The video gaming industry is booming. It generated a cool $131 billion in 2018 and it is forecast to hit $300 billion by 2025, according to GlobalData. By that point it will be larger than Hollywood and the music industry combined. Younger generations are driving this impressive growth, but why exactly are they so enamoured with video games?
An Immersive Experience
A viewer can derive a great deal of entertainment from watching a TV show or a film, but it is a passive experience. Gaming allows you to seize control of the action and shape the experience by making decisions. It provides autonomy, independence and a level of control over the action, while dangling the tantalising prospect of a sense of accomplishment in front of the gamer.
The technology has improved leaps and bounds over the past few years. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is becoming increasingly varied and complex, and the entire experience is extremely immersive.
Video gaming is a growth industry and that allows it to scoop up some of the finest talent in the world. Virtuosos that previously composed Oscar-winning scores now provide the soundtracks for big games, the top writers are moving into the sector and all manner of Hollywood A-listers are lending their talents to video games.
The Rise of Mobile Gaming
The vast majority of people now own a mobile device and that has opened up a wealth of possibilities for video game publishers. Mobile gaming has already overtaken console gaming in terms of revenue, and the gap is set to widen in the years ahead.
The need to invest in expensive consoles or gaming PCs is diminishing. Mobile gaming is extremely convenient and it can take place anywhere. There is no stigma attached to it, and that has helped more girls get into gaming.
“Today’s video games industry is in the throes of a huge transformation from a product-oriented business to an as-a-service model,” says Ed Thomas, GlobalData’s principal analyst for Technology Thematic Research. “At the same time, new technologies like 5G, cloud, and virtual reality will usher in a new phase of innovation, while new business models like support for in-game micropayments are already changing the economics of gaming.”
The Esports Revolution
The rise of competitive gaming is one of the most exciting developments of the past five years. It has rapidly gone from an obscure pursuit to a global phenomenon, with superstar gamers earning seven-figure prizes for their endeavours.
Analysis firm NewZoo estimates that there are 454 million esports viewers in 2019 – comprising 201 million enthusiasts and 253 million occasional viewers – and it predicts that figure will grow to 645 million by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of 14%.
There is no doubt that the rise of esports has helped fuel the soaring popularity of video gaming as a whole. Many young people prefer watching esports to traditional sports, as they have grown up with technology and they idolise superstar gamers.
Titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2 and StarCraft II are easy to understand and extremely difficult to master. This allows them to rack up millions of fans, while also allowing the very best proponents to develop the sort of skills that others can marvel at. It makes esports exciting to watch. The contests are fast-paced, action-packed and a world away from a five-day, rain-delayed Test cricket match that ends in a draw.
Massive companies like Intel and MasterCard sponsor the esports scene, betting on video games is huge and rival streaming platforms are handing star gamers huge contracts. Esports will only grow in popularity, and some commentators predict that competitive gaming will eventually outstrip traditional sports.
A Passionate Community
Gamers were traditionally stereotyped as isolated loners, but that could not be further from the truth nowadays. It is extremely aspirational to be a top gamer, and it is very much a social pursuit.
Large, passionate online communities have sprung up around games like LoL, Fortnite, Minecraft and CS:GO, and people from all over the world bond over a shared love of a particular game.
Multiplayer titles allow friends to team up online and bid for glory, while forums, social media channels and streaming platforms are constantly buzzing with chatter. It occasionally veers towards toxicity, but for the most part these communities are welcoming, friendly and embracing.
A Glorious Future
Video gaming is at the forefront of technological advances and it is therefore certain to enjoy a healthy future. Consoles will fade away and cloud gaming will come to the fore, while graphics and gameplay will continue to improve immeasurably.
VR is really starting to take off and AR technology will bridge the gap between physical sports and esports in thrilling ways, getting gamers out of their chairs and jumping around.
Competition is intense, with major companies battling to become the Netflix of gaming, and this arms race is spurring the sector on to reach new heights all the time. Gaming can also be a great educational tool, as youngsters learn best when they are having fun, so we can expect to see it integrated more in the curriculum going forwards.