helps to clarify any issues.


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