TOKYO — This year’s Tokyo Game Show included an unexpected participant: Swedish furniture giant Ikea made its debut at the four-day videogame industry event with a lineup of chairs and tables targeting gamers.
The company is accelerating its push into the space amid a pandemic-induced boom for both at-home entertainment and comfortable furniture.
The expo kicked off on Thursday in a hybrid virtual/physical format. Ikea’s Japanese subsidiary showcased a lineup of gaming furniture including an adjustable desk and a wide range of chairs, as well as accessories such as an LED desk light, a neck pillow and a wooden headphone stand.
The show gave Ikea a chance to introduce its products to the gaming industry and reach new customers, especially as it gears up for a global launch next month. It has already released some of its gaming furniture in China and Japan this year, as it looked to test the water in Asia’s two biggest gaming markets.
Ikea conducted research and development on its new lineup through a partnership with Republic of Gamers, a gaming brand under Taiwanese PC maker Asus.
Ruslan Pseunok, the head of Ikea Japan’s products, told Nikkei Asia that ROG’s expertise helped the company understand gamers’ needs.
“We were able to gather data and relearn how to develop products that can be used by not only professional gamers but also casual consumers,” Pseunok said.
Ikea says it usually takes around three years to develop a product, which means its plans to enter the gaming market likely began before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Either way, the timing looks fortuitous. The gaming industry has seen unprecedented demand since the outbreak of the pandemic as people around the globe spend more time at home.
That surge in demand has extended to furniture retailers. According to a report by London-based research firm TechNavio, the market for gaming chairs is expected to expand by $95 million with a compound average growth rate of 7% during 2020 to 2024. Asia is the dominant market in terms of growth due to the increasing popularity of PC games.
Ikea will likely face a competitive market, though, as more companies take similar steps. U.S. office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, as well as Herman Miller, are already popular among professional gamers, while Singapore-based Secretlab is an industry leader whose production focuses on high-quality gaming chairs.
Ikea’s strength lies in its ability to offer affordable products, keeping prices low through mass production and minimizing shipping costs. Its cheapest gaming chair has a price tag of 4,999 yen (about $45), while its most expensive chair sells for 15,990 yen.
In Japan, popular furniture chain Nitori Holdings has also entered the gaming furniture market, saying sales of its affordable gaming chairs have been on the rise. Meanwhile, office furniture manufacturer Okamura has released chairs focused on professional gamers.