The computer graphics market has always been an exciting place since it began in the early 1960s. Challenged by hardware speed and costs, visionaries saw the potential and driven by artistic and scientific quests pushed the envelope seeking imagery and moving pictures that were indistinguishable from reality, as well as fantastic and imaginary.
Computer graphics is not a single discipline, but a collection of capabilities and people: processors, engineers, lots of memory, artists, displays and XR, technical directors, programmers, and zillions of lines of code.
So, universe of CG has continuously grown, exponentially at times. Sometimes it has followed Moore’s law, sometimes it's been boosted by software breakthroughs and eureka moments. Growth in the dollar value of the market has leveled off a bit, but that’s due as much to falling prices as is to the asymptotic nature of any market. CG has seen growth for over 60 years, not many markets can make such a claim.
Growth has slowed to an average (hardware and software) of 1.2% CAGR, but at $154 billion a year that’s not trivial—do the math—1.2% of $150,000,000,000 is . . . . $1,860,000,000!
The accompanying chart shows the growth in hardware and software. The software aspects of the market have been slow to flat, but hardware segments have been varied, influenced by consumer products such as game consoles and PC gaming machines.
Virtual reality, which has gained so much attention, is hardly a factor in either hardware or software, and despite some glowing forecasts, we don’t think it will be for a while. A growing point of exploration for VR today is in content creation where it is used for virtual production, a glamorous but tiny market. The real market for VR is in the design fields for professionals.
|Overall Computer Graphics Market|
The computer graphics hardware market was worth $130 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase to $137 billion by 2023, with software growing slightly and a little less than hardware.
|Monitors used for graphics||1.00||1.00||1.08||1.18||1.27||1.32|
|Total gaming PCs||35.48||34.57||35.91||35.64||37.00||36.95|
|TOTAL hardware ($B)||130.41||135.36||133.27||134.31||138.12||137.25|
|Computer Graphics Hardware Market|
The hardware segment of the CG industry has seen steady overall growth, with some ups and downs due to product cycles and the irregularity of the PC market.
2019 saw the introduction of new GPUs and add-in boards (AIBs) with ray-tracing capabilities, and several new CPUs, and next-gen game consoles also were announced for 2H 2020.
The market for CG software in 2018 was worth $14 billion (not counting services, maintenance, and other aspects) and is expected to grow to $17 billion by 2023 as the industry shifts its sales model moving more services to the cloud, and transitioning to a subscriber system.
Although it doesn’t get discussed much, the digital graphics market is dominated by CAD/CAM. Digital video is a bigger market than the modeling or rendering segments, and yet when one reads about CG it’s all about the special effects in games and movies. That’s easy to understand. Everyone loves VFX and has experienced it. In reality, truly amazing things are happening in CAD as the digital and real get connected. CAD has taken a leap and it shows in increased revenues for all companies. And, although unsung, CAD is often involved in the heavy lifting of all those 3D models of cities and spaceships. The beautiful ray-traced images of automobiles, gorgeous skyscrapers, and clothing, bottles, and other consumer goods — it’s all CG.
|Modeling and Animation||0.26||0.28||0.28||0.30||0.31||0.32|
|Rendering, visualization, and simulation||0.30||0.34||0.35||0.37||0.39||0.40|
|Imaging (Raster & Vector applications)||2.63||2.89||3.07||3.25||3.59||3.77|
|TOTAL applications ($B)||14.04||15.05||15.14||14.51||15.63||16.59|
|Computer Graphics Software Market|
The demand for programmers, artists, scientists, and designers continues to be strong and we’re seeing startups arrive in emerging and reborn markets such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and casual games. Artificial intelligence is playing an ever bigger role in image processing, ray tracing, and AR. The arrival of new APIs, and platforms are also stimulating development. Firms are actively looking for people who can use and exploit these new programs and their associated hardware accelerators.
Given the trends in dropping costs, and the increasing users and usage of CG tools and hardware, we predict that the rate of growth for the CG industry will remain fairly steady for the foreseeable future. Computer graphics is truly a worldwide industry now.
About Jon Peddie Research
Dr. Jon Peddie has been active in the graphics and multimedia fields for more than 30 years. Jon Peddie Research is a technically oriented multimedia and graphics research and consulting firm. Based in Tiburon, California, JPR provides consulting, research, and other specialized services to technology companies in a variety of fields including graphics development, multimedia for professional applications and consumer electronics, high-end computing, and Internet-access product development. Jon Peddie's Market Watch is a quarterly report focused on the market activity of PC graphics controllers for notebook and desktop computing.