Indies have 99 problems but Twitch ain't one

Computer retailers are well-placed to win over this massive market, says PCR editor Dominic Sacco…
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Computer retailers are well-placed to win over this massive market, says PCR editor Dominic Sacco…

Independent retailers – you’re an incredibly hard working bunch that offer invaluable expertise and customer service.

You have to compete with etailers, big multiples and low online pricing, while staying afloat, keeping your customers happy and surviving. And while your list of challenges is seemingly endless, there is a huge opportunity which is falling into your lap right now.

New data from Juniper Research has found that online eSports services, such as Twitch, will grow to over 310 million users by 2020, increasing from 133 million this year and bringing in almost $1 billion in revenues from subscriptions alone. 

By comparison, 2020 will see eSports audiences surpass the levels of the NFL tournament (which had 220 million unique viewers) and approach that of Formula 1 (400 million global viewers).

It may sound weird, but when I get home from work, I don’t switch on the TV – I turn to my smartphone and have a quick scan to see which eSports pros are playing PC games via the Twitch app. These guys are already sponsored by big PC brands from the likes of SanDisk to Roccat, Intel, Scan Computers and many more, with companies also splashing the cash to advertise with Twitch (which was bought by Amazon last year for around $1 billion). Revenues are set to rise by 250 per cent from 2015 to 2020, with more paying eSports service subscribers set to emerge.

Some of these Twitch viewers will look up to their favourite players and want the PC gear they have. This is a fantastic opportunity for local PC stores to become experts in this area and advise customers on the best gaming components and products (as well as offer other services to them while they’re in store, of course, from repairs to other hardware and so on).

This secondary audience means PC stores could take a leaf out of sports shops’ book. eSports is becoming a bigger beast than PC gaming could have ever been by itself.

When something can become almost as popular as Formula 1 in the space of just over a decade, to ignore it would be a massive missed opportunity in my opinion.

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