The PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) has revealed the findings of its third annual Horizons research report this week. Put together by research firm DFC Intelligence, the report tallies 2011 year-end PC game sales figures and offers some predictions about the industry through 2015.
According to the report, the global PC games market reached $18.6 billion, up 15 percent over 2010. All geographical markets remained stable, with some regions growing faster than others, but overall none showed any declines. China continued to show positive and strong growth with a 27 percent increase in 2011 and revenue of $6 billion. Regions such as Korea, Japan, U.S., U.K., and Germany also saw significant growth in 2011, with increased revenue of 11 percent in 2011 to the tune of $8 billion.
Investment in the PC Gaming space continued to be strong, with December IPOs of Zynga and Nexon valued at around $7 billion each. Zynga’s revenue in 2011 doubled to $1.1 billion – about the same as Nexon's. Both companies earned most of their revenue from free-to-play PC games with in-game micro transactions (though Zynga does have offerings on Apple's iOS and on Android). Online games company Bigpoint also managed to raise $350 million in 2011 as the company continued to expand outside its home territory.
Because of the focus on free-to-play and social gaming, the biggest investors in the PC games space came from large Asian companies. One of the most notable global success stories of 2011 was Chinese company Tencent’s majority acquisition of Riot Games for $400 million. Tencent launched Riot’s flagship F2P product in China in the summer of 2011, and by November of that year, Riot Games was claimed that it had over 11 million monthly active players. The report goes on to say that when the full numbers for 2011 have been released, it suspects that Tencent will have surpassed Activision Blizzard as the company that generates the most revenue from PC games.
2011 also saw a number of AAA big budget game launches that generated strong sales, driven by digital distribution. Releases worth noting include Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Sports games from Electronic Arts and Konami (soccer titles) also found strong sales on the PC.
Looking ahead, the report predicts that the PC games industry will see growth of 37 percent and reach $25.5 billion by 2015. This growth will be fueled by more readily available access to broadband and digital distribution.
The PCGA is a not-for-profit consortium dedicated to PC gaming lead by leaders in the software and hardware industry. You can read the press release here (PDF).