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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

It helps that major technology manufacturers are beginning to see gaming moving from a peripheral niche interest to the core of their business. 

Acer, with its Predator and Helios brands, says it understands the need to offer affordable, quality devices in a receding economic climate, as key to growing the gaming segment. Primarily, though, it is dedicated to helping its customers “dominate rivals with gaming features that give gamers an overwhelming advantage,”.

Dell’s Alienware range and HP’s Omen computers have a similar intent. All three computer makers, however, understand that it is a growing niche that will help save the overall PC market.

“We see gaming as one of the core elements of our PC business,” says David Rozzio managing director of HP South Africa.” We relaunched our gaming strategy, launched Omen by HP, and developed a portfolio that can serve different kinds of gamers.

“We started from scratch three years ago to build a $1-billion segment worldwide. The market is supporting that, because it is growing overall worldwide, and we see big trends in terms of big events bringing in both spectator gamers and enthusiast gamers, who have grown gaming on PC to a $9-billion business across all manufacturers. People tend to see gaming as a console play, but the biggest size of market is in PC gaming.”

HP expects the South Africa gaming industry to reach a value of R3.6-billion next year. Ironically, increases in the price of petrol and import duties are seen as a contributor, since more people will have to stay home and play games. Consoles play a major role in that market, with PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo dominating that market.

“When it comes to casual gaming, there is close to a 50/50 split between PCs and consoles. On the more competitive side, it is 85% PC and 15% console. As gamers progress from casual to competitive, or casual to hard core, PC is where it’s at.”

HP is a major sponsor of esports globally, and Rozzio says it is looking for a team to support in South Africa, as well as supporting esports in general.

“Esport in South Africa is still in its infancy, it’s still a very small market, and we need to inject more support into this industry, develop it, and use local teams to make it grow. We are looking for links to our values, what we aspire to in the market, and sponsor the best team as well as diversity and inclusion. It is part of our DNA and part of our values.” 

Rozzio believes that, despite being so new to the gaming market, HP already has around a 20% share of the PC gaming sector, and is growing that share. Its consumer PC sales grew 150% in the past year, and its gaming segment has been growing in tandem. Given that it has a 28% market share in PCs generally, it sees big business growth in gaming machines.

What happens next in esports will also help drive sales of gaming machines. And the biggest thing of all could be the Olympic Games.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) convened in July this year to debate a potential roadmap to bring esports into the Olympics,” says Rozzio. 

“It’s early days, and we’re certainly some years away from a firm commitment, but the IOC is intently watching the rise of esports with an open mind. But if the global growth of esports continues at its current pace, the question may one day be: Will esports allow traditional Olympic sports to share its even larger spectator platform?”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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