If you head on over to one of the biggest PC gaming communities on the internet, the PC Master Race subreddit, you’d be forgiven for thinking that with less than 750,000 subscribers, PC gamers are not tremendously important. But it’s only a tiny part of the iceberg – a giant, growing, $30-billion-a-year industry that shows no signs of slowing down. PC gamers have been a growing and strong target market for the last few decades, and it bucks the trend of declining PC sales because almost everyone buys their own components separately. Something on the order of 30 million motherboards each year are sold by ASUS and Gigabyte. According to a new report by Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the gaming PC market as of 2016 breached global revenue of $30 billion, and it’s expected to see growth at 6% annually.
JPR has renamed the three segments of hardware it tracks to “Entry-Level”, “Mid-Range”, and “High-End” (from “Mainstream”, “Performance”, and “Enthusiast”). As Jon Peddie, President of JPR explains, “We know that gamers with lower budgets are just as passionate about gaming as those with more resources and are enthusiasts in the purest sense of the word, so we decided to transition to a more descriptive terminology. NVIDIA and AMD are not ignoring these customers either and offerings like the GTX 1050 bring powerful graphics processing for around $120. We are also very excited about the prospects for the AMD Ryzen CPU platform and think it will be adopted at all three hardware tiers. Of course Intel CPUs currently offer superior power and value for gamers of every budget level, and their integrated graphics now rival game consoles.”
JPR’s report is fairly interesting in terms of how the market is skewed globally. They found that countries in the Asia Pacific region see the most growth at 7% per year, but that this was mostly in the mid-range and entry level hardware segments, which covers everything from a locked Core i5 processor all the way down to a lowly Pentium dual core. The gaming culture there is almost entirely PC-centric, and consoles do not do well owing to the success of internet cafes that have good equipment and a huge appreciation for team-based shooters, MOBAs, and strategy games like Starcraft 2.
European and American markets on the other hand prefer a mixture of everything, but lean more towards the high-end market when it comes to components and peripherals. However, Asian markets still outrank them in terms of sales numbers in those segments, with the high-end market growing by almost 10% each year compared to 5.78% for American markets, and 6.63 for European countries.
JPR also noted that the entry level market was shrinking, as PC gamers moved up to the mid-range or high-end markets to continue their hobby. As they note in their press release about the report, “the average PC sale is increasingly motivated by the video game use model which is important to understand in a stagnant or declining overall PC market. As basic computing functions become more entrenched with mobile devices, the PC ultimately becomes a power user’s tool.”