Amazon Dips Its Toes in the PC Component Market | Meta is reportedly exploring its own VR games subscription service for Quest headsets
Amazon Dips Its Toes in the PC Component Market A $26 CPU cooler is its first PC component under the Amazon Basics label
Amazon isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. It’s a unremarkable budget CPU fan with RGB that’s compatible with a wide range of AMD and Intel sockets. In fact, Amazon appears to have struck a deal to sell an existing third-party product under its private label. The dead giveaway, as noted by Tom’s Hardware, is that the “Amazon Basics Computer Cooling Fan” not only looks eerily similar to Cooler Master’s Hyper H410R RGB, but has a nearly identical part number (RR-H410-20PC-AS versus RR-HR40-20PC-R1).
- Amazon’s $26 price is significantly lower than Newegg’s $66 Cooler Master’s listing.
- Cooler Master does have similar products that are more comparable in price.
This cooler isn’t Amazon’s first stab at hardware targeted at gamers. A glance at the Amazon Basics page will turn up peripherals from a gaming desk, to the Amazon Basics Pro Gaming Mouse, or even monitors aimed at casual gamers on a tight budget. None of these peripherals are reinventing the wheel – the monitors, for example, are manufactured by AOC – but they’re on the less expensive end and have Amazon’s instant name recognition. There is also the potential for established gaming brands to make a little extra revenue licensing some of their products as "generics."
Putting Pressure on Smaller Players
Amazon has very publicly attempted to carve out a spot in the gaming software and services market, with its Luna cloud gaming service and titles such as New World. These hardware plans, however, are an entirely different ball of wax. Amazon may not be aiming to unseat a company like Corsair or Razer, but gaming brands – particularly smaller ones selling simpler gaming components and peripherals – should still take note. These are the ones who will find themselves competing most directly with Amazon Basics products.
- Inside Advantage: Amazon can stack the deck in its favor when it lists its own products, on top of its history of using Amazon sales data to gain an upper hand for its private label products.
- Name Recognition: One of the greatest challenges to entry for PC gamers is the overwhelming roster of brands. Amazon’s near unmatchable name recognition easily cuts through this noise – especially for newer or less knowledgeable gamers.
- Deep Pockets: Amazon is a massive company with resources many gaming hardware brands could only dream of.
This entrance into the PC component market doesn’t mean Amazon is going to begin offering an Amazon Basics Gaming PC. Perhaps an Amazon Basics-branded PC case or gamepad could be next, but components like “Amazon Basics” video cards or RAM are probably not worth the effort given how niche hardware gaming is compared to something like furniture. Amazon has also previously found itself in regulatory hot water over its private label products, and push come to shove, the company would likely jettison them to avoid the fines and legal headaches.
Meta Reportedly Wants to Create a VR Gaming Subscription Leaks Suggest “Project Apollo” will offer two games or apps a month
Take It with a Grain of Salt
Codenamed “Project Apollo,” the service would offer subscribers two new games or apps a month. These reports should be taken with a grain of salt, given that they’re only based on a references in the Meta Quest app; additionally, a struggling Meta has been axing projects left and right in recent months. The concept does, however, seem sensible enough.
Starved for Content
Meta has had great success selling its VR headsets, to the tune of over 20 million Quest headsets to date – about three-quarters were its well received Quest 2. But there's been difficulty in keeping Quest users engaged and gaming. In a recent internal presentation, Meta's Mark Rabkin noted that “newer cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it this last Christmas, they’re just not as into” using their headsets. In other words, Meta has sold millions of hardware units without the necessary content and games to keep them from gathering dust.
Worse, this lack of killer apps and titles is impacting new sales. After bumping the $399 256GB Meta Quest 2 to $499 in July, Meta recently reversed course and dropped it down to $430. Similarly, the $1,499 Meta Quest Pro just got a price cut to $999 – less than six months after launch. There's also the specter of Sony's newly launched PlayStation VR 2 headset. Clearly, Meta overplayed its hand and consumers aren't buying up enough headsets. In the larger picture, Meta's VR division is bleeding money to the tune of $13.7 billion in operating losses against a comparatively measly $2.16 billion in income.
Buying Itself Some Time
Even if Quest Pass is a hit with headset owners, it’s no silver bullet. Gaming subscriptions require quality games and services, and it’s not clear that enough exists. Sony and Microsoft’s subscriptions, for example, are partly propped up by AAA titles from established in-house developers. Meta has started investing in its own VR game studios, but it’s a long way from having its own Naughty Dog or Bethesda. Conversely, indie devs and smaller outfits stand to benefit the most from the visibility that comes with a subscription service. For Meta, at the very least, a VR subscription service would recoup some of their costs through subscribers who sign up and forget to cancel.
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The Tap: News to Go
- GPU: AMD has effectively reduced the price of its Radeon RX 7900 XT video cards by $100, to $799. The discount affects multiple retailers, as well as partner cards. The RX 7900 XT was largely overshadowed by AMD's flagship $999 RX 7900 XTX GPU at launch. AMD is also offering a free copy of The Last of Us Part 1 with RX 6000 and RX 7000 video cards through April 15. (Courtesy of PC Gamer)
- Console: Following up on its cult hit, the Xbox Series X Fridge, Microsoft will be selling an Xbox Series S Toaster. Pre-orders for 60 Euros are currently open for Xbox's latest branded merchandise. (Courtesy of Video Games Chronicle)
- GPU: Nvidia's RTX 4070 Ti and RTX 4080 have sold enough to establish a foothold on the February Steam Hardware Survey, with 0.18% (77th) and 0.2% (74th) of users, respectively. For comparison, the RTX 4090 came in at 0.33%, while the aging GTX 1650 currently leads with 6.12%. Critically, neither of AMD's RX 7000 series cards made the cut for the Steam Hardware Survey to date.
- Cloud Gaming: Google has pulled the plug on its attempt to salvage its canceled Google Stadia cloud streaming service as a B2B white label solution. Executive Jack Buser confirmed this development to Axios. While it's a setback for cloud gaming as a whole, it's also an indirect victory for established cloud gaming services from the likes of Nvidia and Microsoft. (Courtesy of Axios)