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XXXX EDITION Sept17 www.pcr-online.biz

The UK’s largest Gaming Portfolio GAMING ISSUE #168

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September 2017

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TheEditor

Gaming Issue

No. 168 September 2017

The chagrin of a Mac gamer I MAKE NO secret of the fact that I am an avid gamer but I often will, when amongst the denizens of the PCR world, hide the fact that I primarily play on console and – even worse – Mac. Those three dreaded letters that set me, and about 10 per cent of the world’s PC population, apart from apparently ever being able to call ourselves ‘true gamers’. At this point it’s become a running gag, with not even ‘hot topic’ gaming journos bothering to dedicate column inches to the subject anymore. Every time Apple brings out a new system that it claims to be a powerhouse, a news writer will say that it’s the ‘best Mac for gaming yet’, and some wiseacre in the comments section will snigger that ‘only idiots buy mac’. Rinse and repeat. And that has left me in a particular quandary, especially when it comes to virtual reality. Sure, I picked up a PlayStation VR headset when it came out, but I still covet the HTC Vive, even more so right now given its £200 price cut. Apple recently announced an eGPU which should make their systems compatible with leading VR headsets, but little has been said of that since it was revealed alongside the latest MacBooks and iMacs. With the PC gaming market growing larger and larger (thanks in no small part to their rapid improvements in comparison to growingly obsolete consoles), there is definitely money to be made by Apple and its associated parties in courting gamers – and by extension the developers who don’t currently view the platform as viable. Until then I’ll just sit here and play Football Manager.

“There is definitely money to be made by Apple and its associated parties in courting gamers”

Jonathan Easton, Editor jeaston@nbmedia.com

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THE BIG INTERVIEW Nvidia

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Contents September 2017 Life outside London

06

We explore the UK cities taking advantage of a London exodus

The rise of esports

30

Esports is growing fast, how can retailers take advantage

GAME's new backer

24

With Mike Ashley on board, what is next for the high street retailer

Acer

36

The Predator maker talks about the gaming market and esports

At a glance 28 TRACING WHERE IT ALL BEGAN Turning back the clock, we track the rise of PC gaming from its humble origins and predict where it may be heading in years to come 34 EXERTIS INTERVIEW The distributor reveals how important PC and console gaming is to its overall business model

Regulars 10 Life in the Channel 13 Industry opinion 42 Products 53 In my team 54 Logging off

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Oposite left to right: Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi. Stephen Thair, DevOpsGuys.

“The presence of technology companies in an area can be a powerful engine of job creation” Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi

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Analysis

Capital groans As London falls out of favour, other parts of the UK are thriving. Rob Horgan explores the length and breadth of the country to locate the emerging technology hubs changing the landscape of the UK’s digital map

THE CAPITAL is losing its draw. Be it Brexit, high prices or packed tubes, something is turning people off London. Workers are leaving in their droves, and companies are looking beyond the M25 for alternative headquarters. In fact the rate of leaving the city is more than 80 per cent higher than five years ago, with 93,000 Londoners leaving for places outside the capital between 2015 and 2016. And the tech sector is no different. While London is still ranked as the UK’s primary technology hub, the fifth UK Tech Innovation Index suggests that winds of change are already blowing. Compiled by the Open Data Institute and the Digital Catapult organisation, the Index reveals that areas outside the capital are showing significant signs of growth. In particular, smaller cities across the UK are fuelling technology innovation in niche areas such as manufacturing, virtual reality and IoT production. The survey found that while London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brighton and Southampton are the top five cities for data innovation, Reading and Liverpool are leaders in the internet of things (IoT). Meanwhile Coventry and Aberdeen topped the leaderboard for manufacturing and Cardiff was also identified as

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showing ‘early signs of an emerging virtual reality innovation cluster’. Tom Forth, head of data at ODI Leeds, said: “Our approach to measuring innovation pioneers new ways of picking out the early signs that industrial clusters are emerging. Our results are largely as expected, with large cities such as London, Manchester and Glasgow performing strongly in all areas and well-known overachievers such as Edinburgh, Cambridge and Brighton punching well above their weight. “Interestingly, our techniques seem to spot early signs of more focused excellence. In Reading and Liverpool, we see real strength in the internet of things. Leeds does very well in health. And in Aberdeen and Coventry, manufacturing is notably strong.” And while the shift away from the Capital may spell bad news for the future of the Silicon Roundabout, a less concentrated economic hub may be the key to sustaining healthy competition (and funding) in a postBrexit Britain. One such place that is capitalising on London’s exodus is Wales. Start-ups in Cardiff and Swansea in particular are popping up every week, as Wales’ big cities redefine the way they make money. And

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“There are a lot of people working in London who want a better work/life balance, particularly as they establish families” Stephen Thair, DevOpsGuys

Above: Liverpool is one of the cities with a growing tech base that is benefiting from London’s decreasing interest

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according to industry experts it is only a matter of time until Cardiff develops its first unicorn (a start-up valued at $1 billion). James Smith, chief executive and co-founder of IT consultancy DevOpsGuys has seen Wales grow from a place of sparse opportunity into a thriving technology hub destined for success. “Wales needs success stories of people who have put a business together and grown it, so others can understand how it was done,” he says. While official statistics claim that Cardiff and Swansea currently are home to around 17,500 digital jobs, the real number could be as high as 40,000. According to David Warrender, CEO of Innovation Point (set up by the Welsh government to encourage the development of the tech industry), the number of tech companies in Wales is only going to grow. “I grew up in Wales, went away to university, looked around for things to do in Wales and couldn’t find what I wanted, so I moved away for many years. When I compare that with the opportunities in the Cardiff region for having a career in digital and technology now, [there is] a world of difference.” But why Wales? Stephen Thair, chief product officer at DevOpsGuys, believes that ‘cheaper office space’, ‘better relationships with regional government, local universities and local enterprise clients’ as well as ‘a better quality of life’ are all factors in drawing workers to Wales. “We are keen to build communities and see other tech businesses succeed,” he adds. “We will partner with local universities to help promote both innovation and commercialisation of those ideas. There are a lot of people who are working in London who want a better work/life balance, particularly as they establish families. They are often faced with being stuck in London or moving out of the tech industry completely if they move out. The more devolved the tech industry is the more opportunities there are to work in places with a better work/life balance and that’s great for the UK as a whole.”

Based in Cambridge, Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton has seen his company thrive both in Cambridge and his native Wales. “The presence of technology companies in an area can be a powerful engine of job creation, both directly (at the firm itself) and indirectly (though the firm’s upstream supply chain, and spending by employees),” he says. “Our partners Sony UK TEC in South Wales (where we build the Raspberry Pi) are a good example of this, to the extent that they are even considered to be an ‘anchor’ company by the Welsh Government.” It’s just as encouraging as you venture north. Manchester is fast becoming a technology hub, with more and more firms opting to relocate to the northwest city. The city’s thriving tech sector now accounts for nearly half of all enquiries for city centre office space. According to Colliers International around 40 per cent of new enquiries are coming from the tech industry and there are already around 63,000 tech related jobs in the city. Heading further north and the technology sector shows no signs of slowing down with Scotland also booming. Craig Hume, managing director of Utopia Computers, says: “Scotland is a great place to be in business. While sometimes we realise it would be nice to be able to easily attend more events or visit clients in London more regularly, the advantages of being based in Scotland far outweigh the disadvantages. The direct costs of running a business in London are substantially higher, the competition for skills is greater and many areas outside of the Capital are screaming to attract tech firms, meaning there are many benefits to be gained locating away from the city. He added: “While the political landscape is a mess at the moment, as we stand today it makes sense that we are seen as a digitally adept and innovative nation in order to attract great people and great businesses. In order for this to happen it must be nation wide and not isolated to one city.” www.pcr-online.biz


“The most important aspect is to ensure my entire team love what they do�

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Tech Talk

LIFE IN THE CHANNEL

Craig Hume We catch up with Utopia Computers boss Craig Hume about Premier League encounters and winning at the PCR Awards What does an average day look like for you? The best entrepreneurs have a great routine, from Jack Dorsey of Twitter to my mentor Phylip Morgan of Network Group. With this in mind I try and follow suit. My best days start when I wake early, getting time to organise my thoughts alongside some yoga is a sure fire way to an awesome day. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a big family guy, so there is no rushing off to work. I have breakfast with my kids and help get them ready for school. We all walk to school together and I continue on to Utopia. My first task is to check in with the team and see what’s planned for the day, how projects are progressing, what the status is on our sales pipeline as well as an update on any other news that might be going on in their lives. We are lucky to have a beautiful park just around the corner from Utopia, so enjoying a coffee and a walk is a great way to stop that mid-afternoon slump. Every day I finish by reading Utopia’s daily progress email collated by the entire team that keeps everyone up to date on anything exciting that has happened in the last 24 hours, before heading back home. What are the key aspects of your role? The most important aspect is to ensure my entire team love what they do. If I can achieve this everything else, like happy clients and perfect PCs, falls into place. What is the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you at work? We love it when cool clients come knocking on our door, like when Spurs needed laptops for their new VR

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experience, or more recently when we were commissioned to design the world’s fastest desktop PC and then there is Jim Knee from Kingston, when he turns up all the rule books are thrown out the window! What are some of the unique challenges that you face in your role? As one of the UK’s fastest growing system builders we face tough competition everyday. Maximising our marketing and building a brand that can not only be seen to compete with the big guys, but succeed at competing at the very highest level is always tough. As any MD will know the challenges are as varied as they are plentiful, but they will also tell you that they would not have it any other way. Tell us about a recent project you’ve worked on. It has to be the Sonox C4. This monster of a desktop PC was the most insane PC we have ever produced. It really was a feat of engineering alongside stepping into the unknown. Our client had faith in us and I had faith in my team. It was a lot of hard work, but the results speak for themselves. We are very proud to bring this system to market. How did you feel about winning at the PCR Awards earlier this year? Absolutely ecstatic! How should people get in touch with you? craig@utopiacomputers.co.uk, Telephone: 01563 590063, @craighume_.

