Not-for-profit organisation the PC Gaming Alliance and market research firm DFC Intelligence have published their annual PC gaming report, suggesting that the global PC games market saw a record $18.6 billion in revenue during 2011.
As part of its Horizons report, PCGA noted that this figure represents 15 percent growth
for the sector year-over-year, with no geographical market showing a decline during the year.
China in particular grew by nearly twice the rate of the overall global market for PC games, stated the report, with growth of 27 percent to $6 billion year-over-year.
PCGA noted that the growing free-to-play space contributed to "much of the growth" during the year, and highlighted a number of companies who contributed greatly to the rapid growth worldwide, including free-to-play companies such as Zynga, Bigpoint and Riot Games.
It also noted big-name releases such as Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
, while sports games showed "surprisingly strong sales" on PC over the course of the year.
Matt Ployhar, PCGA president and Intel analyst, explained, "While reports of gaming sales at retail show signs of struggle, the impact hasn’t been as great for PC Gaming, which had an earlier adoption of newer formats, business-models and delivery with digital distribution, free-to-play and subscriptions fueling PC gaming's strong global growth."
He continued, "Valve's market-leading Steam digital distribution service now reports over 40 million users, and traditional retailers are following suit by investing in this space more heavily such as GameStop’s acquisition of the Impulse digital distribution service. Not only investment dollars, but real revenue and profits, are now being generated solely from purely digital business models, formats, and delivery."
Looking to the future, the report suggests that the PC gaming market will grow by 37 percent to $25.5 billion by 2015, thanks to "the increasing ease of digital distribution delivery solutions and payment methods on a global basis."