A Giant Increase in Gaming Headsets for 2020 Forecasts Big-Time Esports Future for AV

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Gaming headsets and accessories have seen a boost in demand during the first half of 2020, new research from Futuresource Consulting has shown. With social distancing measures increasing demand for communication equipment both from the virtual office and in the virtual playground, gaming headsets are one bright spot for the technology market in 2020.

“Our analysis shows a 19% growth in market volume for gaming accessories is expected this year,” said Morris Garrard, gaming research analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “With social distancing measures in place, Gen Z and other key demographic target groups have been turning to online gaming platforms as a replacement for the playground, pub or club, with gaming becoming a vital source of social interaction while public spaces have closed.”

Existing and new gamers have not been the only group utilizing gaming headsets, with those working from home making use of the high-quality audio functionalities of gaming headsets to connect with colleagues and clients. Demand for office equipment has seen exponential growth as the world has equipped home offices, meaning that traditional office headsets have become more difficult to obtain.

“Gaming headsets designed for clarity of audio and comfort during long gaming sessions make them an ideal product for those trying hard to remain connected at work while wrestling with the complexities of hosting meetings and presentations online,” said Garrard.

Where a spike in demand has left office headsets out of stock in online stores, gaming headsets have provided a readily available replacement product.

Growth in the gaming headsets and accessories market has seen a boost in demand thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2020 expected previously to remain a year of flat market growth. “With next-generation consoles set to launch at the end of 2020, it was anticipated some consumers would hold off purchasing gaming accessories which risk becoming outdated with next-generation hardware from Microsoft and Sony,” said Garrard. While consumers remain excited about the next generation of hardware, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for communication hardware in both work and play, providing a market boost that otherwise would have been unattainable.

Office workers are not the only new arrivals in gaming headsets, as gaming branded products become a hot topic in the consumer electronics industry. While technology heavyweights Sony and Microsoft have been active in the gaming market since its early years, few other major brands have stepped into the competitive gaming ring, until now.

“Brands including JBL, Panasonic, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica and Beyerdynamic have been making a break for the vast sums spent by consumers on gaming,” said Garrard. “With further market expansion forecast, we expect the list of consumer electronics vendors in this market to grow, competing directly with gaming specialist brands such as Turtle Beach and SteelSeries for a share of this lucrative market.”

Gaming branded products have offered an opportunity to leverage strategic advantages in audio technology in a market that demands quality. With gaming products often receiving a higher margin than core consumer electronics products, brands have jumped on board to increase revenues in this highly profitable market.

Gaming is not just about graphics quality; getting the audio experience right can make or break a game’s popularity and provide an advantage to players at the top of their game.

“The next generation of consoles will raise the bar on audio quality and immersion, providing tools to game developers to take the acoustic experience to the next level,” said Garrard.

While software is an integral part of the battle, gamers are keen to make sure their hardware can match the experience, providing a boost to the console gaming headset market over the next five years.

“Sony will leverage its Tempest engine to provide a proprietary 3D audio solution, calibrated to one of five head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) to best suit individual gamers, giving a truly immersive experience in-game. Microsoft is expected to maintain its partnership with Dolby to provide an Atmos experience for the Series X,” said Garrard.

With both consoles boasting an improved audio experience, high-quality headsets and gaming speakers will become an increasingly integral aspect of gaming setups.

Mobile-based content is presenting the most significant growth opportunity for the gaming industry. Plus, true wireless headphones remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds as a must-have audio accessory. It is no surprise this technology has been brought into the gaming headset market.

“The success of products such as Apple’s AirPods highlights the monumental shift seen in the wider headphones market, with consumers keen to get their hands on the true wireless form factor,” said Garrard. “While there is still some way to go, latency in true wireless headphones has begun to reach palatable levels for gaming applications in some consumers’ minds.”

Products such as the Razer Hammerhead have shown high levels of initial consumer interest. With connectivity technology providers such as Qualcomm working to reduce latency levels, true wireless headphones will soon become a viable option for even the most scrupulous gamers.

This all bodes well for the future of esports. With esports growth at 9% in 2019, it was expected to see double-digit growth in 2020 before COVID-19. That will undoubtedly delay the inevitable — a big-time future for AV is in esports. With both ESPN and FOX Sports investing in it, this is an area that both live events and install companies should get to know and understand. There are a plethora of opportunities in both segments for AV companies, and it will all start with higher education, according to THE rAVe Agency’s Gary Kayye.

“Nearly all higher education institutions in the USA were either planning to have or already had esports teams by the middle of the 2020 decade. In fact, over 150 colleges in the U.S. already have esports teams, with 20 being varsity teams. Start with your local university as it is likely either wanting to convert a classroom, use it as flex space or build an esports facility of some type,” Kayye said.

Here’s a webinar Gary Kayye led a couple of months ago all about esports.