PUBG Mobile might be all the rage but it appears that PUBG PC isn't far behind. Last week, Acer hosted the Predator League finals in Mumbai featuring PUBG Corp's battle royale sensation in what was one of the largest PUBG PC LAN tournaments for the country. While it might seem like Acer's attempt to legitimise e-sports, the reasons for selecting PUBG are far more simpler. Gadgets 360 caught up with Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India to find out more.
Although PUBG's ascendance on PC has been remarkable, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) has been the de facto choice for many a competitive gaming league. Choosing PUBG PC over CS:GO had more to do with PUBG PC matches supporting upto 100 players at the same time versus five in competitive CSGO.
"Even though PUBG released just 12 months ago [out of early access], it's really caught up," Panigrahi says. "Because it supports 100 players, it allows more people to participate and that was the core criteria why we decided to go with PUBG. It helps in getting more people to understand what gaming is."
And getting more people to understand gaming is crucial for Acer to widen its audience. The company claims to have a lion's share of the gaming market and titles like PUBG allow it to expand beyond its current users.
"People are graduating from mobile games to PC games," he says of a nascent section of Acer's audience. "We're close to about 30 percent of the gaming PC market, which is four to five percent of the total category. Consumers typically ask for machines that can handle multiple games like PUBG and Dota 2. Fortunately what's happening is that the quality of games is going up and that's when the need for a high-end GPU comes in."
Though 'high-end' is a relative term. The most popular laptop models for Acer sport Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1060 video cards, which are mid-range options at best.
"The Helios 300 is our most popular SKU [stock keeping unit] followed by the Nitro line-up," he says. "These are largely with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 cards."
While Panigrahi claims that the demand for laptops with more powerful cards like the GTX 1070 and 1080 is "growing", they're a smaller chunk of the pie.
On the topic of Acer's users, we wondered who is the typical buyer for its gaming laptops are.
"We've understood that the buyer for a gaming machine is very different from a normal buyer for a notebook,” Panigrahi explains. "They're probably a second or third time buyer. They really understand are what their requirements are."
At the same time, Acer seems to have adopted a go to market strategy that's at odds with most other gaming brands, tying up with e-commerce sites such as Flipkart and then targeting offline outlets. We had to ask what's the reason for this approach when you consider the last high-profile attempt ended rather poorly.
"We started with e-commerce because we're able to reach out to more gamers faster than the classic brick and mortar route," he says. "Now we've expanded to all."
What's more is, Panigrahi tells us that the online-first approach has been reaping rewards.
"The sales split is almost 60 to 40 in favour of e-commerce," he says, chalking it to down to consumers who are "evolved" and are aware of what Acer has to offer.
That being said, would an evolved user understand Acer's price hikes due to dollar fluctuations? Recently, the Indian rupee was at all time low, hovering around 74 and seems to have stabilised around 70. The impact of this has already been felt in certain complementary sectors like video games. Most notably, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and FIFA 19 receiving price hikes because of the weak rupee. Panigrahi admits this has been a problem.
"The last four to five months were challenging when it went up from 62 right up to 74, that was hit for us to take,” he says. "We started to adjust the price, but we could not adjust it completely, so we absorbed some of it. We masked it with consumer promos like cashbacks and EMIs to offset the price hikes. Combination of these things helped in the interim. Now we see the dollar stabilising a bit so it's okay."
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