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Gaming as an ecosystem: in search of superior (gaming) experiences

by Pavlin Lazarov , 19.12.2018

Gaming PCs continue to be one of the positive drivers of growth on a PC market which has stagnated in the last few years. Gaming is not a local phenomenon, but a global trend which is reflected in the demand for unique experiences and high-performance devices the world over. Enthusiastic customers must reach deep into their pockets for an outstanding gaming experience as well as strong performance as these devices are normally to be found in the premium price categories. Nevertheless, this situation does not seem to be an obstacle for eager gamers since they are prepared to pay more than one and a half times the average price for a gaming PC.

Solid double-digit sales growth

In total, gaming and gaming-capable PCs generated revenues of more than 12 billion USD in the first ten months of 2018, which accounted for 19 percent of total PC sales. As a result, gaming PCs achieved a +31 percent increase in sales compared to the same period in the previous year. Their growth remained stable within the double-digit range, but was lower than the positive growth of +55 percent in 2017. The share of gaming PCs grew from 6 percent in 2016 to just under 12 percent in the period from January to October 2018, while at 7 percent, gaming capable PCs had to endure a decrease in turnover (2016: 8 percent).

Light price fluctuations in gaming PCs; gaming capable desktops more strongly affected

With reference to global developments, gaming PCs are representative of two central trends: performance and premium. Correspondingly, the prices set are not surprising, especially in the premium segment. In the period from January to October 2018, the average price of a gaming notebook showed a slight increase of +4 percent to 1,100 USD, while the price of a gaming desktop was just over 1,200 USD on average. At the same time, the price of a gaming-capable desktop (including DIY PCs) grew from 680 USD to 750 USD. The prices of gaming and gaming capable PCs are contingent on, among other things, the price of components (graphics card (GPU), processor (CPU), RAM, etc.) and could trigger further fluctuations in the coming months, depending on the availability of components.

Where to find growth?

The largest gaming market globally by some distance (excluding North America) is China with a turnover share of more than 50 percent. Thereafter, the top 5 countries, such as Germany or France, each with 5 percent, are in the single-digit range. If we look at the top 10, there follow also Russia and Poland, which are currently performing better than Spain, Japan and South Korea. By contrast, Thailand, with a high growth rate of over +80 percent, is one of the climbers (rising star) on the gaming market and, together with Turkey, was able to overtake some of the European markets such as Sweden and the Netherlands.

Gaming accessories: additional momentum for the gaming ecosystem

A gaming PC is not an isolated system, but is part of a very dynamic gaming ecosystem, to which monitors, mice, keyboards, headphones (headsets) and even chairs belong. In 2017, the value of gaming monitors increased by +77 percent and achieved growth of +44 percent in the first ten months of 2018. Gaming monitors with a refresh rate of 100 Hz or more performed even better and generated an increase in turnover of +92 percent in the same period, underlining the importance of performance features for gaming experiences in the high-end sector. Gaming mice and keyboards also contributed to gaming's momentum in 2018 with sales growth rates of +13 percent and +8 percent respectively. Headphones for gaming PCs and consoles were also among the drivers of growth, with an increase in turnover of more than +50 percent. Virtual reality glasses round off the gaming ecosystem and lend a distinctive character to immersive experiences. Furthermore, 'mixed reality' could provide another boost for gaming.

Gaming beyond the PC: cell phones, consoles, cloud gaming…

Gaming is not only limited to PCs, since consumers choose between different devices and are often active on several platforms (PC & console or cell phone & console). Thanks to the multi-platform availability of games, consumers have more flexibility regarding when, where and on which device they would like to play. This means that PCs are increasingly competing with cell phones and consoles for the attention of players, which is often use-case driven. Simultaneously, there is increasing talk about cloud gaming, which leaves the performance of the PC in the background. It remains to be seen to what extent this kind of gaming will establish itself, though one thing is certain: consumers will continue to demand fascinating and spectacular visual (gaming) experiences.

Source: GfK Point-Of-Sales Panel, International Coverage excl. North America, Sales Value USD & Price USD incl. VAT, Jan-Oct 2018