• Alain Godet

Demand for Gaming Monitors Increases during Pandemic

Dominika Koncewicz, Senior Analyst for Displays at CONTEXT
Dominika Koncewicz, Senior Analyst for Displays at CONTEXT

Europe’s largest distributors sold significantly more gaming monitors in July 2020 than in the same period last year, according to the latest research by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. The increases coincided with the time when the pandemic, and measures taken for its containment, began seriously to affect the continent.

European sales of gaming monitors – consumer monitors with a refresh rate of 144 Hz and above – increased by +114% year-on-year in Q2 2020. This was a significant advance on the first-quarter growth rate of +52%, and the impressive growth rate also continued into July. Sales were particularly strong in Western Europe (WE), where the number of units sold was up by +125% in the second quarter and by +122% in July, compared with +48% in the first quarter. The increase was more modest in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE): +79% in Q2, rising to +90% in July.

The lower sales in CEE are explained by a more muted performance in Russia, where a traditionally strong gaming market has been affected by the country’s current economic challenges. A second-quarter year-on-year increase of only +12% has depressed the figures for the region as a whole: sales were excellent in the Czechia (up +163% in Q2 and by +227% in July) and in another gaming stronghold, Poland (+115% in Q2, +136% in July). In WE, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy, sales more than doubled during the first weeks of Q3.

As expected, distributor sales to consumer channels grew with a steep increase in those to consumer etailers, the most significant buyers for gaming monitors”, said Dominika Koncewicz, Senior Analyst for Displays at CONTEXT. “The next-biggest customers, the retail chains, also increased their purchases from distributors. More surprisingly, the trend was mirrored in business channels, especially by small and medium resellers.

Sales of products with a refresh rate of 144 Hz, still the leading rate for gaming monitors, continued to grow. However, viewing each quarter as a whole, their share of the overall market dropped by five points between the first and second quarters as interest grew in models with higher refresh rates. 165 Hz monitors increased their share of the total market from 11% in the first quarter of 2020 to 15% in the second; in the month of July, their share stood at 17%. Curved screens also grew in popularity over the year.

There were some fluctuations in sales by screen size, which may point to supply pressures rather than shifting consumer trends. The market share of several popular sizes fell over the first half of the year; for instance, the share of 60-cm monitors went from 16% in the first quarter to 13% in the second. Meanwhile, the market share of the most popular size, 68.6 cm, grew five points over the course of the year to 39% in July, and the share of smaller 60.5-cm monitors increased steadily from 6% to 11% in the same period. 86.4-cm monitors gained ground, but their presence is still small (2% in July).

Supply pressures might also account for shifts in the mix of screen resolutions. Again, sales of monitors with certain resolutions decreased whilst those of WQHD models, the fastest-growing resolution in the gaming category, increased by +160% year-on-year in July. The price of 68.6-cm WQHD monitors with refresh rates of 240Hz and 165Hz fell during 2020.

Vendors that performed well included BenQ, Lenovo and MSI. In comparison with the same period in 2019, distributors dramatically increased their sales of products from these companies in the second quarter.

Whilst economic challenges have had their effect on demand, lockdowns have, so far, helped this market that is overwhelmingly focused on consumers – although the nature of future containment measures will affect sales in the second half of the year. Distributors may also find themselves being able to offer gamers an increasingly diverse range of specifications as supply-side issues are resolved”, added Dominika.