A new report from the Open Gaming Alliance, a non-profit organization, reveals that the core PC gaming demographic is on a rapid incline, showing exponential growth over the next couple of years. A large part of that is thanks to the savior of PC gaming, Gabe Newell and the easy-to-use digital distribution platform, Steam, along with the growing accessibility of core freemium titles like DotA 2 and League of Legends.
The OGA report was compiled by the highly reputable market research firm DFC Intelligence. They’ve been monitoring and estimating changing climates in the software industry and gaming market for many years, and doing so with startling accuracy.
According to DFC Analyst David Cole…
“Much of the growth is driven by pure demographics. We continue to identify a core group of consumers for whom playing on the PC is a major pastime,” … “This is, in fact, a fairly new demographic that skews highly male and is only increasing in buying power.”
I wouldn’t say this is a new demographic, I would say it’s a demographic that’s continuing to grow through the phases of each gaming generation.
With platforms like GOG, Steam and to a lesser extent, Origin, PC gaming is no longer about extended, expanded and config.sys tinkering, but about buying a game, downloading it and playing it. It’s actually easier, simpler and faster to buy a game from Steam than to pirate it. Really.
There’s a chart showing the rate of growth for PC gaming measured against mobile and the home consoles that you can check out below.
Phones and tablets are always on the rise (just because just about everyone has one and free-to-play games are as accessible as ever on them) but they aren’t a core or dedicated platform for gaming. In fact, several years ago back in 2012 DFC Intelligence and PricewaterhouseCooper had reports that indicated that mobile gaming sales trends didn’t look to kill off home console or core PC gaming.
According to Cole…
“In past years much of the growth in PC games has been due to adoption of the platform in Asia. Now we are estimating a potential 86 million PC gamers outside Asia that we have targeted as market growth drivers,” … “These are the consumers that are driving spending not just on software, but also on PC hardware, as they buy expensive equipment to play, view and record games.”
This coincides with the growth of live-streaming through services like Twitch.tv and YouTube. The massive expanse of Let’s Plays has made people like Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, multi-millionaires just by playing games in front of a computer screen.
OGA board member Matt Ployhar also chimed in about the continued growth of the hardcore PC market, saying…
“The recipe that keeps PC gaming on top is simple: the platform is accessible to all markets, and especially so with the free-to-play and freemium content; the hardware continues to evolve with gamers’ lifestyles, offering more choice and freedom; and, due to the ubiquity of PC’s globally, it’s easier to share, communicate and be more sociable with friends and family. These same factors, in part, also help explain the meteoric rise of eSports.”
Also, to break it down even more simply: hardcore gamers love competitive games. They want to play and have fun. It’s why a game like DotA 2 can shell out $10 million in earnings in top tournaments like The International, according to eSportsearnings.com. It’s also why games like League of Legends is as frustrating as it is addictive and it’s why Counter-Strike and Call of Duty continue to grow and maintain their audiences despite the trolling, complaints and oftentimes repetitive natures of the core gameplay.
Hardcore gaming never left, it was just waylaid from its potential growth when things like disc-locked content and pre-order DLC came into the picture, as well as the stalled growth of the software market when the Xbox 360 and PS3 hogged up a lot of attention for nearly a decade with low-res graphics and sub-20fps gameplay (I’m looking at you GTA V). Things are finally starting to shift and move in the proper way now that Steam has captured an audience of more than 125 million registered users and the ease-of-use of PCs is now about on par to the average living room console.
As turbulent as the times are in the world of computer gaming, what with #GamerGate happening and all, it’s still a great time to be a gamer.