The video game industry has become incredibly popular over the last few years and now looks set to overtake some of the biggest industries in the entertainment sector, including television and film. Game developers and companies are desperately trying to stay ahead of this industry and predict what will come next, but it is often difficult to say because this is such an active, mercurial industry.
That being said, there are a number of trends that look set to disrupt the gaming industry – or at least continue changing it. Below are some of the top trends and market shifts that market analysts have identified within the gaming industry.
The monetization of video games used to be fairly standard as you would buy a console and buy games to play on the console or PC games. However, there has recently been a disruption in the industry as more and more game developers are innovating and trying out new forms of monetization, which make the games much more accessible.
One of the new strategies is through subscription fees, which are substantially less than purchasing the games and consoles outright. Another strategy that has become incredibly popular is launching games that are free to play but include in-game purchase options.
Social gaming and streaming
Social gaming and streaming have been around for a while, but they are set to become increasingly mainstream. If the COVID-19 pandemic showed us anything, it was just how isolated many of us are around the world. A year and a half of lockdown was incredibly difficult emotionally and mentally for everyone, and even people who have strong social connections soon tired of endless Zoom parties and calls.
Streaming platforms such as Twitch allow streamers to play games while also interacting with their fans, chatting, and building a community. The daily rants, jokes and chats that took place over gaming streams during the pandemic helped many people to get out of their own heads and connect with others around the world. It is likely that many people who tried tuning into streams for the first time during the pandemic will continue to do so long after the virus has been controlled.
Social gaming is also possible on massively multiplayer online games such as Fortnite and Skyrim. The social aspect of the games has allowed people from around the world to communicate, connect and play with one another. It looks as though streaming platforms and social gaming are only becoming more popular, so we are likely to see an uptick in the number of streamers and social gaming options soon.
Online casinos disrupting the gambling industry
One segment of the gaming industry that has certainly been making waves over the course of the last few years has been the online gambling industry. Online casinos and betting shops have existed for a few decades, but it was only in the last few years that online casinos really took off and exploded in popularity.
Online casinos have completely disrupted the gambling industry, and now many brick-and-mortar casinos are unsure of what their place in the industry is and whether they can still viably hold a niche. More and more gamblers have decided to make the switch to online gambling, in part due to the convenience that gambling on a smartphone or desktop has over visiting a brick-and-mortar casino, and also because the graphics, audio effects and UX of the biggest online casinos have improved.
It is very likely that the online casino industry will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. In fact, market analysts are comfortably predicting that the industry will continue growing at a fairly rapid rate as more and more jurisdictions reconsider their gambling legislation and legalize online gambling.
New technology, new innovation
A number of market analysts are speculating that this could be the time for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to finally have their moment in the sun. Although AR and VR have been around for a while now and are always in the news, the technology has not yet really taken off in the way that many tech enthusiasts initially believed it would.
This is partly because the technology was not at a good enough level to make gameplay feel natural, seamless and effortless. That being said, this all looks set to change as VR and AR are becoming increasingly advanced. We could very likely see an increase in AR and VR games and activities being made available over the next few months as the gameplay becomes more and more naturalistic and fun.
New consoles, old consoles, and a look to the future
In addition to AR and VR technology, you can rely on there being a steady stream of new consoles being cyclically produced every few years for the foreseeable future. The PS5 and new Xbox made a splash when they were announced, but the PS5 mainly drew excitement due to its swoopy, new-age design. After both consoles were launched, the complaints started rolling in from gamers who had just paid $500 for a console that was defective in some way or did not have enough games specifically designed for it.
The continual design, launch and production of new console systems is arguably very wasteful and environmentally damaging. As with the production of new smartphones, which are virtually indistinguishable from their predecessors, a huge amount of waste is created as companies generate an artificial need for novelty through the continual production of new products. It will be interesting to see where it takes the video game industry in the future.
Although no one can tell the future, it can be safely assumed that the video game industry will continue to expand for a while and that innovation, new technology and new markets will be core focuses for the industry going forward.