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industryopinion

Ben Malka - EMEA community manager, HyperX

Helping mainstream brands penetrate the gaming industry Traditional marketing techniques must be put to one side if big brands want to capitalise on the growth of the gaming and esports market esports scene they need to put emphasis on providing for the IN RECENT years, the gaming industry has become community, rather than trying to bulldoze and take over. increasingly successful, with increased revenues, larger Non-gaming brands do not always understand that the audiences and a wider cultural acceptance. According to gaming industry has been built on a foundation of relentless Ukie, the global industry has an audience of between 2.2 dedication. In the early days of esports specifically, external and 2.6 billion people, and the market is expected to grow investment was practically non-existent. Gaming companies from $101.1bn in 2016 to $128.5 billion by the end of 2020. had to – and still do to an extent – rely on relationships with While the gaming industry has been evolving and influencers, partners, forums, as well as games development benefiting from this attention, so have the gamers, with the companies, in order to grow. typical perceptions and stereotypes shifting for the A good example of a company that has been better. No longer is the ‘gamer’ perceived as a socially awkward teen playing for endless “No longer is the successful in penetrating the gaming industry Monster, producer of energy drinks. hours in his parents’ basement – gaming is ‘gamer’ perceived as isMonster market more than just their gaining acceptance from mainstream a socially awkward products; they market an experience. They’re society, with professional gamers now known for hosting numerous events aimed recognised as athletes by big brands, such as teen playing for at bringing gaming enthusiasts together. Coca-Cola and Nissan. hours in his parents’ Organisations need to place more emphasis However, this exponential growth hasn’t basement” on branding as opposed to just selling products gone unnoticed. Mainstream brands are seeing if they want to be successful in the esports and the industry as a lucrative opportunity. Yet, the wider gaming arena. Brand first, product second. brands which are looking to transition are often not While the gaming community isn’t the easiest to taking an optimal approach. There have been numerous past understand, the attention it’s receiving from mainstream examples of large mainstream brands that have tried to simply throw large sums of money at the industry in the hope brands is certainly positive. Any attention the industry receives from larger non-gaming organisations should be that gamers respond positively. However, what’s become encouraged; not shunned. Collectively as gamers we can apparent is that traditional methods of marketing and help to educate and guide these organisations to integrate advertising aren’t nearly as effective as they may be in other and understand the industry from the perspective of a industries. Throwing money isn’t the answer. Instead, gamer, helping to further grow it and ensure its future organisations should look to adopt gamers’ values and success for many, many years to come. integrate with the community. When big brands enter the

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September 2017 | 13


industryopinion

Dave Sobel - senior director of community, Solarwinds

Getting ahead of the game Esports has presented a whole host of new opportunities for business – but you have to be smart about it years, with events moving from small community driven GAMING AND esports are a growing area of interest for ones to events with significant stakes and prize money. many. Major television networks such as ESPN are now New retail and gaming spaces have already started to covering events, and the Paris Olympic Committee has grow. A local university here recently had a new storefront indicated that they will be considering esports as a possible open entirely dedicated to gaming, with pay-as-you-go PC Olympic event in 2024. use for high-end gaming and sponsored events. This is Gaming has always brought interest in the IT space. clearly not the first, and, from a retail perspective, there There is a natural synergy with those who provide IT will be growing interest. Retailers who sell into the services and those interested in video gaming, and consumer space will have opportunity to sell gaming hardware manufacturers have expressed interest in gear, which often comes at a much higher this space for a long time. Dell’s purchase of premium than standard PC equipment. Alienware brought a major hardware vendor For the Channel, the model is more like into the space, and both Microsoft and Sony “For the Channel, selling to professional sports teams. Just have made considerable investments in the model is more like services would be required by a local both hardware and software in gaming. like selling to football or rugby club, an esports Software developers themselves have professional sports organisation will need similar hardware, started recognising the potential for software and services, but with significantly esports moving forward. Blizzard has teams” higher technical demand. Teams are known recently made a significant leap in the for providing housing and ‘training’ space approach of esports, with their creation of the – where training space is high-end gaming PC Overwatch League. Instead of team creation being systems, top of the line networks and high connectivity. organic, the teams are being formed by investors, and are This has opportunity for deployment of those systems and geographically based, aligning more with the professional networks, as well as ongoing management and security, with sports model. It’s a natural step, and for those watching, the custom requirements that require specialisation. likely future, as those with business interests look to bring This is certainly not a mass market space, but a space more investment and profit in the space. The rise of that those who enter have significant opportunity in. streaming services shows the appetite for content as well Understanding the requirements of the user base, – with both Microsoft and Google invested in this space. delivering on those requirements, and continuing to deliver The area is one of growth – esports has been support will offer opportunities for those who deliver. becomming more and more professional over the last 10

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industryopinion

Dominic Ashford - senior account manager, Gfk

Gaming can be a power-up for IT Business is booming in gaming and serves as a stark contrast to the difficulties facing IT as a whole 2016, but more that 70 per cent of gaming PCs have been IT’S NO secret that PC gaming is providing a boost for the sold online so far in 2017 and so it could be argued that IT market. This has been further underlined by the fact traditional retailers might find it more challenging to that sales of mobile and desk PCs marketed as gaming capitalise on the opportunities presented. In answer to this, devices have seen a year-on-year revenue increase of 72 per there are factors which in-store retailers should be cent in the first half of 2017. This is a welcome trend for a leveraging to their advantage. In a GfK Futurebuy PC market experiencing challenging conditions, and is survey, when asked what reasons contributed to particularly significant against a context of making an in-store purchase (for any product), increasing consumer uncertainty, with GfK’s the biggest factor given by consumers was consumer confidence index dropping to -12 “Gamers are willing ‘seeing and feeling before buying’. This in July. With the IT Channel also facing to pay more for factor should be a major reason for in-store pressures caused by rising prices, gaming is sales of gaming products, particularly an opportunity across various different products that accessories that offer upgrades in the product areas and channels. enhance the digital visualisation or interaction with games. The uplift provided by PC gaming isn’t experience” As with everything commercial, timing is limited to PCs, with the gaming keyboards a key driver of success with gaming hardware. and mice markets experiencing growth of 23 It will come as no surprise to learn that Black per cent and 16 per cent in the first half of 2017. Friday is significant to the gaming markets. The last Even more impressive is the market for gaming two years have demonstrated that this effect is growing, monitors which has seen value growth of 180 per cent however, with November 2016 being more significant than comparing the first half of 2017 with the equivalent period November 2015 for all the gaming markets mentioned of 2016. These accessory products demonstrate the above. Of particular note again is gaming monitors, for which premium that gaming can offer, as demonstrated by November of 2016 represented 16 per cent of all gaming gaming monitors which had an average selling price £82 monitors sales in 2016, up from 12 per cent year-on-year. higher than non-gaming equivalents in the first half of Overall, PC gaming is driving value across multiple areas 2017. Clearly, gamers are willing to pay more for products in IT, including ones not mentioned here. This is despite that enhance the digital experience. challenging conditions overall and rising prices in the One major difference between the markets is that Channel. This demonstrates the power of gaming as an gaming products are bought in a much higher proportion opportunity, particularly to drive revenue growth. than non-gaming. This gap has narrowed compared to

