Earlier this week, Jon Peddie Research announced three new market analysis reports detailing the PC Gaming Hardware make-up (PCs, peripherals, support hardware, etc.). Arguably the most important headline of JPR's work is that for the firs time...ever...the PC gaming hardware market exceeded $30 billion. That's a lot of dough!
Reflecting on this, we've been putting a lot of thought into virtual reality and the strategic importance of the PC market to virtual reality. Ever since the realistic numbers of PC VR HMD sales were realized (primarily limited by Moore's Law and early adopter cost), we are witnessing a trend where the VR market is assuming that mobile is the way to go for mass market growth. Yes, we agree that mobile has a mass market advantage. However, it doesn't yet reflect the content that got the industry truly excited about virtual reality in the first place. While it's promising and it's a way to get VR out there to a lot of people, it doesn't have the wow factor that PC had from the get-go; and consumers need to experience that wow factor for a long time to come.
In contrast, PC has a lot of room for growth and each sale is a very fruitful one. So what if there are only about 300,000 in sales across all PC VR platforms (that's our estimate)? Moore's Law is making upgrades more inexpensive with each passing year (provided the HMD makers don't increase the processing requirements), and this number will grow and grow provided the content is there and the marketing is handled properly.
Good PC content makers can charge more per game or experience than they ever would imagine on mobile. Would developers rather be in a market surrounded by thousands of dirt cheap apps and experiences with their amazing stuff buried in there somewhere, or would they rather be a big fish in a smaller pond making a real premium on each sale in a growing market? We'd go with the pond.
Finally, and this is from the point of view of the whole ecosystem, every VR sale is a good excuse for a new graphics card, an updated motherboard, new performance hardware, and more. PC VR sales benefit the whole ecosystem and they offer the most rewarding experience for the end user. Mobile VR sales primarily benefit the HMD seller and possibly the smartphone seller - and that's as far as their influence goes. Yes, the mobile VR content maker has a bigger potential reach...and more competitors to contend with as well.
The moral of the story is that just because something is mass market doesn't mean it's profitable, and the VR mass market hasn't even been achieved yet. With JPR Research's latest findings about the healthy growth of the PC gaming hardware market, we see potential for PC VR and a lot of it. We just have to be realistic with the sales numbers and play the long game.