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

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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.

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