By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Some technology companies believe that the Covid-19 pandemic will see increased demand for gaming products even after life returns to normal
Electric firms operating in the Gulf region have seen a spike in sales as a result an increase in gaming amid Covid-19 restrictions, according to industry insiders.
Around the world, there has been a significant rise in gaming during the Covid-19 pandemic, with millions around the world remaining at home during lockdown restrictions.
PC gaming service Steam, for example, saw a record-breaking 23.5 million gamers on the platform simultaneously on March 30. In the United States alone, data from telecom giant Verizon shows that gaming usage has gone up 75 percent during peak hours.
In the Middle East, increased gaming has led to a spike in sales for related items. For example, Taiwan-headquartered technology firm Acer – which specialises in PCs and laptops favoured by gamers – has reported that sales have gone up by one-fifth over the last several weeks in the region.
“As people battle to fill their time, gaming has become a very valid and quite important pastime,” said Paul Collins, the firm’s Middle East general manager. “We’ve definitely seen an upsurge [in sales] of gaming monitors, and we’ve seen a move in product demand for more entry level line products for gaming.”
“We’ve seen as much as 20 percent [rises] in some key territories in terms of short-term demand,” he added. “That implies that people are either improving their set-ups, or maybe even getting into new gaming.”
Over the longer term, Collins says he is “cautiously optimistic” that demand for gaming products will remain elevated over the next 12 to 18 months.
“A lot of it is because of the suddenness of this [pandemic] and lack of preparation,” he added. “People thought they had the right equipment [for gaming] but now realise that they don’t, now that they’ve been stress tested.”
Matthew Pickering, the managing director of Power League Gaming, said that some titles are seeing engagement spikes of as high as 100 to 150 percent as a result of the pandemic.
“[That] is quite incredible when you look at those titles even pre-Covid,” he added. “The bottom line is that we are all at home, now more than ever. The demand for entertainment and collaboration is high and the ability to compete with one another in traditional sports or physical formats is at an all-time low.”
Another tech firm, HyperX – which designs headsets for use in gaming – has seen Mideast sales rise by 25 percent, leading to some of its products selling out.
“Data from Google searches shows more and more people are looking for comfortable, durable headsets due to working from home. This has bolstered HyperX headset sales,” said Hani Suwwan, HyperX business development manager for the MENA region.
“Once people incorporate [gaming] into their daily routines, we predict gaming activity to remain present, but perhaps we will see a decrease in playing time, as and when people return to their workplaces,” Suwwan added.
Raghav Koorichh, category lead for the MERAT region for Dell Technologies – which saw a spike in demand for gaming laptops since March – said that he believes high-demand for gaming products will continue even after the pandemic ends.
“People really seem to be enjoying the sense of community that gaming creates,” he said.