PC Gaming rather than fading away in the face of rising popularity of console or smartphone gaming, seems to have only picked up as a growth trend. Today, the community size that indulges in PC gaming is growing and this can also be attributed to spectacular advances in the assortment of technologies that make up the PC gaming experience, from displays to powerful processing abilities of new age PCs.
Although the overall PCs/Laptops volume has stabilized in last two years owing to macroeconomic fluctuations and growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, but this year, the revival of PC market growth is expected. As per Industry Estimates, 2016 will witness a rebound of the PC market in the Middle East with demand coming from both- the first time buyers and also those consumers who seek to upgrade their existing machines. However, Gaming is going to be a serious driver for this PC market growth revival.
In a hypothetical estimate, if we take into consideration the specific market of hardcore gamers which demand extremely high technical specifications with a MSRP above AED 8000, then we can roughly calculate a sale of 300-400 units per month across the Middle East region. This shows a great market demand for gaming based PCs.
Mahiuddin Khasru, Sub Regional Head, ASUS expressed his views and said, “Looking at the bigger picture, there is a definite greater demand for those consumers who seek products with relatively mainstream specifications which also include gaming features or gaming grade graphics. The sale of these products which ranges above AED 4000 is easily 20 times bigger or even more. Further with the average selling price (ASP) of gaming devices coming down, they are becoming more affordable and accessible to users who want power and performance for applications other than gaming.”
Khasru also added, “The year on year growth of these gaming PC/Laptops which are definitely reaching double digits, is the precise reason why brands believe in and are thus investing heavily in this segment.”
Vineeth Sebastien, Regional Sales Director –MEA at AOC commented, “The gaming market in this region is evolving very fast. With the renewed interest in gaming in the region fueled by Increasing broadband penetration and the connectivity of more Arab youth to the internet, coupled with latest technology advancements in PC gaming and the availability in local and international game titles in Arabic language is expected to take the market to next level soon. Looking at all these positives, we certainly believe the outlook is quite bright.”
Omar Fakhri, Head of Sales Middle East & Africa, AMD, “Industry is showing huge change Indeed the consumers in the Middle East region are showing great interest in the gaming domain. In the region we are also expecting a great upsurge of PC Gaming to become a popular source of entertainment among people of all ages.”
PC Upgrades: Depending on their needs and requirements users are going in for either replacement or up gradation of their machines that is translating in increasing the demand in the gaming segment.
“Consumers are getting more and more hungry for new, faster and latest technologies that enhance their gaming experience to a complete new level,” believes AOC’s Sebastian, he further added, “We are experiencing an increased appetite of users for higher refresh rates, curved monitors and bigger screen sizes.”
Curved Display and Monitor Size: Commenting on a visible consumer demand, Sebastian said, “Increased screen size is always a demand. As the price gap narrows down between screen sizes, higher screen sizes become the standard. Curved display also has generated lot of traction in the market.”
The Professional Gaming: While professional gaming in Middle East hasn’t yet reached the levels of East Asia, Europe or North Africa, one cannot deny the indefinite growth observed in the region. While believing in the potential of professional gaming, Khasru of Asus stated, “The recent ESL ELSEA’S Counter Strike event which offered the top prize of $100,000 is a prime example of that. The event which was hosted in Dubai last year attracted a large target audience and millions of viewers. In an effort to contribute to this growth of professional gaming, we at ASUS are sponsoring numerous tournaments in the Middle East region.”
“For 2016, we have forecasted a figure of around 4.6M million units for the ‘’in- country’’ consumption of branded NB/DT/AIO PC all across Gulf countries including UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, KSA and Qatar.” Khasru of Asus also said, “With a greater volume of trade business occurring in the Gulf region, which is challenging to monitor and record, it can potentially drive the total volume up by another 50%.”
Online gaming or e-sports is latest buzz word among gaming enthusiasts. “We witness e-sports as a next big opportunity in the MEA region. More and more people in developed countries are showing interest in e-Sports, this interest in visible in gaming cafes and gaming parlors. We expect this trend to soon enter into UAE region as well,” says Fakhri of AMD.
While elaborating about the channel engagement activities of AOC, Sebastian said, “The objective of our partner programme is to support channel partners and provide them the extra edge that makes a difference between bidding and winning a deal. Our channel partner programme is extremely easy to join and easy to follow. All the parameters are kept simple, which helps channel partners to adhere to the programme and utilise the benefits of our programme easily. Moreover, we keep flexibility to incorporate the feedback from our partners to improvise the channel partner programme if need be. The programme should update the partner regularly and provide one stop solutions to its requirements, be it product updates, marketing collateral, training, technical, and so on.”