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September 2017 | 15


industryopinion

Steve Miller-Jones - senior director product management, Limelight Networks

Protecting your gaming content Gamers are among the most tech-savvy consumers out there, but they – along with the industry at large – are still vulnerable to cyber attacks gets flooded with attack traffic, it will not make a GAMING PLATFORMS and esports broadcasters are both difference. When a game is released, there needs to be a attractive to cyber criminals looking to launch an attack. solution that’s ready to deliver millions of copies. It not High profiles and large subscriber bases provide them with only needs to scale at launch, it also needs to flex for those a significant target for end user data harvesting, service unexpected spikes in demand. disruption and criminality. Ensuring a solution includes behaviour-based detection This year, we are seeing an evolution in DDoS attacks such techniques that can recognise application attacks is an as the recent issues with Final Fantasy. This is alerting game important consideration in your buying decision. Being able developers to reconsider their cybersecurity. These breaches to distinguish between attempted attacks and general occur from compromised systems, which are used to traffic is essential when catering to big audiences. create a botnet to flood a targeted system with an In the event of an attack, it is imperative to be overwhelming number of requests and traffic. “With the gaming informed of exactly what kind of attack it is. These aim to cause service outage on a mass While an attack can bring your gaming scale by flooding the platform with industry booming, platforms and esports streams down for unsustainable demands for requests and we expect cyberhours, the performance delays caused by traffic. The applications attacked are starved attacks to increase always-on scrubbing solutions can also lead of resources and performance and quality is over the next 18 to slower site performance. significantly degraded. Any solution to DDoS detection and With the gaming industry booming, we months” remediation must come with consideration for will undoubtedly see more sophisticated DDoS performance impacts and the end user’s campaigns, potentially during key events such as experience. A high-performing CDN should satisfy the new game launches. We expect the frequency of cyberalways-on detection requirement without any peacetime attacks to increase over the next 18 months, part of the performance penalty. Cloud security solutions provide reason being the ease by which attacks against web applications can be launched. To maintain brand reputation defensive protection for your website and your content regardless of what you are delivering from safeguarding a and continue driving revenue, game developers must video playback portal, to a game download origin. It’s harness the power of high performing networks that always wise to ensure that your CDN partner puts the safeguard their content. customer experience first, and that your gaming content is You could have the best on-premise security solution protected with premium security software. that money can buy, but if your connection to the Internet

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thebiginterview

“After almost a year and half in production, Pascal is now realising its full potential�

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Life at the top Nvidia has long been comfortable at the top of the gaming tree, but now for the first time in years, the company has genuine competition. Jonathan Easton speaks to Richard Lee, sales director of GeForce EMEAI, about what the company is doing to make sure it doesn’t let its position slip How has Nvidia’s year been so far? It’s been a busy year – fantastic, if anything. Following the launch of our Pascal architecture last year, we’ve seen some great innovative graphics cards come to market from our add-in card partners which continue to drive the components market. After almost a year and half in production, Pascal is now realising its full potential. Consumers now have a breadth of products to choose from to get the fastest, smoothest and most power-efficient gaming experiences. At Computex earlier this year, we introduced a couple of things. The first is a gigantic breakthrough with our new Max-Q design for gaming laptops. It’s a new approach to how high performance, thin gaming laptops are built and the results are impressive. A typical high-end system from only a few years ago was

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September 2017 | 19


thebiginterview

Above: Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang introduces the Nvidia SHIELD, the world’s first Android TV console, at the Game Developers Conference 2015 in San Frarncisco

20 | September 2017

over 50mm and 10 pounds. OEMs and system builders are now able to design a gaming notebook a third the size, three times the performance, half the weight, and based on a flagship GTX 1080 – delivering some truly amazing performance in a very thin and light platform. Gaming laptops are coming from every major OEMs utilising Max-Q design over the next few months, so it’s an exciting time if you’re in the market for a thin and light gaming laptop. The second announcement at Computex was the introduction of our first G-SYNC HDR gaming monitors. They basically combine the brightest panel, highest contrast ratio and cinema grade colour gamut for an unparalleled HDR gaming experience. Typical HDR TVs, for example, suffer from high input lag during HDR mode and do not support variable refresh rate for a smooth gaming experience – G-SYNC HDR, however, has been optimised to provide the best possible performance and gaming experience when in HDR mode. We work with the entire industry eco-system – that includes panelmakers and monitor OEMs – to engineer G-SYNC displays for the best quality and performance. There are three things that define G-SYNC displays. First is on-screen image quality – no tearing, stuttering or artifacts, but with advanced technologies, such as HDR, wide color gamut and Ultra Low Motion Blur. Second is performance – to deliver the highest refresh rates and minimise input

lag for responsive gaming across the full range of the monitor’s refresh rate from 0Hz to the maximum refresh rate. Last but not least is the GeForce platform as a whole– making sure everything works for the best end-to-end gaming experience, from the content, to the GPU, to the drivers to the display. And then certify it. At E3, we announced a partnership with Bungie, creators of the award-winning Halo and Destiny game franchises, and game publishing giant Activision, to bring the Destiny franchise to PC for the first time. Bungie has fully embraced the PC platform and taken advantage of the advanced technology features it provides, such as 4K resolution support, uncapped framerates, full mouse and keyboard support, adjustable field of view, etc. and we’ve worked closely with them to lend our gaming and PC development expertise to help bring these features to Destiny 2 and to maximise the performance benefits of the GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs. We’ve also added more features to our GeForce Experience software, with Nvidia Ansel and ShadowPlay Highlights. ShadowPlay is like a DVR for your game – it’s constantly recording your gameplay and with the touch of a button you can save the last few minutes of your game and share your best moments with your friends. It’s a popular feature and we see over 200 million videos created by gamers every year. We’ve now introduced even more functionality with ShadowPlay Highlights – it knows precisely when that magic moment will happen, whether it’s a boss fight or killing www.pcr-online.biz


“The global esports audience is expected to reach 385 million in 2017, with 191 million enthusiasts. That’s huge”

spree, and automatically records it and compiles it all into a highlight reel. When the session is over, you can then relive your victories or share them with friends via social channels. The beauty is you don’t have to do a thing – it’s all automatic. You’ll be able to experience this Highlights feature in the upcoming Raiders of the Broken Planet, Absolver and Lawbreakers. Nvidia Ansel is a powerful way to capture in-game photography. You can compose your shots from any position with free camera movement, set post-process images filters, shoot in super resolution HDR formats and then even share your images in 360 via your smartphone, PC or VR headset. There have been over a million images captured with Ansel so far from over a dozen titles and it will also become available in some upcoming games. It is supported in the Unity Engine and in the Unreal Engine as a plug-in and will also be coming to Amazon Lumberyard.GeForce remains the number-1 choice in PC gaming because it delivers the best gaming experiences. Over on the SHIELD side of our business, we announced the new SHIELD TV, designed for those wanting the best entertainment streaming experience. It offers 4K HDR support and enables a range of gaming experiences, such as GeForce NOW, our game-streaming service that connects SHIELD owners to Nvidia’s cloud-gaming supercomputers to play PC games easily and instantly, as well as the ability of stream games from your PC straight to your living room TV. And with its new AI home capability, you’ll be able to interact with content through the magic of AI from anywhere in the house.

from lighting and shading to hair, water, shadows, grass and fire. Our GameWorks technologies defines state of the art in gaming effects and is used in over a thousand games by the biggest developers in the industry as well as in all major game engines.

In general, how is the PC gaming market doing? PC gaming is thriving! At $100 billion, computer games is the world’s largest entertainment industry and continues to grow at an incredible rate. There were around 3,500 games released on the PC last year – that’s over three times any other platform. Immersive new gaming technologies like 4K, HDR and VR are all pioneered on the PC. There are also 100 million MOBA gamers in the world, double the number from just two years ago. GeForce is the largest gaming platform with around 200 million gamers and we’re lucky to have some of the most dedicated and passionate gamers in the PC industry. GeForce also offers the industry’s best special effects. We have over 300 visual computing engineers dedicated to creating the most realistic gaming effects,

Earlier this year, Nvidia announced a high-profile partnership with Nintendo, with CEO Jen-Hsun Huang saying that the partnership ‘will likely last two decades’. Have you been surprised by the overwhelming initial success of the Switch, and how will this partnership develop? The first thing to know about the new Nintendo Switch home gaming system is that it’s really fun to play. With great graphics, loads of game titles and incredible performance, the Nintendo Switch provides people with many hours of engaging and interactive gaming entertainment. But creating a device so fun required some serious engineering. The development encompassed 500 manyears of effort across every facet of creating a new gaming platform: algorithms, computer architecture,

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How big a driver is esports, and how big do you think it’ll be? Esports is an important business segment for Nvidia and GeForce GTX is the defacto gaming platform of choice for esports professionals worldwide. The top three most watched esports titles on Twitch are League of Legends, DotA2, and Counter-Strike: GO – titles that are only available on PC. The top world championship tournaments for these three titles are also played on GeForce GTX GPUs. We recently supported ‘The International’ DotA2 world championship, which had the world’s largest esports competitive prize pool of over $24 million. GeForce GTX and G-SYNC monitors are the official graphics platform of choice for The International. If you include both the onstage and the backstage warm up PCs, over 150 GTX 1080-based systems were used. Newzoo, one of the industry analysts that tracks and makes predictions on the growth of esports, published their 2017 report which highlighted that in 2017, the esports economy grow to $696 million, a year-on-year growth of 41.3 per cent. Brands will contribute $517 million in 2017 and brand investment will double by 2020. The global esports audience is expected to reach 385 million in 2017, with 191 million enthusiasts. That’s huge.

