The gaming accessories market continues its ascent, with 76 million units shipped worldwide in 2018, according to the Gaming Headsets and Accessories report from research firm Futuresource Consulting. This represents an increase of 22 per cent on 2017, generating a retail value of $3.1 billion from a combination of headsets, speakers, keyboards and mice.
“Gaming headsets remain the most popular product, accounting for almost half of all gaming accessories revenues last year, as use-cases appeal to both console and PC gamers equally,” says Luke Pearce, Research Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “This recent growth has been driven largely by the huge surge in popularity of the Battle Royale game genre, headed up by Fortnite and PUBG, which saw both new and existing player-bases buying into the market, pushing sales up by 35 per cent in units and even more in value.”
2018’s headset growth won’t be repeated this year, with Futuresource forecasts pointing to a minor decline in volumes for 2019 due to cyclical hardware trends for games consoles. With next-generation consoles anticipated to be released next year, consumers are holding back on new headset purchases. However, much of the decline will be offset by a strong gaming PC hardware market and a rapid increase in demand for competitive gaming on mobile.
APAC is the only area likely to experience growth this year, as esports is continuing to drive increases in popularity for PC and mobile gaming. The region will overtake Western Europe to become the second largest in volume terms, behind North America, although it remains comparatively low in terms of retail value.
Improvements in both hardware and mobile infrastructure will continue to boost mobile gaming, especially in emerging markets like China. Its popularity, helped by its convenience, cost and accessibility, is expected to further increase over the forecast period and directly benefit the gaming headset market as consumers seek competitive advantages through improved communication and audio experiences.
“Moving forward, we expect continued strong growth in the market throughout our forecast period,” says Pearce. “Gaming headsets compatible with mobile devices are a key driver of volumes, especially in developing regions, and will account for around one in eight purchases by 2023. Next-generation consoles, tipped for release in 2020, will also continue to propel the market forward. With all this activity, gaming headsets are on track to achieve solid long-term growth in volumes out to 2023.”
The gaming speakers segment grew 7 per cent in shipments last year, buoyed by overall growth in gaming and dominated by Razer, Logitech and Creative. In terms of value, speakers remain small in comparison to other accessories, as it is in direct competition with computer speakers and the growing success of gaming headsets. Similar growth levels are expected for gaming speakers in 2019. The US takes the largest revenue share, due to a combination of the size of its addressable audience, a high average selling price and a larger than average physical space dedicated to entertainment.
“As increasing numbers of gaming setups feature multiple screens, the lack of space to fit rear speakers has fuelled the demand for soundbars,” says Pearce. “This presents an opportunity for vendors. Soundbars can fit under screens. They are compact and powerful, as well as featuring advanced connectivity and virtual surround sound technology, making them more appealing for immersive gameplay.”
The market for gaming mice and keyboards will also continue to grow, increasing in units by 13 per cent and 11 per cent respectively in 2019. While the APAC region accounts for the largest volumes, North America and Western Europe both generate more retail value, due to a number of low-cost products in APAC’s two biggest gaming markets, China and South Korea.