Opinion: Gaming can be a power-up for IT

Business is booming in gaming and serves as a stark contrast to the difficulties facing IT as a whole says Dominic Ashford, senior account manager at GfK.

It’s no secret that PC gaming is providing a boost for the IT market. This has been further underlined by the fact that sales of mobile and desk PCs marketed as gaming devices have seen a year-on-year revenue increase of 72 per cent in the first half of 2017. This is a welcome trend for a PC market experiencing challenging conditions, and is particularly significant against a context of increasing consumer uncertainty, with GfK’s consumer confidence index dropping to -12 in July. With the IT Channel also facing pressures caused by rising prices, gaming is an opportunity across various different product areas and channels.

The uplift provided by PC gaming isn’t limited to PCs, with the gaming keyboards and mice markets experiencing growth of 23 per cent and 16 per cent in the first half of 2017. Even more impressive is the market for gaming monitors which has seen value growth of 180 per cent comparing the first half of 2017 with the equivalent period of 2016. These accessory products demonstrate the premium that gaming can offer, as demonstrated by gaming monitors which had an average selling price £82 higher than non-gaming equivalents in the first half of 2017. Clearly, gamers are willing to pay more for products that enhance the digital experience.

One major difference between the markets is that gaming products are bought in a much higher proportion than non-gaming. This gap has narrowed compared to 2016, but more that 70 per cent of gaming PCs have been sold online so far in 2017 and so it could be argued that traditional retailers might find it more challenging to capitalise on the opportunities presented. In answer to this, there are factors which in-store retailers should be leveraging to their advantage. In a GfK Futurebuy survey, when asked what reasons contributed to making an in-store purchase (for any product), the biggest factor given by consumers was ‘seeing and feeling before buying’. This factor should be a major reason for in-store sales of gaming products, particularly accessories that offer upgrades in the visualisation or interaction with games. 

As with everything commercial, timing is a key driver of success with gaming hardware. It will come as no surprise to learn that Black Friday is significant to the gaming markets. The last two years have demonstrated that this effect is growing, however, with November 2016 being more significant than November 2015 for all the gaming markets mentioned above. Of particular note again is gaming monitors, for which November of 2016 represented 16 per cent of all gaming monitors sales in 2016, up from 12 per cent year-on-year.

Overall, PC gaming is driving value across multiple areas in IT, including ones not mentioned here. This is despite challenging conditions overall and rising prices in the Channel. This demonstrates the power of gaming as an opportunity, particularly to drive revenue growth. 

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