September 2017 | 21


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“VR will revolutionise how we interact with friends and family, how we consume entertainment, and how we get business done”

thebiginterview

system design, system software, APIs, game engines and peripherals. They all had to be rethought and redesigned for Nintendo to deliver the best experience for gamers, whether they’re in the living room or on the move. The Nintendo Switch has been a great showcase of both company’s technology. Last year saw the full 10 Series make the leap to notebooks and we just recently heard about the eGPU option for Titan X and Quadro desktop cards. How important is mobile to Nvidia? Well, there were more than 10 million gaming laptops sold in 2016 and it’s the fastest growing gaming platform with a market bigger than the Xbox One. Mobile is incredibly important for us as it’s a strong desire among gamers. Talk us through Nvidia’s efforts and commitments to VR and AR. From 3D gaming to product design, to cinematic experiences and beyond, VR will revolutionise how we interact with friends and family, how we consume entertainment, and how we get business done. But delivering VR is complex, especially since immersive VR requires seven times the graphics processing power compared to traditional 3D applications and games. We work with every part of the VR ecosystem to help deliver amazing experiences and our GPUs power the vast majority of the world’s pro and consumer VR-ready PCs. Our VRWorks SDK (a set of APIs, libraries and features) is used inside the world’s leading VR headsets, game engines, and apps to deliver physically realistic graphics, sound, touch, and behaviour to virtual worlds and it’s all powered by Pascal’s Simultaneous Multi-projection and Preemption architecture. With the 10 Series fully on the market, what’s next? Can we expect to see anything before the year’s end? We will see some great games come to PC this year, which we’re really excited about, and there should be plenty of choice for when you start drawing up your Christmas wish list. We will also be making a number of game partnership announcements at this year’s Gamescom, so stay tuned!

www.pcr-online.biz

September 2017 | 23


Report

CHANGER? Controversial Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is planning ‘great synergies’ between his existing businesses and Game. Rob Horgan weighs up what the business mogul can bring to the struggling retailer

H

E is a self-proclaimed ‘power drinker’, drops eye-watering sums in regular casino trips and has a habit of throwing up in fireplaces. Staff at his Sports Direct warehouse suffer poor working conditions and even worse wages, while fans of The Magpies regularly lambaste the actions of their boisterous owner. But despite his flaws – of which there are plenty – Mike Ashley is a shrewd businessman with a proven track record of spinning a profit against the odds. His Sports Direct empire is hugely successful. Between 2009 and 2014 the sportswear market in Britain grew only slightly in value as the country battled its way out of recession. Yet, over the same period, the revenue of Sports Direct, boosted by acquisitions, increased by around 40 per cent to £2.2 billion. Already one of Britain’s most successful retailers, Ashley’s latest venture sees him enter the gaming arena. Snapping up 26 per cent of struggling high street retailer GAME, Ashley could be the unlikely figure to breathe new life into the heavily depleted sector. It may seem like a distant memory now but in the late 80s and throughout the 90s, brick-and-mortar video game stores thrived on the high street. However, with the birth of the internet and the popularity of online shopping, gaming retailers have been hit hard. Many names, big and small, have exited the space, but GAME has hung on by the skin of its teeth, despite taking a number of damaging blows along the way. But with Ashley on board can GAME reassert itself as a high street giant? In a statement obtained by PCR from Sports Direct’s annual results meeting, Ashley told shareholders about his plans for GAME. “It appeals to me because I think that there could be some really great synergies with Sports Direct,” Ashley said during his presentation. “The strategic intent in acquiring the stake was to form a collaborative partnership to explore opportunities.” Singing very much from the same hymn sheet, a spokesperson for GAME added: “Game is looking forward to exploring the opportunities for

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Report

“It appeals to me because I think that there could be some really great synergies with Sports Direct� Mike Ashley


Report

GAME’s Belong arena stores show that the retailer already has an eye on esports

“The cross over of sport and gaming as a ‘one-stop shop’ could see the creation of Game concessions within larger Sports Direct stores” Daniel Todaro, Gekko managing director collaboration with Sports Direct in gaming, live events and esports. I think it is too early for GAME to comment on any specific collaboration. However, the group looks forward to working collaboratively with Sports Direct to explore the clear opportunities that a constructive partnership and collaboration can deliver for all stakeholders in the gaming, live events and rapidly growing esports markets in which it operates.” What those ‘great synergies’ prove to be remains to be seen. It could simply mean tying up distribution channels to keep costs down or sharing warehouses as another cost-cutting measure. Or maybe Ashley is planning to sell GAME products in Sports Direct and vice-versa, in his vision to create the ‘Selfridges of sport’. But more excitingly, it could mean that Sports Direct and GAME are about to collaborate on a joint esports venture. Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro agrees that an esports venture is a possibility, but feels that 26 | September 2017

collaboration is more likely to take place behind the scenes. “The crossover of sport and gaming as a ‘one-stop shop’ could see the creation of GAME concessions within larger Sports Direct stores,” he said. “However, I suspect the opportunity for Sports Direct is the joint distribution and e-commerce opportunities it offers both parties to supply games and sporting goods to a similar demographic, increasing average basket values and – more importantly – margin.” The presence of Ashley and Sports Direct will surely have a positive impact on the retailer’s presence in the world of esports. Since escaping financial trouble and subsequent relaunch in 2012, GAME has put a lot of effort into evolving its esports business. This became very apparent when the high street retailer forked out £20 million for esports and events firm Multiplay. The firm also launched a number of arena stores under the esportsfocused Belong brand as it looked for ways to evolve beyond the traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer. And judging by the market’s reaction, Ashley’s involvement spells good news for GAME. The presence of Ashley and Sports Direct is already having a strong impact, with GAME shares rising by more than 15 per cent to 28p on the news, and later trading at 26.5p (up 9.3 per cent), giving a market value of £47 million. But not everyone is convinced that Ashley is there to build GAME into an esports giant. GNR boss Dave Stevinson believes that Ashley simply couldn’t resist the bargain on the table. “Primarily, I believe it is at best a speculative move and at worst an opportunistic one,” he stated. “To capture a quarter of the company for circa £10 million looks a good deal. Yet, when we layer the business perspectives, the same primary sector of retail, a similar audience – young, predominantly male – the synergies become apparent.” Whichever direction GAME and Sports Direct take, having Ashley on board is bound to have a positive impact on the retailer. Whether or not we see esports tournaments taking place at St James’ Park remains to be seen, but even if it is just in connection to the power drinker’s latest binge, GAME with Mike Ashley on board is sure to make more than a few column inches in the weeks and months to come. www.pcr-online.biz


Gaming

Sponsored by

Turn back time From floppy disks to powerhouse processors, Rob Horgan turns back the clock to retrace how PC gaming became the defining force majeure it is today

Enter the Amstrad

The first ‘affordable’ PC capable of bringing gaming to the masses, the Amstrad CPC 464 set the groundwork for the gaming PC giants of today. Costing £359, users enjoyed games such as Bomb Jack and Contra. CGA graphics and 4MHz of power allowed for bigger, more technically complex games than ever before. Specs: Storage: Magnetic Tape CPU: 4MHz (Zilog Z80A) RAM: 64KB-128KB Graphics: CGA VRAM Resolution: 160x200

1984

Processor power

The early 90s saw CPU speeds go through the roof, with 66MHz 286 processors from big names like Intel and AMD at the forefront, and RAM running into megabytes. It allowed for a new era of gaming, typified by big names like Heretic, Raptor and the now iconic Doom. Specs: Storage: 1GB (Avg.) CPU: 66Mhz (Intel 286) RAM: 4MB Graphics: VGA Resolution: 320x220

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1993

Pentium on a pedestal

Crysis point

Specs: Storage: 10GB (Avg.) CPU: 233Mhz (Pentium II) RAM: 64MB Graphics: 16MB SVAG Resolution: 640x480

Specs: Storage: 200GB (Avg.) CPU: 2.8Ghz (Pentium 4) RAM: 2GB DDR2 Graphics: 512MB (ATi x1600) Resolution: 1280x1024

In late 1997, Pentium released its Pentium II processor, offering amazingly fast speeds of up to 450MHz without overclocking. Dedicated GPUs became a common addition for home PCs, offering 3D games like Half-Life that looked better than ever before.

1998

With more gamers opting for dual core processors and multiple GPUs, gaming PCs were pushed to their limits. The dawn of Crysis typified this, pushing the boundaries of what PC gaming could look like.

