The personal computer is arguably the
most powerful gaming platform, considering how customizable a PC’s setup can be. To get a handle on exactly what PC gamers prioritize, PCMag surveyed 23,696 people, ages 18 to 54, from March 23 to April 5, 2020 (via Google Surveys).
The majority of those people, 63.1 percent, weren’t gamers
at all; what they’re doing to pass the time is a mystery (cough, Tiger King, cough). Of the 36.9 percent who said they were indeed gamers, the majority use a
mobile device or tablet for gaming (26.1 percent); the number-two slot was an
even split between Xbox and PlayStation users each at 21.7 percent.
PC gamers made up 19 percent, in total about 1,001 of the
survey respondents. The majority aren’t buying super-expensive rigs, but they also don’t scrimp too much. Most go with a moderately priced gaming PC, spending $501 to $1,500.
Only about 8.2 percent opt for the really high-end setups that cost over $3,501.
Those are the people you hate most when you lose at Fortnite.
worth noting that a full third of the people surveyed built their own PCs. Which
seems like an astronomically high number, until you consider that gamers want to personalize
not only the components inside but often the look of their rigs.
The graphics card is the most important component for a gamer: 42.8 percent have invested in a GPU to make their games’ frame rate and
graphics the best they can be. Memory comes in second, and storage is third.
Externally, there’s nothing more important to a PC gamer than
having a top-flight monitor. Otherwise, why bother investing in that new GPU? Second
is a headset, even ahead of a mouse or keyboard input, which underscores the
necessity of good audio communications—and for keeping the sound down so as not to disturb your family or roommates. (Speakers and soundbars are low on the list.)
Not many of our respondents cared about the light show. Only
41.1 percent said they’d setup RGB lighting on their system, but that’s still
411 people who like the pretty lights!
We asked about furniture. Only about a quarter of the respondents
have bothered going with the standing desk option; healthy bodies is not a
priority over frags. But gaming chairs are important, and
the most crucial aspect of their seats was having good lumbar support
for their backs. Being able to fully tilt/recline was a distant second,
implying that there is very
little sleeping happening during gaming.
Finally, we asked where survey respondents get their games online. We found that 44.8
percent go to Steam
(our Editors’ Choice for PC Game Store). Next were the big retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop, at 25.9 percent. First-party game publishers with online services, like Blizzard’s Battle.net or
EA’s Origin, came in next, at 9.9 percent. In some telling results, people ages 45 to 54, in the
upper age range of our respondents, were much more likely to purchase a physical game
at a retailer than to use online subscriptions and downloads. Young people don’t
want discs laying around like we old-timers do.