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By 20 July 2018 | Categories: news

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Video gaming is a R100 million industry in South Africa. But who are the people behind all those keyboards, mice and controllers?  A new study, commissioned by Alienware, lifted the lid on South Africa's PC gaming scene, how long they play and what hardware they use.

Over a third of South African gamers consider themselves as mainstream, but roughly the same number play games daily and a fifth of them play for between 6 and 10 hours. Where do they find the time? Many of the more hardcore gamers can play from 6pm to midnight.

These are some of the findings by Clockwork Media. Polling gamers through mailing campaigns, focus groups and at the rAge gaming expo, the research paints an interesting picture about PC gamers in the country.

“Gaming isn’t just a hobby - for many it’s a lifestyle,” said Chris Buchanan, Chris Buchanan Dell Client Solutions Director for Southern Africa. “But even that’s a simplification. This research shows that PC gamers vary a lot and have different things that ignite their passion. But they also all care about the same things, such as a new graphics card and the promotion of esports. I don’t think that such a comprehensive look at local PC gamers has ever been done and it is amazing to finally peek into this growing culture.”

A quarter of gamers regarded themselves at a hardcore level, including those with pro-gaming aspirations. eSports is growing in popularity and a third of gamers support specific esports teams. But many more follow esports and complain that not enough happens to bring esports closer to gamers in the country.

Most gamers play daily, and nearly a quarter play 2 to 4 times every week. Only 10% put in an hour or less per session, but who wants to play for only an hour?

What’s in the box?

Desktops are by far the most popular gaming rig: nearly 80% of gamers use desktops, while around 10% use laptops and the same number use both. Cementing the desktop supremacy, 90% of PC gamers prefer to play on a desktop.

Custom rigs are also the most popular, because more than half of gamers consider customising components as very important. Roughly two-thirds of gaming rigs are custom built, but prebuilt systems have a sizable presence, with Alienware and MSI as the preferred brands there.

No surprises with the components: graphics cards are by far (91%) considered the most important, then the CPU (78%), and motherboard and RAM at roughly 40% each.

Headphones and mice are the most popular peripherals, followed by gaming keyboards. Fewer than 40% said they don’t care about the brand, while nearly 60% of gamers only replace a peripheral once it breaks. But 20 percent will replace their peripherals every one to two years.

The biggest reason why most gamers don’t have the rigs they want? Budget: 60% said the cost is what keeps their systems back. More than half consider R15 000 to R20 000 as a good price for a gaming PC, while 10% will spend between R40 000 and R50 000.

"I'm not surprised to learn that PC gamers are prudent buyers," said Andreas Hadjipaschali, CEO of Bravado Gaming. "A gaming PC is an investment that a player will look after and keep improving. We spend a lot of time with our rigs, so we're always looking for high quality components and configurations that will keep us at the leading edge of gaming performance. Every frame per second counts!"

Where the wild gamers roam

How do local gamers decide what to buy? It turns out more than half do both their research and shopping online. Those choices are overwhelmingly informed by Youtube, which is the preferred source of gaming content for over 85% of gamers. Roughly half get their info from other gamers, and about the same number from gaming websites and magazines. Forums are also popular and used by 40%.

Over 80% of gamers are most interested in game reviews, while just under 60% care about hardware. eSports coverage is growing in presence and is nudging 40%, just behind interest in new technology.

Local PC gamers mostly hang out in exclusive gaming channels (70%) through chat software such as Teamspeak and Discord, or in forums and Whatsapp groups. Social media takes up 30 percent, about the same as socialising in gaming lobbies.

“PC gamers are often seen as a closed community, but this isn’t true.” said Buchanan. “The research shows that they are instead just very specific. They invest a great deal of time and money into gaming and are not interested in channels that don’t understand this dedication. But it’s not elitist: even gamers with very humble systems are welcomed into the fold. That is, until people start bragging about the specs of their rigs.

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