2004

2007

Home builders

By the early noughties, gamers were taking the machines into their own hands. With processors running at over 1GHz and RAM in the hundreds of megabytes, self-builds became far more popular and accessible. Multiplayer games were becoming more popular with Counter Strike leading the pack. Specs: Storage: 50GB (Avg.) CPU: 1.7GHz (Pentium 4) RAM: 512MB Graphics: 128MB Resolution: 1024x768

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Gaming

Getting to grips with graphics Pixel-smashing graphics cards became commonplace, with most gaming PCs packing quad core processors. 2014 also saw the release of affordable, powerful cards from Nvidia and AMD with the GTX 750Ti and the R9 270x packing serious punches without breaking the bank. Specs: Storage: 1TB (Avg.) | CPU: 3.0GHz+ (Quad i5 4430) RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Graphics: 2GB GDDR5 (GTX 760) Resolution: 3820x2160

2011

Budget breakthrough

As developers started to struggle to squeeze more power out of aging, cheaper parts, PC gaming on a budget really kicked off. Falling costs of dual and quad core processors and the ability to hold onto GPUs for longer kept specs and performance high, while maintaining lower prices. Games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim typified this, with mods and enhanced visuals making the PC many gamers’ platform of choice. Specs: Storage: 750GB (Avg.) CPU: 2.8Ghz (Core 2 Duo) RAM: 4GB DDR3 Graphics: 1GB GDDR5 (GTX 650) Resolution: 1920x1080

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2014

Into the crystal ball

Looking ahead five years, Ben Miles at Chillblast expects to see more cores added to processors, modest uplifts in clockspeeds and ramped up memory density. VRAM will continue on its current aggressive trajectory, as 8K gaming will become the high end and 4K the mainstream. SSD hybridisation will become standard and the demise of the standalone internal soundcard is in the offing. Half-Life 3 still won’t be out. Specs: Processor: Intel Core i7-15700K CPU, 64 Cores, 4.5 - 5.2GHz Motherboard: ASUS Republic of Gamers Z1070I-STRIX Motherboard Memory: 128GB DDR6 6399MHz Memory (2 x 64GB Sticks) Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1880 Ti 128GB

2017

2025

Present day power towers

With VR and 4K becoming more affordable, PC gaming is moving into a new world. Gaming laptops are also slimming down to finally make them more practical. But power towers are still at the top of their game. Market leaders include the Alienware Aurora R5 and MSI Trident 3, while in terms of games Prey and the seventh incarnation of Resident Evil top the charts. Specs: Storage: 1TB CPU: 4.0GHz (Intel Core i5-7400 – i7-6700K) RAM: 8GB – 16GB Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Resolution: 3820x2160

September 2017 | 29


specialreport

“The rise of esports and streaming has made PC gaming one of the world’s most dynamic industries” George Majoros Jr., EagleTree Capital

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specialreport

Scratching the surface Jonathan Easton takes a look at the incredible growth of the esports market and asks how the Channel can capitalise on the rapidly increasing interest “I THINK THAT the penny is starting to drop,” says Stuart Jarvis, gaming business development manager at Westcoast. “Esports is not going away and it is only going to get larger over the coming years.” It was not one, but two pennies that dropped in July as both Corsair and GAME saw major investments. The latter (as discussed further on Page 24) announced that Sports Direct – and with it the controversial figure of Mike Ashley – had bought a 26 per cent stake of the company, while the former had a majority stake bought by private equity firm EagleTree Capital for $525 million. The thing these deals had in common: esports. Highlighting the potential of the ‘rapidly growing esports markets’, GAME made it clear that it was central to the agenda. Equally, EagleTree co-managing partner George Majoros Jr. pointed to the flourishing market. “The rise of esports and streaming has made PC gaming one of the world’s most dynamic industries,” he says. But these deals don’t exist in isolation. They are largely indicative of what’s to come, believes TP Link retail sales director Lino Notaro. “Esports is, no doubt, currently the fastest growing trend in gaming,” he says. “I can foresee more and more blue chip firms wanting to get involved. This ‘niche hobby’ is now part of the cultural mainstream in the UK, and consequently it is able to deliver a large captive market and great brand exposure for new entrants.” Esports presents a brand new avenue of potential revenue and interest, and huge organisations are already taking advantage, whether through acquisitions or

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sponsorships. Corsair itself believes that its acquisition is one in a long line of deals that will see companies get involved. “Massive brands such as Coca Cola and Pepsi already have well developed esports portfolios and it’s only a matter of time before more and more companies look to esports and PC gaming to engage with a whole new generation of customers,” says Harry Butler, PR and marketing communications director at the vendor. That said, the UK is still playing catchup when it comes to esports. “The UK is actually still behind some of our European cousins such as Spain and Germany, not to mention America and Asia,” adds Notaro. “The UK still has a huge untapped potential, but it’s not an overnight thing. ESL’s UK strategy for example is a very long term one. Despite continually achieving UK firsts on a regular basis, we’re still scratching the surface,” adds ESL UK managing director James Dean. Being behind at this point isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, points out Butler, as it means there is ‘huge room for growth’ – in particular for retailers. The big sentiment among the industry is that retailers will see success in this burgeoning market if they can give prospective purchasers hands-on experiences with the products that the pros are using. This gives specialist indie retailers the upper hand over online. “Indies may not be able to compete on price with etailers,” accepts Mark Laurie, marketing director at system builder, Utopia Computers. “But they can absolutely win on having gamers try the kit before they buy it. There’s no substitute for a hands on experience.”

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specialreport

“Specialist gaming retailers have an opportunity to attract casual or aspiring gamers, by providing the opportunity to use premium/professional gaming equipment which would not otherwise be available to them at home,” agrees Notaro. The face of gaming retail is already starting to change to reflect this. GAME has its own Belong Arenas in over 15 of its stores. Each has a unique team name and emblem. These types of setup are a ‘great opportunity’ to try before you buy, thinks HyperX EMEA community manager Ben Malka. “As a gamer myself, I need to be able to touch, feel and play with products before I decide to purchase them. By bringing the gaming experience in-store, gamers are able to immerse themselves in the experience. Not only can they play newly launched gaming titles, but they can also decide on which

“The UK still has a huge untapped potential” James Dean, ESL UK

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headset, keyboard or mouse is best suited to their comfort and accuracy, as well as the type of platform the peripheral is most compatible with, be it console, PC, or even mobile.” There are potential pitfalls here though, with Yoyotech’s CK Kohli noting that ‘the challenge with creating high street gaming arenas is that in order to work, they need to be in the most expensive parts of the city with a concentrated population’. He adds: “It’s hard to see a new brand penetrating this market in competition against GAME.” However, while there will always be enthusiasts, semipros and the like going to traditional retailers, for the Channel. ‘the model will be more like selling to professional sports as the market matures’, predicts SolarWinds senior director of community Dave Sobel. “Just like services would be required by a local football club or rugby team, an esports organisation will need similar hardware, software and services – but likely with significantly higher technical demand,” Sobel says. For now though the penny will continue to drop in the UK as more money is invested in and generated by esports. The market presents serious opportunity and potential for the Channel and it will be a growing force for years to come.

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Levelling up gaming retail The gaming market is a constant area of growth, and distributors are vital to ensuring that continues. Jonathan Easton speaks to Exertis’ head of PC gaming, Ross Holt about what the company is doing to capitalise on demand and provide retailers with the products they need How important is gaming to Exertis? Very important, it’s a key driver for growth both strategically and in terms of revenue. The PC gaming market is growing fast and has grown around 60 per cent in volume and value over the last 18 months. Despite the general downturn in the computing market, PC gaming continues to grow with esports and VR driving demand. Our components business has also benefited as gamers upgrade their PCs. In addition, consoles are still very much at the heart of our offering with our direct partnerships with Microsoft (we are an exclusive distributor for Xbox) and Nintendo. What are the areas of focus for Exertis in gaming? We’re aligned with the best PC gaming vendors, ASUS, Acer and MSI all powered by the latest generation of Intel Core Processors and Nvidia graphics cards, as well as providing the most immersive visual platforms from industry leading vendors Samsung, LG and AOC. We also have an unparalleled range of embedded systems, components, VR and MR via our tier one partnerships, associated peripherals from mice to specialist chairs and digital game sales. The ongoing success of the Nintendo Switch shows that mobile console gaming still has an important place in the market. Xbox One X due out later this year (along with our existing Xbox One business) will also command

