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Competitive video game rage boosts business for Taiwan's MSI

Two years ago tech industry leaders were murmuring about the death of the PC as a money maker. They turned out to be wrong, and just ask MSI.

The Taiwanese tech hardware developer has growed its revenue from PCs since 2012 and believed it has surpassed Taiwan's normally bigger brand ASUSTek Computer.

The reason: People are buying PCs for eSports, which refer to the competitive play of computer-based video games.

According to New York-based market research firm SuperData, the world market value of eSports will reach US$8.92 billion this year.

As eSports grow, an increasing number of major tech developers are focusing on the PC market again.

A PC for eSports requires a relatively powerful central processing unit and usually costs more than normal hardware.

MSI had been struggling with low revenue from sales of PCs in general, particularly units sold for office use.

But the firm has seen a stock price gain and last year it posted a profit of NT$114.9 million (US$3.63 million), up from NT$36.7 million in 2014.

The eSport sector has expanded nine-fold since 2012, MSI deputy vice president Kuo Hsu-kuang said.

The executive in charge of marketing estimates that his PCs lead other brands with a 19 percent market share.

MSI sold about 3.9 million units last year and expects to grow that figure by 15 percent this year.

Sales of PCs for eSports grew last quarter and will grow again in the final three months of the year, MSI estimates. The company might see another surge in sales tied to Chinese New Year in the first two months of 2017.

MSI competes largely with ASUSTek, Acer, Dell and Lenovo.

The company launched eight new eSport-themed PC models in August, with virtual reality features, for middle-end consumers. Prices range from US$1,099 to US$1,799.

The market could be almost any place where people have money and enthusiasm for gaming.

Major markets for gaming PCs are China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

China and South Korea are expected to generate 23 percent of the world’s revenue this year from eSport hardware, NewZoo forecasts.

Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia are weighing in, as well.

According to data from market research firm IDC, 61 percent of eSport players in Vietnam spend one to two hours per day on their PCs for games. In Thailand 17 percent spend more than two hours to play, which is 9 percent higher than the world average.

Although the Southeast Asian and Eastern European markets are less profitable than the five major world economies, both are being eyed by PC vendors, as consumers in both regions increasingly have money to spend.