The Convergence of Immersive and Competitive Gaming Pushes Hadware’s boundaries
The global games market is booming across all segments and regions of the world. Mobile gaming continues to expand, console gaming shows accelerated growth, and video streaming and esports have transformed PC gaming into cross-media entertainment. The global games market will top $116 billion in software revenues this year, up more than 10% year on year. Gaming hardware systems and gaming peripherals will generate at least another $23 billion. As reported recently, hardware has become an integral part of gaming culture and the most profitable segment for its manufacturers.
The latest trends in PC gaming are pushing hardware requirements to the next level. Competitive games have become the norm and are merging skill-based multiplayer gameplay with the immersive experience of originally single-player titles. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege are three examples of games that are stretching the capabilities of the platform on which they are played, requiring many gamers to upgrade their gear.
Using Newzoo’s PC Gaming Hardware Tracker, we examine how this plays out for various titles and hardware brands. Of the 20+ technical specs tracked, GPU adoption is obvious to investigate. Secondly, we dive into the minimum specifications required to play these games to see how many players meet them and the opportunities this provides to the various parties involved. Finally, we look at how individual laptop brands perform among gamers who play games with different hardware requirements.
NEW LEVEL OF REQUIREMENTS SET BY COMPETITIVE AND IMMERSIVE GAMES
Recent releases, such as PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and Battlefield 1, require high-end PC components to play. PUBG, for example, requires a GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM, according to official channels, while co-shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is playable with 512MB of VRAM. Minimum specs are also increasing within franchises over time. The original World of Warcraft released in 2003, for example, asked for 32MB of VRAM, while the latest Legion expansion requires at least 512MB of VRAM. Recommended specs set way higher targets. PUBG recommends a GeForce GTX 1060 or higher as Nvidia GPU, for instance. For games that are both highly competitive and immersive, meeting recommended specs is more important, as the choice of GPU impacts not only the visual experience but the accuracy that is crucial in fast-moving shooter games.
While the GTX 1060 is more than enough to run games at maximum settings in 1080p, we also see a steady growth in the Nvidia 1070 and 1080 cards, driven by the need for maximum GPU power. Gamers are looking at higher resolutions of 1440p and 4K for a more immersive experience, where a 1060 is no longer enough to run the game at the desired 60 frames per second (FPS). Additionally, competitive gaming has created a need for higher FPS to maximize accuracy. Where 60 FPS used to be the ultimate goal, gamers are now looking for 120 FPS or more for games like Counter-Strike, Overwatch, and Dota 2.
Data from Newzoo’s PC Gaming Hardware Tracker shows that the Nvidia GTX 1070 is already quite popular among core PC gamers who play on desktop in the U.S., with 11.1% using it in October and growing with a rate of +4.8% since July. The 1080, though not used as much (6.8%), grew with a rate of almost +14%.
The adoption rates to newer generations of high-end GPUs vary significantly among players of different games. The growth rate in market share of the GeForce 1060 is +18.1% among PUBG players, compared to only +11.5% among World of Warcraft (WoW) players. The same goes for the GTX 1080, which grew twice as fast among PUBG players (+10.7%), compared to WoW players (+5.4%) from July to October. We see the opposite effect with 900-series cards. Among WoW players, the market share of the 970 dropped with a rate of -2.6%. This was -11.9% for PUBG players. These numbers are almost identical for the 960, indicating that players of graphically intense games get rid of older cards much faster than players of less demanding games. Even the decline of the older GeForce 660, which is minimally required to play PUBG properly, is twice as fast among PUBG players (-22.4%) compared to WoW players (-10.2%).
WHO IS PLAYING BELOW SPECS AND WHO COULD BE PLAYING?
While most core gamers are upgrading their PC components to play the latest games, not all players adhere to this rule. Our tracker shows that 10.1% of core desktop PC gamers in the U.S. who played PUBG on their desktop in October do not meet the minimum requirements to properly play the battle royale title. This share rises to 20% if laptops are also considered. In comparison, 7.7% of American Battlefield 1 desktop players do not meet the minimum requirements. Among WoW desktop players, only 5.6% play it under the minimum specs. Russia has the highest share of PUBG gamers playing under the minimum requirements, with 21.8%, compared to 14.0% for Battlefield 1 and only 5.6% for World of Warcraft. When taking recommended specs as a starting point, the share of gamers who would benefit from upgrading their GPU increases enormously. The majority of PUBG players actually plays below recommended specs, even in the U.S. This share hovers at around 25% for American League of Legends or WoW players.
The relatively large share of PUBG players who are playing the game below minimum (or recommended) requirements is largely due to the immense popularity of the game in recent months. It entered our Most Played Core PC Games Rankingin May at #7, after which it broke into the almost impenetrable top five. On the flipside, 77.5% of desktop PC gamers in the U.S. who don’t play PUBG could play the game based on the minimum requirements. In Scandinavian countries like Sweden, this percentage is close to 80%. This is a big opportunity for Bluehole Studio to reach an even larger audience by targeting this group. The remaining 22.5% of American non-PUBG players lack the minimum specs to play. This type of analysis assists in prioritizing marketing partnerships between hardware brands and publishers.
WHAT LAPTOP BRAND SERVES WHAT GAME BEST?
For the most part, PUBG is played on desktop. When looking at Sweden, more than 97% of PUBG players played the game on a desktop in October. In Central and Eastern European countries, a relatively large share plays it on a (gaming) laptop. In both Austria and Czech Republic, 21% played PUBG on a laptop in October, while this share in the U.S. is 14%. League of Legends players are more likely to play on laptop, with 25% in the U.S., as the game has lower specifications.
Laptop brands used by these different player groups also vary. While ASUS laptops are used most by both PUBG and League of Legends gamers, PUBG players are more likely to use gaming laptop brands. In the U.S., 17.5% of PUBG laptop players played the game on an MSI laptop, followed by Alienware with 15.1%. For League of Legends players, HP and Dell take second and third place with usage rates of 16.9% and 12.2%, respectively.