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huge focus from the group. Essentially, every aspect of gaming is important to our business and with our infrastructure, and specialised knowledge, we are well placed to help support and drive the market. Is there more areas for growth within the PC or console gaming markets? It’s fair to say that the Switch defied the predictions of many analysts (as we knew it would), and with the new Xbox coming soon we expect that to be a big success as well. It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s incoming system has specs to rival and match many gaming PCs. Gaming on both PC or console will continue to grow in tandem, largely as a result of increasing interest in esports, which is experiencing high levels of investment and support from all our key gaming brands. What services does Exertis offer its clients that are specific to gaming? We have an established digital distribution business founded upon direct relationships with nearly all of the most important developers and publishers. Our hardware offering is second to none across all aspects of gaming (console and PC) in Europe, with a strong presence in the UK and Nordics in particular. We have also invested in a state-of-the-art demo suite to showcase our gaming portfolio at our Harlow office.

www.pcr-online.biz


Gaming

“PC gaming can be a minefield for new entrants who do not understand the market and its enthusiasts�

Talk us through some of the vendor partners you are working with. Where do I start? We have an excellent portfolio of market leading vendors that provide a wide range of products (hardware, software, peripherals, accessories) for the first-time gamer to the hardened enthusiast. We work closely with our key OEM partners Nvidia, Intel and Microsoft to develop our gaming strategy. We also maintain close working relationships with Oculus, Asus, Acer, MSI, Corsair, Samsung, AOC, LG, Turtlebeach and Thrustmaster to name but a few, in order to drive foraward our mutual goals. How can retailers take advantage of the growing demand for gaming? First off, speak to your Exertis account manager. PC gaming can be a minefield for new entrants who do not understand the market and its enthusiasts. Putting the right proposition together is critical. Consumer education, and in turn reseller education, is key. This is where we differentiate ourselves in the Channel, as well as providing unique retail services and bundling opportunities, and a digital distribution solution that takes advantage of the demand for digital downloads with an in-store or online solution.

www.pcr-online.biz

September 2017 | 35


Interview

“I’m absolutely comfortable in saying that esports is of paramount importance” Craig Booth, head of Product and Marketing, Acer

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Interview

mobile Make mine

At IFA 2015, Acer made its play for the gaming laptop space. Two years after the birth of Predator, Jonathan Easton speaks with head of Product and Marketing Craig Booth, about the market and how esports will be key going forwards

WHEN YOU THINK of a gaming PC, you think of a desktop. You think of a hulking great and often unsightly tower with dozens of cables coming out of it, a system that is immobile and largely impractical to the majority of people who are used to the sleek, streamlined tech we are accustomed to in 2017. Acer was not the first major vendor to fly the flag for PC gaming on a portable scale, but over a relatively short period of time it’s become one of the premier names in gaming notebooks. Launching the Predator brand in 2015, the company has put a great emphasis in notebooks and the reasoning behind that is actually fairly uncomplicated. “The simple rationale,” says head of product and marketing Craig Booth, “is that if a gamer wants a desktop they will often do a self build. They will spec it up, design it and want it built to order, whereas in laptops they are more likely to take an off-the-shelf package. You get a very technologically savvy consumer in the gaming market.” Simply put, gamers are smart shoppers. They know what they want and they know how much it costs. If they’re looking at a desktop system from an OEM they

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will know how good each of the components are, how much all of those components would cost separately, and, most of the time, will know that they can get a better deal by going off the beaten track. They may go to a specialist system builder for the convenience of not having to put everything together themselves, but by and large – as Booth notes – most will be customised for a tailored purchase. And that’s not the only reason why laptops present a greater opportunity in the gaming market. “It’s also recognising that the greater percentage of the market for gaming PCs actually sits in the mobile rather than the desktop space. Whether or not that will stay the same for us in the future I don’t know, but for the time being with our investment in product development, R&D and technology it makes sense to invest in mobile platforms than it does desktops – but that’s not to forget we have a fantastic product pedigree in Desktop and Display, as well as Mobile.” With the medium explained, justified and exemplified in a range of critically acclaimed notebooks, Booth says that the firm has its aspirations set on more than just the traditional gamer. “I’m

September 2017 | 37


Interview

absolutely comfortable in saying that esports is of paramount importance. It’s probably, immediately and for the absolute foreseeable future, the single most important thing for us to be involved in. “We’ve already been involved in many esports events over the past 12 months and we will continue to do that with our partners Nvidia, Intel and Microsoft. It is of paramount importance and the reason is the reach it already has. In terms of audience, less than 1 per cent will be sat in an arena at an esports event. The vast majority will be watching on their PCs. For us we can activate an event, whether it be the Red Bull Kumite events we’ve been involved in in Paris, or events we’ve been involved with in Poland, and that doesn’t just mean that we’re addressing an audience in those countries. Esports is worldwide.” While esports is at the top of the zeitgeist right now, this time a year ago all anyone was talking about was virtual reality. In fact, last summer when Nvidia launched its GeForce GTX 10 Series GPUs for notebooks – with VR capabilities being front-andcentre of proceedings – Acer was one of the first OEMs to jump on board. In the interim period, the great media buzz has cooled somewhat, but Booth feels that the ‘democratisation of MR and VR’ will need to happen over the coming months to make the technology more accessible. “What I believe will

happen over the next 12 to 24 months is that we will see more mass-market offerings and solutions that are more easily understood and, from a pound-in-yourwallet point of view, more accessible”. Acer has its own headset which is set to launch in time for the holiday season, but we will hear more about that – along with the company’s grander gaming strategy moving forward – at IFA this month. For now what is clear is that Acer is taking gaming very seriously and has a long-term plan to become a dominant force in the gaming market, a plan that is perfectly encapsulated by the ostentatious Predator 21 X that was shown off CES earlier this year. “It was absolutely a statement piece. Products such as that are partly designed to help us raise awareness of Acer’s position in the gaming market and make a statement about our intentions,” Booth adds. “It made a very big difference to us this year in terms of a statement that we wanted to make about gaming and that was what we wanted to get out of it. We achieved everything we wanted to and more out of that device.” It may seem like something of an irony that the 8.8kg, 21-inch notebook has become the centrepiece for a company that is looking to portray portable PC gaming as a serious alternative to the traditional desktop, but the point still stands that with Predator, Acer isn’t playing any games.

Acer’s Predator 21X notebook has become the centrepiece for the company

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New Products

Galaxy Note 8 SRP: £869.00 OUT: September 15

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Unveiled on August 23, Samsung’s latest flagship Galaxy Note 8 is set to go on sale in early September. Following the exploding battery fiasco that surrounded the Note 7, Samsung has assured customers and retailers alike that the Note 8 has no such faults. Equipped with the Galaxy’s stylus – the S-Pen – the Note 8 will feature another infinity screen with pixel-sense 4K resolution and a 6.4-inch display. The phone will run on the Exynos 8895 processor, while happy snappers will be excited to see a dual-lens camera with 3x optical zoom strapped onto the rear.

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SNES Classic Mini SRP: £69.99 Out: September 29 Nintendo has confirmed it will be launching a retro console for the second year running. The SNES Classic Mini is Nintendo’s miniature version of its iconic 16-bit ‘Super Nintendo Entertainment System’ and there will be 21 games on offer, including iconic titles such as Super Mario World, The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, and the previously unreleased Star Fox 2. A sure fire hit for the holiday season – if you can get a hold of one. www.pcr-online.biz


New Products

LG V30

Atari Flashback

SRP: £540.00 Out: September 7

SRP: £59.99 Out: September 7

Releasing its second flagship phone of the year, the LG V30 is the latest in the ‘V’ line of devices. With a 6-inch display and an 18:9 aspect ratio, LG has followed the latest trend an opted for an OLED screen. The phone will also be compatible with Google’s Daydream VR headset.

Featuring 60 classic Atari games, the Flashback Portable is reseructing some retro favourites such as Frogger and Pong. More games can be downloaded online and saved onto an SD card. The Flashback features a 3.2-inch LCD display, rechargeable battery and USB adaptor.

ZenBook Flip S SRP: £855 OUT: September 14 ASUS’s latest 2-in-1, the ZenBook Flip S, comes with a 13.3-inch display panel giving users not only a sufficient working space but it’s also small enough to be a comfortable hold while in tablet mode. The hinges turn 360 degrees with just 6.11mm of bezel width.

www.pcr-online.biz

Cleer NEXT SRP: $699.00 Out: September 21 The latest entry to Cleer’s high-range headphones product line sees the NEXT hit the market. Featuring an open-back, alloy structure with an ironless magnesium driver, the NEXT headphones provide high-resolution sound with 30 times less distortion at higher volumes. In addition, the unit uses soft-touch sheepskin and memory foam earpads and headband for extra comfort. September 2017 | 43


Gaming gear

From keyboards to microphones and everything in between, PCR rounds up the latest products giving gamers the edge

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Sector Guide

XTRFY M3 Heaton

Cherry MX Board 6.0

Distributor: Spire SRP: £64.00 Specs: Optical gaming mouse, 4000 DPI, omron switches, five buttons

Distributor: Exertis, Northamber, Westcoast SRP: £142.00 Specs: Cherry MX technology, Gold Crosspoint precision module for all keys, RealKey technology, full N-Key rollover, 100 per cent anti-ghosting

The M3 is built with top-grade components to ensure consistent, high-level performance. Developed by Emil Christensen, esports pioneer, founder of Ninjas in Pyjamas and one of the most successful Counter-Strike Global Offensive players of all time, the M3 has a unique ergonomic shape, designed to fit a user’s hand naturally and give extra control.

