In Focus

Ikea and Aldi plug into gaming and esports market in lockdown boom

Lidl also looking to get a cut of the action amid record spending by world’s 2.5 billion gamers

The gaming industry has won hordes of new customers during Covid lockdowns, and retailers are looking at ways of cashing in on the boom in player numbers and product sales.

As restaurants, shops and cinemas were forced to close their doors in the past year, “stay-at-home Britons spent a record amount on music, videos and gaming”, Sky News reports. 

According to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), spending in the sector increased by 18.3% in 2020 - the “highest recorded growth rate the UK market has ever seen”. 

The ERA data revealed that the fastest growing digital sector last year was video, “where sales soared by 37.7% to £2.9bn, driven mainly by the growth of subscription services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video”, says Sky News. 

However, gaming remains the biggest single sector, “accounting for 48% of aggregate sales, followed by video (35%) and music (17%)”.

Spending on gaming was up by 17.7% compared with 2019 and sales of video console games increased by 7.7% to £638.5m, driven by the launches of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series. 

ERA chief executive Kim Bayley said: “The entertainment market was already growing without coronavirus, but with much of the leisure sector shuttered due to lockdown, music, video and games were in the right place at the right time.”

The MATCHSPEL gaming chair is part of Ikea’s new furniture collection

The MATCHSPEL gaming chair is part of Ikea’s new furniture collection

Ikea

Furniture just for gamers 

The increase in at-home gaming has also contributed to the growth of esports as professional-level players, teams and tournaments continue to attract huge fanbases. 

Last year the global esport market was valued at $950m (£681m) and it’s predicted to reach $1.6bn (£1.14bn) by 2023. With more than 2.5 billion gamers around the world and global revenues expected to increase by 68% in the next two years, retailers are looking to “cash in on this trend”, Yahoo Finance reports.

Swedish company Ikea has announced details of its new gaming furniture range produced in collaboration with Republic of Gamers. Launched in China at the end of January, the range will go on sale globally from October and will target PC gamers. It will include products such as gaming chairs, desks, drawers units, lights and blankets. 

Ewa Rychert, global business leader of workspace at Ikea, said: “The needs of billions of gamers around the globe are very diverse, whereas the existing offer is rather technical and often perceived as masculine design-wise, despite around 46% of gamers being female. We believe there’s a lot to be done to democratise the gaming experience.

“Now we take the first step on our gaming journey, and we do it by presenting affordable, high-performing gaming products and complete solutions that we hope reflect people’s personality and taste.”

Retailers want a slice of the esport pie 

Earlier this week, Aldi was confirmed as the official supplier of the Prime League, a League of Legends competition in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The partnership will launch Aldi Gaming, which will “promote the esports and gaming scene in Germany”, the supermarket chain said.

Meanwhile, supermarket rival Lidl has also recently agreed a deal to become the fresh food partner of German esports organisation SK Gaming. 

Industry publication Esports Insider said: “It seems like a natural progression to see more non-endemic brands enter the esports space, especially companies that offer everyday needs. Esports fans need food, insurance, and bank accounts just like everyone else.” 

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