Analyst Predicts Bright Future for PC Gaming Hardware

Jon Peddie Research has released a report pegging the total value of the PC gaming hardware market at some $27 billion in 2010, up from $20 billion in 2008. Currently, 'enthusiast' class hardware accounts for ~46 percent of that amount. JPR predicts that this will fall to 35 percent in 2013, but because that shift will occur in a growing industry, the total dollar value of hardware sales will grow from $9.5 billion in 2009 to $12.5 billion in 2013.

Ted Pollak, Video Game Industry Analyst for JPR, cites a number of influences for this phenomenon. "PC hardware has caught up to most of the software and people are able to play computationally intensive games on Performance level systems. Performance systems now even support high resolution for all but the most demanding simulations and FPS's. The frequency of Direct X updates is also driving some people toward mid-range GPU's. Some gamers are buying Performance GPUs at a higher refresh rate to engage the latest Direct X version, instead of a longer term investment for Enthusiast GPU's." (We're assuming that when Pollak refers to 'refresh rate', he's referring to the rate at which gamers replace their video card rather than the actual refresh rates the card can handle.)

And a chicken in every pot!

According to Jon Peddie himself, this market growth is driven by the appearance of hardware that couldn't be purchased for any price a few years ago. "gamers are ordering, building, and modding their rigs with components that just a few years ago were simply not available with any economy of scale. SSD's, water cooling, gaming mice and keyboards and other components have come to the Performance class and gamers are starting to snap them up. "

We're not willing to link the current availability of new technology as a special/unique causal factor in greater enthusiast expenditures—at least not across the board. It's a safe bet that SSDs will grow rapidly, but SSDs themselves appeal to everyone from office users to gamers; they may currently carry enthusiast-level prices, but their benefits are universal.

AMD has Eyefinity, NVIDIA has 3D, but neither company has demonstrated that their respective display technology is anything more than a niche product. Display manufacturers of all stripes want consumers to demand 3D; the mass market has yet to express an opinion. As far as computer monitors are concerned, AMD may have a bit of an advantage here; there are far more Eyefinity-capable displays on the market than there are 3D LCDs. Buyers who depend on a panel's color reproduction or clarity also might not be willing to drop money on a separate 3D display that can't match their current panel in those areas.

We'd like to put the question to you readers. Of all the potential "new" areas you might invest in, including SSDs, DX11, Eyefinity, 3D, water cooling, SLI/Crossfire, or high-end gaming peripherals, what are your top three—and what technologies do you not care about?