The Cherry MX Board 6.0 combines MX technology and Cherry RealKey technology in one pure design. The keyboard is built to be precise, uncompromising, and fast. With full N-Key rollover all keys are simultaneously read to improve gaming experience.

Roccat Leadr

Blue Microphones Snowball iCE

Distributor: Meroncourt SRP: £129.99 Specs: ROCCAT Owl-Eye optical sensor, 12000dpi resolution, 14 ergonomic mouse buttons, 32-bit processor and 512kb memory

Distributor: CMS Distribution SRP: £49.99 Specs: Frequency response rate 40 –18 kHz, sample/ word rate: 44.1 kHz/16 bit

The Leadr gaming mouse gives users the freedom of wireless with the performance of wired. It incorporates wireless technology and an optimised Owl-Eye optical sensor. Zero lag and with virtually zero latency, it features a docking station with a top-cup cable for use as a wired mouse. www.pcr-online.biz

The Snowball iCE makes it faster and easier to get high-quality sound for recording and streaming. Powered by a custom cardioid condenser capsule, Snowball iCE delivers crystal-clear audio quality. It guarantees great-sounding results no matter how or where you use it.

September 2017 | 45


Sector Guide

AOC AGON AG251FG Distributor: VIP, Exertis, Tech Data SRP: £649.00 Specs: 24.5-inch, 240 Hz, 1 ms response time, Nvidia G-Sync, shadow control

Gaming gear

AOC’s fastest Nvidia G-Sync-enabled gaming monitor boasts a refresh rate of 240Hz. The AG251FG comes with several premium features including an Ergo Dial Base, a retractable headset holder and a carrying handle. AOC Flicker Free and Shadow Control are among other features.

46 | September 2017

D-Link DIR 895L Ultra Wi-Fi Router Distributor: Exertis SRP: £299.00 Specs: 1.4GHz dual core processor, 4x4 data streams, Mu-Mimo technology, SmartConnect The DIR-895L offers the latest wireless technology including 4K streaming, tri-band performance and Smart Connect technology for an optimised, fast, and high-quality gaming experience. Smart Connect means that the router automatically selects one of the three Wi-Fi bands on offer, based on the usage desired for the unique activity.

Corsair Strafe Distributor: CMS Distribution SRP: £95.99 Specs: Cherry MX switches, 100 per cent anti-ghosting, textured and contoured keycaps, FPS & MOBA keycap sets The Strafe gaming keyboard comes with 100 per cent Cherry MX key switches to deliver the ultimate competitive advantage. Dynamic backlighting enhances the experience with virtually unlimited lighting adjustability. The keyboard is fully programmable so that users can reassign any key or set up the most extreme macros for effortless gaming.

Razer ManO’War Distributor: Caseking SRP: £99.99 Specs: 50 mm Neodymium magnet drivers, 7.1 surround sound, 14 hours uninterrupted of play The Razer ManO’War wireless PC gaming headset with gaming grade lag-free 2.4 GHz wireless technology immerses gamers in 7.1 surround sound. Simply plug-and-play with the ultra-compact wireless USB adapter or use the included extension dock for the extended range of 14 meters.

www.pcr-online.biz


Under the hood 48 | September 2017

Ballistix Sport LT DDR4

Ballistix Tactical DDR4

Distributor: Tech Data, Ci Distribution SRP: £38.39 Specs: Module density: 4-16GB, speeds: 2400, 2666 MT/s, custom heat spreader designs

Distributor: Tech Data, Ci Distribution SRP: £45.59 Specs: Module density: 4-16GB, speed: 2666, 3000 MT/s

The Ballistix Sport DDR4 is ideal for gamers and performance enthusiasts. Its four channel memory architecture maximises data rates and it has speeds up to 2666 MT/s. The kits come in a range of colours to choose from with the digital cam heat spreader available in white, grey and red.

The Ballistix Tactical DDR4 comes with dual and four channel memory architecture and maximises data rates while the certified Intel XMP 2.0 profiles allow for easy setup. Speeds start at 2666 MT/s and the modules have gunmetal grey heat spreaders with black PCB.

Ballistix Elite DDR4

ASRock X299 Taichi Extreme

Distributor: Tech Data, Ci Distribution SRP: £45.59 Specs: Module density: 4-16GB, speed: 2666, 3000, 3200, 3466, 3600 MT/s

Distributor: Mentor SRP: £299.99 Specs: Intel X299, Triple M.2, 3-Way SLi/ CrossFire, 8 x DDR4 DIMM

The Ballistix Elite kits reach speeds up to 3600 MT/s and the thermal sensor allows for realtime temperature monitoring. These kits are perfect for gaming pros and overclockers. It comes with a black anodised heat spreader with aggressive militaristic styling.

Designed with a 13 Power Phase design, this motherboard features sturdy components and completely smooth power delivery to the CPU. Plus it offers unmatched overclocking capabilities and enhanced performance with the lowest temperature for advanced gamers.

www.pcr-online.biz


Sector Guide

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB Distributor: CMS Distribution SRP: £169.99 Specs: 16GB (2x8GB), speed: 3200MHz, tested latency: 16-18-18-36, voltage: 1.35V Vengeance LPX memory is designed for highperformance overclocking. The heat spreader is made of pure aluminium for faster heat dissipation, and the eight-layer PCB helps manage heat and provides superior overclocking headroom. Each IC is individually screened for performance potential.

ASUS ROG Strix X299-E Gaming Distributor: Spire, VIP, Tech Data, Exertis SRP: £299.99 Specs: Intel Core X Series processor family, onboard M.2 Heatsink, five-way optimisation ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is loaded with powerful tuning, overclocking, cooling and personalisation innovations to make home builds as agile as any gamer’s ambition. ROG engineering ingenuity has been included in a standout ATX motherboard that’s kitted out with superior SupremeFX audio for deeper ingame immersion.

Gigabyte Aorus Geforce GTX 1070

Zotac GTX 1080 Ti amp! Extreme

Distributor: Target SRP: £599.99 Specs: Thunderbolt 3 plug and play, supports Quick Charge (QC 3.0) and power delivery (PD 3.0)

Distributor: Exertis SRP: £799.99 Specs: GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, video memory 11GB GDDR5X, 1645 MHz engine clock bass

Powered by Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 overclock edition graphics card, the Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box turns your ultrabook, laptop or PC into a full-on gaming platform, delivering incredible performance for graphicsintensive and VR-ready games. And with Gigabyte’s thermal and overclocking technology, users can enjoy maximum performance in a quiet environment.

The Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the new flagship gaming graphics card for Zotac. Based on the award-winning NVIDIA Pascal architecture, it is packed with an incredible amount of cores and buffed with 11GB of ultra-fast GDDR5X memory, and the sheer force combines to deliver unprecedented gaming performance.

www.pcr-online.biz

September 2017 | 49


Desktop cooling and cases 50

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be quiet! Pure Base 600 Window Distributor: Spire, Ingram Micro SRP: £94.99 Specs: Two Pure Wings 2 fans, 492x220x470mm, no PSU Pure Base 600 offers a great deal of functionality and features at an attractive price. Smart usability features and whisper-quiet operation enable users to realise almost any system configuration they desire for ATX or micro ATX PCs.

be quiet! Silent Loop Distributor: Spire, Ingram Micro SRP: £109.99-149.99 Specs: Available in 360mm, 280mm, 240mm, and 120mm. Decoupled reverse-flow, copper radiator Silent Loop brings be quiet!’s whisper-silent technology to the world of all-in-one water cooling. Thanks to the decoupled reverse-flow pump, Silent Loop cools ultra-quiet and with almost no vibration. No compromises are required when choosing to water-cool demanding systems and heavily overclocked CPUs.

In Win 303 Nvidia Edition Midi Tower ATX Case

In Win 301 Mini-ITX Mini Tower PC Case

Distributor: Mentor SRP: £119.99 Specs: M/B compatibility, compatible with ATX, Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX. Front ports: two x USB 3.0, two x USB 2.0

Distributor: Mentor SRP: £79.99 Specs: Tempered glass, SECC, VGA card length: 330mm

In Win and Nvidia have created a limited edition version of the 303 ATX, a simple, yet elegant computer chassis crafted from premium SECC steel and 3mm tempered glass. The distinctive clean front panel is complemented with a bright LED design to balance the overall appearance of the case.

