PC gamers spent $4.5bn, equivalent to the defence budget of Denmark, on kit last year

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As a collective bunch, PC gamers in the US alone spent the equivalent of the defence budget of Denmark on hardware and assorted accoutrements in 2020. By dropping $4.5bn on our favourite hobby that represents a 62 percent increase over the previous year, which does partly explain why it's so damned hard to buy a graphics card right now. Because everybody wants to spend hard cash on new toys.

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Now, we all know that things happened in 2020 which made staying at home playing PC games a far more engaging prospect than in a supposedly normal year, but still seeing the statistics stacking up makes for fascinating reading. Well, for a PC nerd like me, anyways. 

The report comes from The NPD Group (via Guru3D), and highlights what massive growth PC gaming has had over the last 12 months. The biggest change came from people who are obviously spending more time at their machine and wanted to switch up the way they interact with the gaming PC. 

The amount of cash spent on accessories, such as gaming headsets and gaming keyboards, rose by a staggering 81 percent.

That obviously doesn't account for the full growth in revenue, with the actual amount spent on hardware specifically, so complete systems and components, went up by 57 percent alone.

It is worth noting that this is purely based on revenue, not actual units sold, so the release of high-priced parts, such as the Nvidia RTX 3080 and AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, and the lack of more affordable alternatives will have an impact here. But I would also suggest that most of that revenue growth likely came from people buying whole new gaming PCs and gaming laptops outright and not from the DIY upgrade market.

It's not a huge surprise that PC gaming as a hobby has grown, but I think the rate of growth maybe is. But NPD suggests part of that is down to the fact that it's the most accessible platform of all.

"PC gaming is the most innovative, open, and content-diverse segment in the video game industry. It is also one of the most accessible, as many households have a desktop or laptop computer," says Mat Piscatella, NPD's video game analyst. Which apparently is a job.

Though one other stat from the report has surprised us—the suggested growth in the actual number of PC gamers. Given the growth in revenue, and huge increase in the overall hours spent playing PC games, we had assumed that more and more people had come to the hobby, yet NPD claims that numbers only grew by 4 percent in 2020. 

It's just that everybody else was stuck indoors looking to buy something shiny and new too I guess.

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.