According to a report from the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) gaming software grew 8 percent to about $20 billion globally in 2012, primarily driven by an influx of Chinese gamers, said David Cole, an analyst with DFC Intelligence.
He estimated there are 1 billion people who play PC-based games with about 250 million playing core games, defined as using sophisticated strategy, action or role playing.
The PCGA commissioned the report, which was compiled by Jon Peddie Research (JPR) and DFC Intelligence, called the PCGA Pinnacle Report that contained data on hardware, software, player spending habits and system preferences.
DFC believes the market will continue to grow with a compound annual growth rate of about 6 percent to $25.7 billion in 2016.
JPR, which handled the hardware aspect of the report, described the industry as robust and steady despite worldwide economic issues. However, the research firm did note that PC gaming does have an image problem.
"The PC gaming market suffers from living in the shadow of the console market, and even though sales, and number of units sold of gaming PCs is higher than the sales or units sold of consoles, console games outsell PC games. As a result of this imbalance, game developers are drawn to the DX9 world of consoles and then re-port their games to the PC," the report stated.
In addition, JPR noted that the x86 processor-based gaming PC market is larger than the console game market, although no figures were released to back up this statement.
Other key findings
Desktops are still the most popular platform for high-end gamers.
The all-in-one PC form factor is now working into the mix.
Laptops and Ultrabooks are becoming more popular as these gain more processing and graphics power via the inclusion of discrete graphics cards.
Tablets using Intel x86 processors, although few in numbers, are starting to have an impact.