PC game sales hit $20 billion last year, no signs of slowing

By on March 27, 2013, 7:00 PM

Despite declining desktop shipments as well as an increased interest in mobile and social games, the PC gaming market is still holding strong with a growth of 8% last year according DFC analyst David Cole, who was quoted in a recent PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) report. (The PCGA has released excerpts from two member-exclusive papers spanning all things PC gaming, but you'll have to pay for the full copies).

Cole says there are more than a billion PC gamers around the globe who spent $20 billion on their hobby last year. Both figures figure are set to continue rising, especially with the booming Chinese market where the economy is expanding and consoles are hard to come by. China represented $6.8 billion of the $20 billion revenue, an on-year boost of 9%, making it the fastest growing market for PC games.

The industry also showed growth in various other mature markets including Korea, Japan, the US, the UK and Germany, with PC standing as the leading platform for high-end games in many areas where consoles are too costly. Of the world's one billion PC gamers, it's said that more than 250 million of them are interested in so-called "core games" such as sophisticated strategy, role-playing and action titles.

Further highlighting PC gaming's strength, the PCGA noted that the market has grown 90% since the group's first report in 2008. The industry managed to shake off waning interest in pricey subscription-based MMO games -- though it's worth noting that World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria was honorably mentioned as one of last year's most successful games alongside Guild Wars 2, Minecraft and Diablo III.

The PCGA also explained that while the increased competition from smartphones and tablets could be viewed as a negative -- kind of how we did in the intro -- the mobile segment's success is said to be helping the PC gaming business. It opens the door to cross-platform releases from a growing number of small self-funded developers who make low-cost games that commonly go viral with cult-like success.

Interestingly, despite representing a poorer value, the PCGA says there's an shift away from traditional desktop setups toward high-end laptops with powerful graphics and audio. It's not uncommon to see the launch of a new gaming laptop mocked among enthusiasts for supposedly being overpriced or impractical, but apparently those folks don't represent the majority. "PC gaming is going mobile," Noreke said.




User Comments: 20

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Guest said:

No surprise.

1 person liked this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm happy to see that PC gaming is alive and well (and as Guest so eloquently stated, to "no surprise."

I'd like to see some stats on that last paragraph though. I'm an IT professional in the most IT-centric city in the world - Seattle - with a large collection of gamer friends who also work in the IT industry and I don't know of a single one who has gone out and bought one of those $2k - $3k "gaming" laptops to play their games on.

misor misor said:

So the "idea" that the era of pc has come and gone is not true then?

1 person liked this | TitoBXNY TitoBXNY said:

PC is where its at and will be for a long time. Now that you don't even have to go to box stores to get your games, PC games will be easier than ever to get.Just re-installed Planescape Torment and I am having a great time the best written story in my personal list of great games,

Guest said:

China is growing but the attitude isn't.

Game addiction in China is just on another level and some. Either the gamer dies or anybody related to them dies.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

It will only continue to grow, PC tech are getting more better by the year and even integrated graphics can now play casual games on decent settings. Given time, more and more people will be able to enjoy higher settings with future low-mid tier priced cards.

psycros psycros said:

China is growing but the attitude isn't.

Game addiction in China is just on another level and some. Either the gamer dies or anybody related to them dies.

LOL, whut?

JC713 JC713 said:

Thats what I am talking about.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

It will only continue to grow, PC tech are getting more better by the year and even integrated graphics can now play casual games on decent settings. Given time, more and more people will be able to enjoy higher settings with future low-mid tier priced cards.

"More better"???

2 people like this | fimbles fimbles said:

It will only continue to grow, PC tech are getting more better by the year and even integrated graphics can now play casual games on decent settings. Given time, more and more people will be able to enjoy higher settings with future low-mid tier priced cards.

"More better"???

Obviously he meant "betterer" :P

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Obviously he meant "betterer" :p

How obvious. Why didn't I think of that? Thanks.

colinf said:

Rubbish...all us pc gamers steal our games, candy from babies and kill kittens

Guest said:

A few years ago, they predicted PC gaming slowing to a halt. It did slow a bit for a short time, but came back strong. I think they same will occur for PC sales in general. Sure it's slowing a bit now, but it will pick back up as Windows 8 and later Windows take a stronger hold of the market.

