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Gaming set to take off with consoles and ‘cocooning’

Gaming has seen a massive upswing in the last two years and projected international trends indicate a growth of 25 to 30% over the next few years. This is partly a result of a wider range of gaming consoles and partly because people are looking to stay indoors – cocooning – more, says CORRINNE BRITZ, Multimedia and Entertainment Buyer at Incredible Connection.

Corrinne Britz, Multimedia and Entertainment

Buyer at Incredible Connection

People are looking to stay indoors more, which makes gaming an attractive recreational alternative. While this contributes to the significant uptake of gaming we have seen in South Africa also, the introduction of more consoles is certainly playing its part.

Previously, consoles were limited to PC-based gaming and high-definition machines such as the Sony PlayStation. Consumers can now choose from seven different platforms. The range is simply that much bigger and consumers are no longer forced into a particular platform that might not quite hit the mark in terms of their preferences or habits.

The move away from PC gaming towards console-based systems is also ensuring greater involvement from the whole family. This level of interactivity can be enjoyed in the lounge or family room, whereas PC gaming is often confined to the gamers’ bedroom or study. This introduces a whole new social element to gaming.

While console-based gaming is still growing significantly in South Africa, hand-held platforms, however, find greater appeal in the US and European markets. This can be attributed to the number of people who make use of public transport systems and so find entertainment value while sitting on a train or a bus.

In South Africa, the handheld market is comparatively small. Our own sales do show an increase of the PlayStation Portable over school holidays, for example, but it is still an aspirational purchase.

The introduction of the Nintendo Wii has also altered the dynamics in the gaming market. Both PC-based and console gaming still finds appeal with ‚hard and fast’ gamers, people who typically purchase the latest games on the day of release and also want the latest technology. These users tend to opt for the Xbox, PS3 and similar high-definition machines.

All in the family with Nintendo’s Wii

The Nintendo Wii has opened up a new market for the casual gamer, who might want to play for a short while. It is also less complicated than some of the other consoles and is finding appeal with a wider audience.

The Nintendo DS (Double Screen) is also expected to shake up the hand-held market. The console is similar to the Wii in that gamers can get more involved. It also signifies a move towards games becoming increasingly interactive and more realistic.

Market research shows that gamers are still mostly males between 25 and 45, and typically have the cash available for all the bells and whistles.

Our consumers are still keen on high definition consoles and prepared to spend on games. While this space has been fairly restrictive in the past, appealing to core gamers, this mould is being broken by the arrival of many more options. We are certainly also trying to appeal to a different consumer than those looking for a laptop or PC card, and so make the purchasing experience more fun and interactive.

While Xbox remains the biggest seller, 30% of Incredible Connections’ console sales are coming from the Wii. The range of games has grown extensively and we have noted a significant uptake of the peripherals available for the Wii games.

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