Jon Peddie Research estimates 46% of the dollars spent in 2009 on gaming motivated PC hardware were directed toward what the firm calls the Enthusiast class.
This is the top-of-the line stuff: boutique PCs, high-end processors and graphics cards, SSD's, specialized gaming mice, keyboards, speakers, monitors, etc.
JPR is forecasting a shift in product mix demand as the worldwide PC gaming user base continues to increase in size. By 2013 the Enthusiast class will lose market share to the Performance and Mainstream classes from 46% to 35% of dollars spent. The good news for Enthusiast hardware producers is that this "market share shrink" occurs in an expanding market and expenditures on the Enthusiast class will grow from $9.5 billion to almost $12.5 billion in 2013.
Ted Pollak, Video Game Industry Analyst for JPR, cites a number of influences for this phenomenon. "PC hardware has caught up to most of the software and people are able to play computationally intensive games on Performance level systems. Performance systems now even support high resolution for all but the most demanding simulations and First Person Shooters. The frequency of Direct X updates is also driving some people toward mid-range GPU's. Some gamers are swapping out their Performance GPUs more frequently to engage the latest Direct X version, rather than making longer term investments in Enthusiast GPU's."
Despite this phenomenon, the high end will always be a good market. There is a style element to the Enthusiast class as well as what we call a "muscle car element". Enthusiast level hardware purchasers will spend hundreds, sometimes thousands more, to maximize gaming performance, and have the cutting edge of engineering and technolgy such as S3D (stereovision) and HD 120 Hz monitors.
Jon Peddie, President of JPR, noted that for all levels of hardware "gamers are ordering, building, and modding their rigs with components that just a few years ago were simply not available with any economy of scale. SSD's, water cooling, gaming mice and keyboards and other components have come to the Performance class and gamers are starting to snap them up. "