After being a major complainer about Windows 8 for a while, I bit the bullet and installed it. Lots of surprises I didn't expect. It works extremely well on a non-touch desktop, and games run fantastically! Glad I did it. I believe more people will have the same experience if they decide to switch, and it will catch on quickly soon.

Mbloof said:

While I still think that the +7lb 'gaming' laptops are rather comical I don't think anyone is actually lugging them around all day. They may go from home-car/plane-hotel/vacation spot and were not intended to be lugged around all day. (being moved between different rooms in ones house comes to mind)

There was a time in the not to distant past where a laptop user could not even DREAM of booting up a modern day game release unless they owned one of those pet-rocks. The technology that is powering today's high end desktop cards are trickling down to mobile chips and laptops where you can get almost 'console game quality' on a fairly inexpensive and light laptop.

Reduced resolution, quality and frame rate? Sure. You can always watch re-runs on the hotel cable TV or stare at the wall instead.

ess333 said:

PC gaming is very much alive

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

The slowdown coincided with the AAA games/producers and distributors mandating a console centric approach, THEN a cheap port to PC that never worked right, Test Drive Unlimited is a perfect example of how badly the PC 'ports' were handled, Homefront was a shambles and never did get a single patch and HAWK 2 was a fail from the get go.. DICE starts to make PC games first again.. then detuning for console and the market picks up as more companies go this route..

Draconian said:

Imagine how many billions more there would be if people didn't pirate.

Guest said:

I'm happy to hear these numbers. What's worrying to me, though, is the high growth rate in China vs. the USA. I have no problem with Chinese kids playing PC games - I think that's great. My problem is that over here in the USA, kids are playing on consoles. Disregarding all the usual "consoles are killing PC innovation" arguments (which I tend to agree with), there is one aspect to this that I haven't heard anything about.

The tech boom that occurred here in the USA from the late '80s through the early '00s I believe was largely due to the fact that we had a whole bunch of kids/teens (myself included) trying to learn everything they could about whatever computing platform they were playing with - Commodore, Apple, PC, etc. The PC as a platform is intrinsically more complex than a console, which lends it power and flexibility, but at a cost of having a higher learning curve.

But that's not a bad thing, right? Just because there is more to learn about shouldn't put us off a topic. The more you learn about your PC, the more you understand how it works and how to do more stuff with it. Eventually, hardcore PC people have a tendency to move on to learning about software development, and many become software engineers. Here is where the problem lies today. With the current generation of kids growing up mainly gaming on the walled garden platforms of consoles, tablets, and phones, they aren't given as much of an opportunity to tinker, to learn, and eventually to master these platforms.

The current generation of kids in China, where console gaming is dwarfed by PC gaming, are going to know vastly more about the underlying technology that runs the world than the kids in the USA are. I see this as incredibly sad and also tactically disastrous. I don't really know what can be done about it. Left as-is, the USA will not only be unable to compete in low-tech jobs like manufacturing, we won't be able to compete in high-tech jobs like software and hardware engineering.

What can we do about this? How do we create a PC renaissance here in the USA? Console gaming is entrenched. It's too easy to spend a couple hundred bucks on an XBOX or PS3 and have easy, effortless (well, compared to PC) gaming. Compare this to the $1000+ you'd need to spend on a comparable PC coupled with the more complex nature of gaming on it, and it's tough to see how to break that cycle.

There is a console ban in China that has been in effect for the last decade or so. There are rumblings this ban may be lifted, in which case the playing field will level out. Barring that, what else could we do here in the USA to swing the pendulum the other way? I love the Steam Greenlight concept, and there does seem to be a surge of indie games coming out over the past couple of years. What else can individuals do?

Thoughts? I'm genuinely interested in any ideas about this topic.

ikesmasher said:

I feel like steam is saving the PC gaming industry sort of. with its sales and stuff. Maybe its just me.

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