The PC Gaming Alliance says the global PC games market grew to over $18 billion in 2011.
Yes, the PC Gaming Alliance is still a thing and so is PC gaming, according to a new "Horizons" report put together for the PCGA by research firm DFC Intelligence. The market showed "surprisingly strong" year-over-year growth of 15 percent in 2011, achieving a record value of $18.6 billion. China led the way with 27 percent growth, accounting for $6 billion in revenue all on its own, while the U.S., U.K., Japan, Korea and Germany, despite being "mature markets," collectively posted 11 percent growth overall with revenues totaling $8 billion.
Much of the revenue growth came from expected sources. Zynga and Nexon each pulled in about $1.1 billion for the year, primarily from PC games, while free-to-play proved to be another major source of income, particularly in Asia. But while the rise of F2P has led to many predictions of the death of the subscription model, the PCGA report singles out Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic as games that have "enjoyed very strong sales." Other big PC success stories include Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and "sports games" from EA and Konami.
But the real savior of the market, which should come as no surprise, is the advent of digital distribution. "The PC Gaming juggernaut continues unabated across the industry and geographic boundaries. 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," said PC Gaming Alliance President Matt Ployhar.
"For example, 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," he continued. "Not only investment dollars, but real revenue and profits, are now being generated solely from purely digital business models, formats, and delivery."
The PC's future looks pretty bright, too: The "Horizons" report predicts that widening broadband coverage and improvements to digital delivery platforms and global payment methods will push the PC gaming market value to $25.5 billion by 2015.