Micro Center sees surge in gaming PC sales

Thank the popularity of esports.

Wikimedia Commons via Giesige.27. Click for original.
(Image: © Wikimedia Commons via Giesige.27)

A popular computer parts and electronics chain in the United States is seeing a spike in gaming PC sales, and it gives partial credit to the growing popularity of esports for the uptick.

That chain is Micro Center, the go-to place for picking up PC parts that oftentimes sell for less than they do online at places like Newegg and Amazon. The caveat is that the tantalizing prices are typically in-store only, and Micro Center only operates 25 stores in 16 states across the U.S. In comparison, Best Buy has nearly 1,400 stores.

Despite its comparatively small footprint, Micro Center's vice president Kevin Jones says the chain has seen its sales of gaming PCs grow 25-30 percent on-year in 2016, and 200 to 300 percent from a year ago, Digitimes reports. He expects more of throughout 2017.

Part of the success is due to esports events. Jones considered PC gaming a niche market as recent as five years ago, but says that esports has put it on the map in a big way. Combined with mid-range prices on gaming PCs, Jones says the market really ballooned in 2016.

He also credits the growth to being able to absorb customers from smaller retailers that closed down due to competition. Along with tight partnerships with brand vendors, Micro Center's sales have climbed to $60 million per year.

This is not a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Even market research firms that typically post gloom and doom scenarios for the PC market are noticing the impact of gaming PCs. Gartner, for example, predicts that gaming PCs with grow from 6 million units in 2016 to 8.7 million units in 2020, and will account for 13 percent of consumer PC shipments.

Gartner isn't alone here. A report from Jon Peddie Research (JPR) earlier this year showed that PC gaming hardware jumped past the $30 billion mark for the first time ever in 2016. Prior to that report, JPR figured the $30 billion threshold wouldn't be reached until 2018, so the market for PC gaming hardware is growing faster than expected.