China's growing appetite for video games is creating a rapidly expanding market for Alienware, a Dell Inc subsidiary that sells high-end gaming hardware products.
So much so Alienware is customizing its products and marketing strategies to meet Chinese players' unique demands and gaming culture, said Johnson Hu, senior manager of Dell China's end-user computing unit, which oversees Alienware.
"China has a large number of students who are very much into PC video games. So, we developed a completely new product line just to serve this particular group," said Hu. "As the shipments continue to grow, the average retail price of Alienware products has also jumped. This means, the high-end customer base is expanding.
"China is also the only country that has Alienware flagship stores. The (130) outlets help us attract a large number of Alienware fans."
The company is looking to open 10 more stores in China. Some of its existing stores double up as customer experience centers.
Alienware held a video game tournament across such centers last year. The tournament included students' favorites such as battle strategy game League of Legends and basketball game NBA 2K.
The most popular competition, however, was hosted on douyutv.com, one of the biggest video game live-streaming Website in China. It attracted an audience of 150,000 viewers last year.
Alienware mainly sells laptops and desktop PCs in China. Its shipments in China grew 47 percent year-on-year in 2015 despite a major slowdown in the global PC market.
Dell, now a private company, does not disclose China sales figures for Alienware.
The average price of Alienware products is between 17,000 yuan ($2,610) and 18,000 yuan, said Hu. Its cheapest laptop is priced above 10,000 yuan while its premium PC, featuring a high-definition screen, enhanced graphic performance and 1 terabyte of storage, sells at 28,999 yuan.
Chen Li, 21, an electronics engineering sophomore from a Beijing-based university, said a hardcore gamer like him needs high-performance computers to win competitions.
"A lousy computer could bury a great game. Many players use very fast laptops in online games. If I don't use the right equipment, I will most definitely become a burden to my teammates."
Chen loves to play Defense of the Ancients, a battle saga, so is considering to buy an entry-level Alienware computer because he cannot afford the premium one at this point in time.