After experiencing decline in end market demand last year, consumer electronics vendors now attempt to improve their profitability via differentiation. The PC gaming market is currently one of the niche segments that have huge opportunities. Thus, an increasing number of electronics brands are aggressively establishing themselves in the gaming PC hardware market. Part of their motivation comes from the rise of VR devices, which are expected to generate demand for new and better hardware. As reported by the global market research firm TrendForce, the scale of the worldwide market for gaming PCs and their peripherals is projected to reach US$24.35 billion this year.
Growth and differentiation of gaming products to reignite PC market demand
TrendForce’s recent analysis reveals that gaming constitutes a large and growing source of revenue for major GPU manufacturers, as in the case NVIDIA. Strong sales of gaming hardware moreover indicate that this application segment has become a huge driver in the PC market. The boom of online gaming in recent years, along with the fervent promotion of e-sports tournaments, has attracted many PC brands to participate and actively develop the vast gaming market.
Gaming PCs received a lot of exposure at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Products from new entrants to the gaming market include Acer’s Predator series, Lenovo’s Y series and machines from AORUS, a high-end brand under Taiwan-based hardware vendor GIGABYTE. Established brands too showed off their latest offerings at the CES. Dell introduced mid-range and low-end gaming machines from its Inspiron line in addition to high-end products from its well-recognized gaming brand Alienware. ASUS and MSI also unveiled additions to their gaming product lines (e.g. ASUS’s ROG gaming hardware).
TrendForce also finds that purchase decisions in the PC gaming market are very much tied to brand recognition and loyalty, so new entrants will have difficulties changing the existing orders by simply relying on aggressive pricing. Instead, they will have to create differentiation with unique peripherals for gaming PCs. For instance, games developers and consumers have been asking for better displays that can process higher-detailed graphics and have faster refresh time. In the near future, mainstream gaming notebook PCs, such as the 15.6- and 17.3-inch models, will adopt 4K resolution to set themselves apart from other notebook products on the market.
Major device manufacturers introduce competing ‘VR Ready’ certifications as they scramble for a piece of the emerging VR market
Within the gaming market, VR technology is an emerging application that has drawn significant development efforts from device vendors. VR, however, requires powerful PCs: the CPU must have the processing power of an Intel i5-4590 or above, the graphic card must have the same or better specs as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 and the minimum RAM is 8GB. To make purchases easier and avoid device incompatibility, device manufacturers have introduced their hardware certifications for PCs that support VR.
Besides initiatives from end device vendors HTC and Oculus, chip makers NVIDIA and Intel have respectively announced “GeForce GTX VR Ready” and “Intel’s VR Ready” certification plans as well. These different standards on supporting hardware specs reflect the growing rivalry among competitors for the influence over the development of the VR market. TrendForce furthermore notes that these certification programs help accelerate the penetration of VR-capable machines in the PC market. Gaming PCs will therefore see further specs upgrades that can lead to higher prices.