One of the UK's leading retailers of PC gaming hardware is trying to push into the UK High Street via GAME. But with an internet-savvy audience, why bother?
We ask marketing and partnership manager Mark Purdy
Why work with GAME?
GAME made a serious move into the PC market with the acquisition of Multiplay. Gaming PCs were a key product missing from its portfolio, which existing customers can now buy directly from them. It also means bringing reputable PC gaming to the High Street through GAME's stores.
Historically, specialists retailers – including GAME – largely ignored PC gaming. Why do you think that mistake was made? And what has changed now?
A few years ago, PC gaming's perception blinded companies to believe growth was stunted and consoles would dominate the market. PC gamers, including myself, knew the market wouldn't disappear. eSports and online broadcasting platforms such as Twitch provided a new mainstream way for PC gaming to be explored, adding to its popularity. The price and performance of gaming PCs today also means it doesn't break the bank to get a gaming PC suitable for all of today's releases.
What are you hoping retailers, like GAME, will start doing in the PC space?
The aim is for GAME to bring PC gaming back to the mass market, as currently it's very limited where you can find gaming PCs. Providing a hands-on experience is important, especially for new customers, and we want a destination for PC gamers and place where they can talk to someone – currently no-one is doing this.
PC gamers are online-savvy, more so than any other. So why does High Street retail even matter?
It's still important to have a physical presence, despite the huge internet market, because footfall in GAME stores is very high. With a large amount of outlets, GAME brings a new level of accessibility to gaming PCs, with its access to cash customers and the options available around trade-ins. These are things that can't be found elsewhere.
PC gaming can be a complex area, and store staff can be a big help or a hindrance in this area. Is there a need to develop training programmes?
Yes, we agree and we're rolling out a training programme with GAME. This is one reason GAME is working with us closely and recognise there is a big training requirement. Store staff will be educated through GAME's eLearning program.
What would you say to those gamers who have always been tempted by PC gaming, but find the prospect of it both daunting and expensive?
Gaming PCs are no more daunting than using a console, operating systems are very user friendly and actually offer a wider range of uses. Even though PC gaming has been thought to be very expensive, price and performance is much lower and much more affordable than most people think. It's a case of education to explain why some gaming PCs are higher priced than others. Today, you can buy a gaming PC that will run side-by-side with a console, and likely to be more powerful than a console, for the same cost.
And although systems have a higher investment, the long-term savings from PC game prices, software and other applications is very much worth it. GAME also gives a two per cent reward back to the customers along with the ability to order via finance, making it even more cost effective.
Reports keep painting the picture of a PC market in decline. Have you seen that at all, either in your complete systems or components business?
Being in the growth gaming PC niche, we have not noticed the decline.
There's been an attempt to move PC gaming into the living room through things like Steam Machines. Is it working? Is it important?
Although the idea is nice, we feel that living room gaming PCs won't become mainstream. This isn't to say we won't keep an eye on the market, but since launching we've not effectively noticed any changes in buying or usage.
WHO IS OVERCLOCKERS?
The UK retailer and system builder is dedicated to PC gamers. Overclockers UK was established in 1999 when it brought to market some of the first Overclocked processors, and has since expanded to become one of the UK's largest hardware and system providers. In January 2012 it was acquired by PC supplier Caseking.
GETTING VIRTUALLY READY
One big area for Overclockers this year has been in developing VR-ready PC machines.
We've demoed VR and love it,” said Mark Purdy, marketing and partnership manager at Overclockers. Our recommendations with VR will be to ensure you buy enough power to make the experience as smooth as possible.
Nvidia recommend a GTX 970 as minimum for VR, but we heavily recommend Nvidia GTX 980 and above as we feel this will give the best experience. If it needs to be a full VR rig upgrade, or just components, we cater for both.”
He added: We have reacted quickly, setting up a VR-ready system range featuring Nvidia's recommended VR specification. We know VR will be huge and we'll be evolving alongside the products. Not to mention working closely with GAME on their plans in this category also.
I believe that VR will push performance from publishers, ultimately utilising computer hardware as it's meant to be and pushing it to near full potential.”