Gaming & Virtual Reality – Mainstream, or Still Niche?
By Christian Riedl, Senior IT Marketing Consultant, GfK

Long considered as a hobby for children, nerds and social outcasts, Gaming now is perceived by the public in a much different way. Today, Gaming has evolved from a sideshow to mainstream, as it became a true (sub-) cultural phenomenon and multi-billion dollar business, with “Let’s Players” having millions of subscribers on YouTube, eSports-events filling huge arenas all over the world and professional gamers earning fortunes playing videogames. In this context, it was also the hardware industry that helped boost this development — an investment that is paying off more and more:

In 2016, the revenue of PC Gaming Peripherals (Mice, Keyboards, Headsets and Monitors) in Europe grew by very strong 36% year-on-year — a growth that is similarly apparent for Western and Eastern Europe — leaving the billion-dollar turnover mark far behind. But not only do Gaming products bring growth, value and higher margins to the table, they are also innovation drivers in mature and saturated European markets, paving the way for high performance technologies as well as cutting-edge design concepts. Hence it is not surprising at all, that those Gaming categories are getting more and more attention, when it comes to the product mix of almost every key player on the market.

Besides those rather traditional categories, Gaming also offers a stage for new devices that many believe to be the next big thing — Virtual Reality (VR).

VR has been a buzzword in the industry since the beginning of the decade, but 2016 finally witnessed the releases of major and long-awaited platforms such as the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive. Even though many consumers already were at least aware with Virtual Reality earlier (mainly via smartphone head mounts), it was the above-mentioned products that created the biggest hype and propelled the sales for virtual reality devices in Europe.

In 2016, Virtual Reality glasses generated total revenue of 148 Million Euro in the combined EU10 region, mainly driven by the big launches of Sony, Oculus and HTC in the second half of the year.

And even though content was still limited and prices were relatively high, it has become clear that the interest for Virtual Reality is still high and the potential of this technology should not be reduced to Gaming or Entertainment only. New platforms such as Google Daydream, plenty of Triple-A VR content announced for 2017, and the rapidly growing popularity 360° Cams and Drones could lift this category to the next level, so 2017 might truly become the breakthrough year for Virtual Reality — in the B2C and the B2B channel!

Source: GfK POS information panelmarket;
Jan. – Dec. 2016; YoY growth based on sales value