Khasru of ASUS elaborated the channel activity of his organization and said, “Our primary focus over the past two years has been greatly in the UAE, KSA and Qatar. We have developed and implemented a plan that engages us more with key resellers accounts and power retailers. In 2016, we intend to further enhance this plan by expanding to even more Gulf countries and try to set up in-country engagements with established local partners. With this strategic plan in place, we are hopeful that by the end of 2016, ASUS will have marked definite impact and reach across the entire GCC region. Keeping this expansion in mind, we have estimated a 20% growth in sales from the other GCC countries apart from the UAE and KSA.”
While elaborating the difference between conventional channel and gaming oriented channels, “We acknowledge the fact that those consumers who are looking for gaming PCs rely or seek guidance from specific reputed retailers/channels/media/social groups and forums. These “influencers’’ have established themselves an expertise which they use to sell their credible recommendations. The platforms also provide in depth analysis and guidelines on the extensive gaming product and portfolio. Having a direct access to these channels, the gaming consumers enjoy the advantage to have an independent comparison, do a survey and enjoy a real demonstration,” Khasru of Asus commented, “ASUS recognizes the potential opportunity for this growing market and this is why we collaborate with these platforms to ensure that our products especially our ASUS ROG line have the optimized reach in the market.”
While informing about AMD’s vision towards channels specially around gaming industry segment, Fakhri said, “Gaming is an important vertical for our business. We have specialised channels for gaming and we continue to enable them with best in class products. We are committed towards gaming market and are set to introduce new products in the segment. In addition, we also experience virtual reality as a major trend which can transform the entire gaming market. We are keen on taking such opportunities closer to channels so that they can leverage these big market opportunities.”
AOCs new premium gaming product series is named “AGON” and the AGON monitors are expected to be available starting July/Aug time frame. All future AOC gaming product releases will be under the AGON name. AGON will also encompass AOC’s future gaming-related activities and social media voice. “Some of AOC’s existing gaming displays, previously grouped together with other products, will be rebranded under AGON. We do expect the AGON gaming series of monitors will be well received by the users in the region,” informed Sebastian of AOC.
While giving a glimpse about the new product announcements, Sebastian also said, “We will soon have the “QHD 144Hz” monitor with sizes 23.8 & 27 inch, also for the curved 144Hz monitors we have amazing models such as (AG 242FC 23.6”), (AC 272FC 27”) and (AG 342UC 34”), and for the Large monitors we have the V Line with size 40 inch’s such as (C4008VH8) & (C400VU8).”
AMD’s GPU & Polaris Architecture
According to Mercury Research’s latest GPU market report, revealing that in Q1 2016 where overall graphics unit volumes declined by 10.2 per cent sequentially, AMD gained discrete GPU market share (29.4 per cent, +3.2 share points q-to-q).
According to Mercury Research, factors in this surge are the strength of the latest RadeonR9 Series GPUs as well as AMD’s revitalized driver development strategy, helping the company gain 1.8 share points in desktop discrete graphics (22.7 per cent, +1.8 share points q-to-q) and an impressive 7.3 share point jump in notebook discrete, moving to 38.7 per cent share of this important market.
“With AMD’s next generation Polaris Architecture-based 14nm discrete graphics products expected this quarter, AMD believes it clearly has solid momentum in discrete graphics.” Khasru of AMD stated.
ASUS ROG Series:
ASUS take great pride in our line of ROG products which spans from DIY gaming components such as graphic cards, motherboard, RAM, storage units, as well as an extensive collection of gaming desktops, gaming accessories and gaming laptops. “Basically we provide solutions to anything related to PC Gaming. Describing the ROG range of products, Khasru also said, “Depending on the product specifics, the price varies from AED 3999 to AED 19,999. ASUS ROG is constantly striving to break through the gaming market to deliver products which fulfill the growing demands of our gaming consumers.” However, the latest ROG product offerings include:
ROG GX700, the world’s first liquid-cooled gaming laptop. It is designed to give you the hardcore gamers with the overclocking potential to push the limits with extreme gaming desktops. GX700 features Windows 10 Home, an overclockable Intel Mobile K-SKU processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX980 a desktop graphics card, and upto 64 GB DDR4 RAM to give gaming fans desktop-like power at home, and ultra-performance on-the-go.
ROG STRIX GL502, that stands out for being conveniently compact and incredibly potent. It allows the gaming users to experience unmatched performance with 6th-generation Intel Corei7 quad-core processor combined with a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX970M graphics with full Microsoft DirectX 12 support. The latest hardware offers efficient, powerful performance for heavy gaming or productive multitasking such as live streaming and video editing. With a profile measuring just 23.5mm and tipping the scales at a lightweight 2.2kg, ROG Strix GL502 has an ultra-portable design that makes it remarkably portable.
While PC gaming is a growth segment, it is still only a small percentage of the overall PC market. However, due to the higher ASP of high-end gaming PCs,the sell out profitability is better than the entry or mid-level PCs and is therefore a segment that the channel can benefit from.