Christmas is three months away, and retailers need to be prepared for the influx of consumers looking for accessories and peripherals.
But what will gamers be searching for on store shelves this year?
In years gone by, motion controllers and cameras were top sellers (See ‘Christmases Past'). But today it's more high-end products... and toys.
2011 saw sales of gaming headsets take off,” says Chart-Track senior account manager Chris Poole.
More recently, the majority of revenue comes from digital content and non-traditional gaming products such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity.”
With market demand continually evolving, Tom Hodge, sales director at accessories specialist Venom, adds that retailers should be aware that consumers are far more clued-in when shopping for products.
As the games market has fluctuated, the appetite for accessories has endured,” he states.
Consumers have changed their buying habits, becoming increasingly more brand aware and knowledgeable when it comes to the purchase. The explosion of social media has meant that accessories are becoming more transparent with online reviews and feedback playing a big part.”
HEADSET FOR SUCCESS
Headsets are among the products currently most in demand, driven by the integration of online multiplayer and people live-streaming their gameplay online.
The growth in online gaming over the last five years has had an impact on how gamers like to play, and a key aspect has been having the ability to communicate with their friends quickly and effectively,” comments Neal McCann, marketing assistant at SCEE.
Retailers may also consider stocking products targeted at certain platforms.
It looks like Xbox Live users, rather than PSN gamers, are more inclined to use a headset,” advises Poole.
According to GfK, premium console gaming headsets for the Xbox One have helped to grow the gaming headset sector to its highest year-to-date share of ‘traditional' console gaming accessories (non-Skylanders, non-digital cards), now comprising 27.8 per cent of the market.
"Consumers have changed their buying habits, becoming increasingly more brand aware and knowledgeable when it comes to the purchase."
Tom Hodge, Venom
Hodge says headset charging stations are also popular.
Headsets and charging solutions are proving to be our biggest categories,” he tells MCV.
As people game for longer and online they want to be able to do that without being interrupted because their batteries have run out or their headset is uncomfortable.”
It's not just expensive Turtle Beach headsets that are doing the business either.
The majority of sales are in the sub-50 price point,” explains Gioteck GM Alan Jones, adding that PC players are a particularly prospective audience for retailers: The PC market, with a smaller serious gaming community, tends to be less fashion-orientated; whilst hardware penetration has stalled in recent years as the mass market has adopted the tablet format, the accessories market is still sizeable and probably worth 40 million per annum in the UK alone.”
PRODUCTS OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE
With headsets seemingly set to be at the top of many gamers' Christmas lists this year, what will be the product picks of Q4s to come?
Beyond the continued importance of audio and controller products we see opportunities in wired and wireless charging, storage devices for downloaded content and new ways of interfacing with multimedia consoles other than a traditional joypad,” says Jones.
Hodge expects headsets to continue to generate strong sales. He adds that while the PS4 and Xbox One provide the perfect opportunity to stock next-gen accessories, existing last-gen products will continue to sell well.
"The next-gen consoles stimulate demand in the gaming market and the need for accessories."
Tom Hodge, Venom
The next-gen consoles obviously stimulate demand in the gaming market and theneed for accessories,” he explains.
The market has undoubtedly benefitted from this additional publicity and associated interest.
The new hardware launches offer a welcome opportunity for new fresh designs. Headsets and charging solutions continue to be our focus. We've seen significant uptake of next-gen accessories, with very little effect on our existing product portfolio.”
Jones predicts that the accessories market is finally on the up.
We expect the overall console accessories market to grow this year by five to 10 per cent,” he forecasts.
But growth in 2015 and 2016 will be far stronger.”
Chart-Track's Chris Poole looks back at the biggest accessories of years gone by.
Five years ago, the Wii MotionPlus was the biggest selling gaming accessory,” he says.
In fact, the Top Five best-selling gaming accessories that year were all Wii accessories – MotionPlus, the Wii Fit Balance Board, Wiimote, Wheel and Nunchuk.”
He continues: Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move in 2010 created a big shift in the accessories market.
The original Kinect sensor is currently the biggest-grossing gaming accessory we have on record.”