September 2017

The clean-cut appearance of the In Win 301 displays the craftsmanship of the case. With 3mm tinted tempered glass, the 301 allows users to admire their builds inside and out. And the tool-less feature doesn’t even require thumbscrews with its elegant tempered glass side panel.

www.pcr-online.biz


Sector Guide

Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Case

ARCTIC Freezer 33 eSports Edition

Distributor: Target SRP: £53.99 Specs: Motherboard support: ATX, MicroATX, Mini-ITX, seven expansion slots, 400mm maximum card length

Distributor: CI Distribution, GNR SRP: £44.99 Specs: Silent 3-phase motor, 200–1800 RPM (PWM control), Patented PWM Sharing Technology (PST)

The MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Case has a sleek DarkMirror front panel and three custom trim colours (included in the box). The spacious interior features black coating and a PSU cover that allows for easy, clean configurations. Additionally, it comes with an edge-to-edge transparent acrylic side panel to show internal components. With support for up to four cooling fans and a watercooling system, performance won’t suffer.

The Freezer 33 eSports Edition is a Tower CPU cooler with Push-Pull-Configuration. Two silent fans with a three-phase motor, mounted on opposite sides of the radiator, guarantee long gaming sessions without annoying noise. With a high range of RPM, the BioniX F120 fans are controllable with PST to regulate the fan speeds as needed.

Corsair H100i V2

Corsair Obsidian 900D

Distributor: CMS Distribution, Exertis SRP: £119.99 Specs: Two 120mm high torque fans, fan airflow: 70.69 CFM, fan static pressure: 4.65 mmH2O

Distributor: Exertis SRP: £328.99 Specs: Ten expansion slots, fits up to nine hard drives or SSDs, with three hot-swap mounts, four 5.25-inch optical drive bays

The H100i V2 is an all-in-one liquid CPU cooler for cases with 240mm radiator mounts. The 240mm radiator and dual SP120L PWM fans provide excellent heat dissipation for highly overclocked CPUs. Corsair Link is built in, so users can monitor temperatures, adjust cooling performance and customize LED lighting.

www.pcr-online.biz

The Obsidian Series 900D case is for serious builders with big projects. With tool-free side panel access, hard drive installation, and optical drive installation, reconfigurations and upgrades are made simpler than ever. Inside, there’s a CPU backplate cutout and rubber grommets on the cable routing holes. There is also generous cable routing space behind the motherboard tray.

September 2017 | 51


Connect with Europe’s first and only AV resource dedicated to end users For advertising opportunities contact: Gurpret Purewal gpurewal@nbmedia.com or Ollie Smith osmith@nbmedia.com +44 (0)20 7354 6026

Launching September 2017‌ Sign up now

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IN MY TEAM

PCR speaks with marketing executive Jennifer Eltringham about recent acquisitions and expansion plans

CMS Distribution Who is the ‘team joker’? Who’s in your team and what do they do? Jamie Carr (no relation to Jimmy) is our practical joker, learnt Our retail team spans several locations around the world, and this from too many years at his local rugby club. He’s the source of photo was taken at a recent retail meeting in London. It includes mischief in our Stevenage office and never misses the opportunity Darren Payton (commercial director), Julia Johansson (marketing to don some fancy dress. director), Frinos Constantinou (retail sales director), Luke Noonan (sourcing director), Ivan Eustace (business unit Who is the best team player? director), David Elder (retail managing director), hard to pick out a single person, but a couple of Arnaud Bonvarlet (director European business “There is a gap It’speople we would like to mention are Darren development), Vishal Patel (account manager), in the market for Payton and Paul Nevitt. Darren is our Stuart Borst (commercial operations manager), commercial director, he loves all aspects of Urvisha Patel (sales support), Ian Payne (retail a dynamic VAD emerging tech and has a knack for spotting the planning manager), Paul Nevitt (sales manager), with geographical next big thing. Paul is a sales manager, and is Meer Shah (account manager) and Jennifer spread” very valuable to the team. He takes all the young Eltringham (marketing executive). account managers under his wing, teaching them the systems and the CMS processes involved. Who has been in the team for the longest/shortest period of time? What do you have coming up in the next 12 months? Stuart Borst has been at CMS for 23 years! Our most recent European growth will be a significant focus for the year ahead, we addition is Jordan Druce who joined in November 2016. want to present ourselves as a company with a pan-European footprint. There is definitely a gap in the market for a dynamic What are you currently working on? VAD with geographical spread. Since the recent acquisition of Ireland-based TNS Connect in We see a future where everyone knows that CMS connects the February this year, we have been working hard to integrate the best technologies to the smartest customers. teams and to educate our customers on the new products.

Contact: Jennifer Eltringham email: jennifer.eltringham@cmsdistribution.com tel: +44 20 8962 2552 www.pcr-online.biz

September 2017 | 53


<Logging off>\\

<Platinum takes gold > Platinum Components has been running to raise money for charity. Throughout the year, the team has been carrying out a monthly event for a different cause. The latest fundraiser saw the team lace up their trainers for a 10k run. Charities included Cancer Research, Southampton Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hospital, BHF and YMCA.

Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s who? Jonathan Easton Editor jeaston@nbmedia.com Rob Horgan Deputy Editor rhorgan@nbmedia.com Dan Bennett Designer dbennett@nbmedia.com Jason Dowie Production Executive jdowie@nbmedia.com Gurpreet Purewal Sales Manager gpurewal@nbmedia.com Ollie Smith Account Manager osmith@nbmedia.com Dana Radu Sales Executive dradu@nbmedia.com

<Simply red>

James McKeown Content Director jmckeown@nbmedia.com

On October 19th, hundreds of people around the UK will be donning red as part of Red Trouser Day 2017. Started last year by bowel cancer survivor Paul Finch, a member of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Red Trouser Day focuses on aiding research at The Royal Marsden in London. Among those taking part last year were Dell, OpenText and Cushman Wakefield.

Stuart Moody Head of Operations smoody@nbmedia.com Caroline Hicks Events Director chicks@nbmedia.com Mark Burton Managing Director mburton@nbmedia.com

Send stories to Rob Horgan rhorgan@nbmedia.com

NEXT MONTH The Audio Issue Listen up! October will see PCR delve into the world of audio. Everything from high-end speakers to the latest headphones and microphones will be put through their paces as we examine the exciting market. With the rise of IoT and the home smart speaker, there will be plenty to explore with Alexa, Siri and Bixby sure to have their say. Elsewhere we will be asking how to make money out of Blutooth headphones and speakers, and rounding up the hottest products on show at IFA 2017.

54

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September 2017

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ISSN: 1742-8440 Copyright 2017 PCR is published 12 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU

The Emerson Building, 4th Floor 4-8 Emerson Street. London, SE1 9DU All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of [brand] are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA


It’s what’s on the inside that counts... Be sure to excel in all gaming pursuits with our superior range of PC components. Our partnerships with the likes of Intel®, NVIDIA® and Corsair ensure that we have an unrivaled portfolio of components and peripherals ideally suited to high-end PC gaming.

ASUS ROG STRIX GEFORCE GTX 1080TI GRAPHICS CARD

MSI X299 RGB GAMING PRO CARBON AC MOTHERBOARD

HYPERX CLOUD REVOLVER S 7.1 DOLBY HEADSET

INTEL® CORE™ i9-7920X 12 CORE X-SERIES PROCESSOR

SAMSUNG 960 EVO 1TB M.2 NVME INTERNAL SSD

CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR4 RGB 32GB KIT

STRAFE RGB MECHANICAL GAMING KEYBOARD GLAIVE RGB MOUSE

CORSAIR CRYSTAL SERIES 570X RGB ATX MID-TOWER CASE


Take Gaming to the next level with a monitor that’s as powerful as a PC. Play smart and win with the latest gaming monitor line-up available at Exertis. Featuring rapid refresh rates, ultra-fast response times and enhanced colour technology, we have a monitor to suit every need.

ACER PREDATOR Z35P

AOC AGON AG352QCX

LG 27MP59G

Get the edge on your opponents with a massive 35” Ultra-wide curved display with a lightning-fast refresh rate and NVIDIA G-SYNC.

Armed with a huge 35” curved MVA panel in 21:9 format, this monitor immerses gamers deeper into virtual worlds than ever before.

Gamers can now achieve superb graphics on this 27” Full HD monitor through the combination of IPS and 1ms Motion Blur Reduction.

Part Code: S10152229

Part Code: AOCAG352QCX

Part Code: S10159102

ASUS ROG SWIFT PG348Q

SAMSUNG CHG90

34” Ultra-wide QHD curved monitor perfect for panoramic gaming and powered by NVIDIA G-SYNC technology with 100Hz refresh rate.

New 49” ultra-large, ultra-wide curved screen with innovative 32:9 aspect ratio and with Quantum Dot technology for “a billion shades of colour.”

Part Code: ASUSPG348Q

Part Code: S10164880

PCR168 September 2017  
PCR168 September 2017