In my experience the gaming industry tends to drive most of the computer upgrades for home users. In fact I’d go so far as to say if it weren’t for the gaming industry the computer hardware industry would see about a 50% cut in sales year over year. Seriously, think about it. How often do home users upgrade either the components of their system or replace their system when all they’re doing is email or web browsing? You can probably answer that with some answer in the years. My guess is like 3-5 years. And virtually every upgrade for an average home user is in the form of an entire system purchase, and the vast majority of those are basic systems. No one who uses their system to do word processing, email, or web browsing ever upgrades their video card, RAM, or sound card.
Compare that to gamers though and you see an entirely different picture. Most gamers I know replace their entire rig every 2-3 years, and in-between might perform a couple video card upgrade, purchase an expensive sound system, etc. If the gamer purchases bleeding edge technology he or she will typically get more use out of it, but if he or she is purchasing on a budget then they usually end up having to purchase more often as games are constantly requiring more powerful hardware for high level performance. A home user might spend $500-$1000 every 3-5 years and be done with it. A gamer spends that much on a video card alone every couple years. I’d love to find some industry analysis that documents how much money is made through the gaming public.
Add my name to the list. I’ve been fairly lucky in the past few years. I don’t purchase many solo play games anymore and the vast majority of my gaming time in in MMOs. The hardware requirements for MMOs tend to be quite stable year to year and so I’ve been using my HP p6310y desktop (AMD Athlon II X4 64 – 2.8ghz quad core, 6GB DDR3, NVidia GeForce GT 220 video card) to play WoW for a little more than two years. The SWTOR beta this past weekend showed me, despite Bioware’s indication otherwise, my lower spec video card that runs WoW without any lag whatsoever can’t run SWTOR without lag. My son, however, was playing SWTOR beautifully on his Dell hooked up to his 42” LED HDTV. I honestly forgot to ask what video card he has in his system, but whatever it is it’s obviously better than mine and he experienced zero lag all day Sunday.
Needless to say I slapped in a new 650 watt power supply and a new NVidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti video card in my system this afternoon. You’re welcome Bestbuy.