Though gaming was already quite popular given the rise of powerful, portable and cutting-edge consoles, the recent shift to all-online learning and living during the pandemic pushed video games to new heights.
Without a doubt, one of the most effortless ways to entertain ourselves is through video games especially when we’re not allowed out of the house, and with months and even years stuck at home, getting online and into the virtual world is the best way to do just that.
When we dive into the financial aspect of video games, we can see that there has been a 23 per cent jump in expenditure in games over the past 12 months, and with this explosive growth poised to continue, we might see video games becoming even more entrenched in our everyday lives.
It isn’t just console games that are exploding in popularity either. The humble iPhone, with its powerful chipset (rivalling many consoles) saw its gaming sales grow by a whopping 44 per cent last year, putting the App Store and Apple’s Arcade at the forefront of the brand’s mobile marketing.
All that said, let’s dig a little deeper into why video games are exploding in popularity and how you can get in on the action.
Video Games are Becoming More Social
One of the biggest drivers of the exponential growth we’re seeing in video games is the social aspect that is becoming more and more paramount.
In the past, playing video games truly was a reclusive and rather ‘lonely’ thing to do given that without multiplayer, gamers were typically playing and completing missions or challenges in closed-world games without any other interaction.
Fast-forward to today, and with high-speed fibre internet and near-zero latency, we’re able to better game with friends, family and strangers from across the world, thus making international championships possible, for example. This drums up interest and pushes more people into gaming than ever before.
The rise and fall of Fortnite, for example, is a great way to see how multi-player aspects of gaming have ushered more use and investment in digital recreation. The premise of Fortnite’s most popular gaming mode was essentially playing against 99 other players, and fighting to stay ‘alive’ until the end of the Battle Royale.
This highly interactive and addictive gaming mode has since been replicated by almost all major gaming franchises out there, and is used to add a social aspect and drive further growth.
On top of in-game socialisation, there is also the eSport arena which is taking off across the country and the globe too. With companies and PR firms like Get the Word Out helping to organise and advertise gaming events (along with an extensive list of events for additional industries), we’re now seeing IRL or In Real Life events where gamers aren’t only connected by their chosen video game, but by their close proximity to one another. Gaming is essentially a place to have fun and make new friends.
Revenue and Investment Focuses
When we look at the growth of video games over the past five to ten years, there is one main driver that is relatively easy to spot – and that is the desire to grow profits and keep gamers playing.
Today’s game development platforms are working hard on creating games that aren’t only fun to play, but have been designed from the ground up to be addicting and prompt players to purchase in-game material.
A quick gander at the stock market and the bottom line of some of the largest gaming platforms and developers out there show us that today’s motivation for growing the video game industry is deeply rooted in the investors best interests and so video games are following this trend.
For example, Activision and Zynga are landing atop the ‘Buy’ lists of many stock experts, and for good reason. These development companies are working heavily on research and development for video games which are designed around a Pay to Play system, which essentially results in high revenues and profits for these platforms.
Even Nintendo’s own Switch features a Pay to Play system for its Switch Online service.
In some cases, these platforms have taken their in-game purchases and their fight for revenue so far that gamers and users have begun to turn on them. For example, Electronic Arts or EA Games, has built a reputation on essentially locking down some of their games until players purchase segments, resulting in revenue streams growing to over $1.49 billion last year.
Games are Drastically Getting Better
Looking beyond income-focused reasons for the video game industry’s explosive growth, there is also the fact that video games, along with improvements in technology, are getting drastically better in a number of different ways.
With games such as Cyberpunk 2077, we’re seeing a world being generated in real-time with the help of AI to make gaming a more fluid and less rigid experience. Gamers are now able to explore worlds that change and adapt over time, just like the real world, and this has begun to spike interest in gaming from those who have never really enjoyed the pastime.
Added to this, gaming companies are also listening to customer feedback and integrating changes to video games more often. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, has been known to reach out to his customers for feedback or read online forums to garner more information on what could be improved in the games that the company puts out, resulting in video games that are more streamlined and refined, ultimately offering a better experience.
To end, the rise of Virtual Reality has also begun to push gaming to new limits, and has created a new landing point for potential gamers who may not have been as interested in the industry before, making it more likely that the video game industry will see further leaps and bounds in user size – and revenue size in the near future.