The global sales of gaming PCs grew by 16.2% during 2020, thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic and its stay-at-home orders, but the growth isn’t forecasted to end there: Data from UK-based Safe Betting Sites suggests the trend will continue through at least 2024 and result in 25% growth by that point.
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The gaming industry has been incredibly resilient during the pandemic, with sales of hardware and software both growing considerably over the course of 2020. According to Safe Betting Sites’ data, the most popular devices have been high-end gaming computers, which are expected to account for 47% of gaming PC profits, or around $18.5 billion.
Mid-range and low-end gaming PCs account for the other half of the gaming PC market, which has grown 60% over the last five years, and Safe Betting Sites forecasts it will grow by another quarter in the next four. IDC, Safe Betting Sites said, predicts a large surge in purchases in 2021 thanks to new GPUs that will drive prices down and performance up.
These numbers suggest that high-end, powerful PCs used for gaming aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the number of gamers expected to lay down a few thousand dollars for a gaming PC is growing.
This leaves out an important industry growing right alongside high-end PC gaming, though: Cloud gaming. Services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Microsoft xCloud make top AAA titles playable on hardware as low end as a Chromebook, so why spend thousands on a gaming PC that’s only going to age out and need replacing?
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Cloud gaming has been on the horizon for some time, but 2020 is the year it finally became mainstream, TechRepublic sister site CNET found in its time at CES 2020. “Cloud gaming opens more possibilities and audiences—whether the console is removed from the equation or serves as an extension of the playing experience. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see consoles disappear completely, cloud gaming is already shaking up the industry,” CNET’s Shelby Brown said.
Studies from other groups, like Global Market Insights, suggests cloud gaming will grow 30% by 2025, making it worth around $8 billion. “Over 60% of the users across the globe do not have access to computer systems that can handle demanding requirements of the AAA level games at acceptable quality. The cloud gaming model can allow companies to increase their profitability, gaining access to various new potential customers,” GMI said in its report.
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The widespread adoption of 5G technology is another potential nail in the coffin for the high-end gaming PC market. “As the cloud gaming technology requires high transmission speeds of over 10Mbps, the deployment of the 5G infrastructure serves as a key enabling factor,” IDG said.
Like enterprise SaaS products, cloud gaming delivers licensed software to a local machine over the internet, eliminating the need for high-end equipment to run resource-intense business software. Cloud deployments are predicted to dominate in 2021; whether this trend carries over into the gaming world remains to be seen.