Research firm DFC Intelligence, in advance of its next brief looking at forecasts for the substantial expected growth of spending among core gamers across all major platforms, has shared some key points exclusively with GamesIndustry International. DFC has now raised its internal forecast for the global PC gaming market this year from $22 billion to $25 billion.
DFC analyst Jeremy Miller said that "core gamers seem to be willing to spend more money than ever." While Asia remains a big contributor to the market, interestingly DFC found that core PC gameplay in the West increased in 2013 versus 2012, and the firm expects 2014 to be strong as well.
"We thought with the lack of major new releases that overall usage would be down," said Miller. "However, the top titles of 2012 continued to do well in 2013 and new titles like Battlefield 4 and Total War: Rome II had solid performances." League of Legends remained the number one PC title in 2013, followed by Dota 2, which actually had the most growth in 2013. DFC said that new versions of popular sports titles like FIFA 2014 also did very well.
"We actually think the launch of the new console systems will help lift the PC game business because there is large overlap between console and PC gamers"David Cole
Free-to-play continues to be a huge factor in the PC games market's growth, but DFC found that upfront payments are working well too.
"The big surprise is that an upfront payment business model still seems to do very well. Dota 2 charged a $30 beta fee before going free-to-play and a great deal of people took advantage of that. So really we see a hybrid business model working where you can call it F2P but still charge upfront," explained DFC's David Cole.
"Also the traditional model where you charge a one-time fee is also very attractive....but again there is now a greater ability to upsell consumers after the initial purchase. We think this is a major driver of growth versus the pure free-to-play games."
The success of League of Legends and Dota 2 reinforces another trend DFC observed: the domination by MOBA titles. DFC noted that the MOBA genre is "far and away the largest because of those two games" whereas MMOGs are on the decline (see chart below) and first-person shooter games actually surpassed them on the PC in 2013.
Ultimately, the big trend to watch out for this year is the blurring of platforms between the new consoles and the PC.
"One of the big things to watch is the crossover between big console games and their PC release. GTA V releasing for PC will be one to watch if that occurs. Titanfall, Elder Scrolls Online and many other titles are being developed for both console and PC. So I think the biggest item of note is the synergy now between console and PC," Cole added.
"2013 was a slow year for releases on the PC in large part because developers were gearing up for new console systems. We actually think the launch of the new console systems will help lift the PC game business because there is large overlap between console and PC gamers and it becomes another platform for developers."
DFC estimates the addressable market for high-end gamers outside of Asia to be 285 million people. That is the target market for both PC and console gamers who overlap heavily.
The DFC Intelligence brief will be released on February 11 and will be available for free to readers of GamesIndustry International who signup here (be sure to check the box for GamesIndustry International).