More consumers are now going online to purchase high-performance gaming PCs in India, according to Flipkart. In fact, demand for gaming PCs, especially laptops, has soared in India due to a growing interest in professional gaming and an increase in the availability of mid-tier products.
“The gaming PC category, specifically over the last two years, has grown more than 10x,” Adarsh K. Menon, Vice President and Head – Private Labels, Electronics and Furniture, Flipkart, told indianexpress.com in an interview”.
“This is a category or a range of products, where give or take is about 2x the average selling price of a normal PC. So if you just put those two things together, a product with a 2x price of a normal selling PC, which by itself is an expensive product for money to buy, has grown at over 10x in the last two years.”
Walmart-owned e-commerce platform Flipkart realised the potential of gaming PCs as a prominent category three years back. Menon recalls the company did a trendspotting exercise and it found that consumer searches on the platform for gaming machines were actually on the rise. The firm then did an internal study based on which it came to the conclusion that India and Flipkart were very “under indexed” in this category. “We obviously saw that there is an opportunity, and since then, we took a few concrete steps, and we are still very much early stages of the journey,” he adds.
The demand for gaming PCs is coming from small towns and tier-3 cities such as Barnala and Latur. Consumers in India’s lower-tier cities are young, have money, and access to the internet. For Menon, the time is right to tap in into the potential of this market segment.
“Flipkart is making a really good range of gaming PCs available to them at very affordable prices. So this is not a metro phenomenon. This is not a rich man phenomenon. This is not a youth phenomenon,” he said.
Menon said Flipkart delivered gaming PCs in over 1200 cities in the country in 2018. And prior to that year, it delivered gaming machines in over 500 cities in India. In the past year, the e-commerce platform has more than doubled the number of cities that gaming PCs in India have been distributed to and it continues to increase.
So who are buying gaming PCs? Traditionally, casual gamers, hardcore gamers and professional gamers are the core audience of gaming PCs. But lately, consumers who are “professional” but game “casually” are a potential audience of gaming PCs. Flipkart is clearly going after those customers to understand their needs and preferences.
Menon said this is an extremely rare customer, who understands the product and its functionality. This customer looks at the brand, specifications, internal components such as the graphics card, price and affordability options. “It’s a very high engagement category, because the community is one that behaves in that manner. The volume of reviews and ratings that we get on gaming laptops is one of the highest on Flipkart,” he explains.
‘The rise of gaming laptops’
The PC gaming market is massive, and sometimes confusing. Gamers can either build their own desktop as many gaming enthusiasts do, or else buy a laptop. Lately, major traditional PC makers like HP, Dell, Lenovo, MSI and Asus are pushing hard to sell gaming laptops to both gamers and regular users. The main advantages that gaming laptops bring include high-quality displays with better refresh rates and portability.
“Gamers really like good performing or higher performing desktop for gaming. But now you have notebook options, which are really thin and sleek with no compromise on performance,” says Prakash Mallya, Vice President and Managing Director, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel India. “We believe the best gaming experience is on a PC.”
Gaming laptops are usually expensive, though prices have come down drastically in the past few months. In India, prices range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 500,000, depending on the model, brand, and configuration.
The push towards gaming PCs from the industry comes at a time when the Indian PC market continues its slow growth path. The market witnessed a year-on-year drop of 8.3 per cent with shipments reaching 2.15 million units in Q1 2019, according to IDC’s Asia/Pacific Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.
Despite a cooling PC market, big OEMs are seeing a ray of hope in gaming PCs. The data provided by IDC shows that PC OEMs shipped an approximate 366,000 units of branded gaming PCs, which include laptops and desktops in India in 2018. In fact, the market for branded gaming PCs grew by 4 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.
According to IDC, gaming has shifted from desktops to notebooks in 2018 as gaming laptops grew by 123 per cent year-over-year in 2018 whereas gaming desktops suffered a decline of around 32 per cent in the same period. Gaming laptops now account for 50 per cent shipment of branded gaming PCs in 2018 as opposed to only 23 per cent in 2017.
But Bharath Shenoy, Market Analyst, Personal Computing Devices (PCD) at IDC India, says the reason for going for gaming PC is pure experience. “People who play on phones graduate to PCs and start playing graphics-heavy games along with these popular games,” says Shenoy. “The number of people graduating from casual gaming to the next level is increasing.”
“The gaming notebooks which used to be very expensive before are available at lower costs. The big ticket online sales give huge discounts on these devices and also easy EMIs. Hence, more people are ready to invest in a gaming PC,” he continues.
“At the end of the day, it’s a PC, which is a high-performance device. It’s also great for content consumption, like Netflix, etc. And that is the reason why we’re seeing increasing engagement and increasing numbers on Flipkart.” says Menon.
The popularity of esports has also helped spur the demand for gaming laptops in India. Brands like Asus and Alienware offer powerful notebooks designed for esports gaming. They cost more than regular gaming laptops, but feature top-of-the-line specifications with a serious GPU built-in.
The surge in sales of gaming PCs, especially laptops, in India tell a larger trend. As Mallya puts it: “India being one of the fastest growing affluent countries in the world means that if you look at younger people using the system a lot bigger screen device, if you look at feature phones, normal smartphones and smaller screen device, if they grow much more affluent, there is every reason to believe that they will demand a better gaming experience on a PC.”