The global digital gaming market has witnessed phenomenal growth in recent years, thanks to the rise in the adoption of smartphones and tablets. The rapid escalation in the number of gamers, including women and non-traditional gamers, is one of the key reasons why the sector has become a booming sector of the global media and entertainment industry. According to Netscribes’ research, the digital gaming market is poised to reach US$ 272.24 billion by 2022, with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.98%.
The digital games market comprises of three main platforms: mobile, console and PC games. The mobile gaming segment occupies a staggering 38% of the total global revenues. This segment is growing at a CAGR of 25.5% through 2017-2022 and is the fastest-growing segment globally.
Based on Netscribes research and PWC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2017-2021, here are the key trends that are influencing the digital gaming industry:
- ‘Direct-to-gamers’ distribution of games: Delivering game content as digital information, without the purchase of physical media is the most prominent trend now. In digital distribution, the barriers to entry are significantly lowered. Large gaming companies have created their platforms for digital distribution such as Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace, which allows gamers to purchase and download digital content directly. Other platforms include websites like Steam, Origin, etc. The adoption of this new digital distribution business model is quite a necessity for the companies’ existing/ planning to enter the market to survive disruptive innovations and acquire a sustainable competitive advantage.
- Use of communication software and virtual credits: Games are now being equipped with messaging and video applications to allow smooth communication ‘in between’ games across players. Developers presently focus on monetizing content by enabling virtual credit system for the sale of downloadable digital content within the game or ‘in-game purchases’ like buying a new avatar or purchase of extra levels, etc.
- Adoption of AR and VR technologies: Augmented and virtual reality are new but essential trends in the gaming industry, and it is actively being made available to customers at affordable prices. VR is more about having a great gaming experience than playing an actual game. So there is room for thought on how successful VR will be to convert hours of dedicated game playing into more of experience-based gaming. On the other hand, AR technology is easily implementable, and its success is visible by the popularity of Pokémon Go and Night Terrors.
- Adoption of eSports: eSports is a competitive video gaming, where players compete with each other in an online or live environment for a large number of viewers. The most common genres of video game associated with eSports are a real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). At present, eSports is one of the major trends that gaming companies are willing to invest in, as the eSports market revenues rose more than four times between 2013 and 2016, and is most likely to triple, again, by 2021.
- The growth of women and non-millennials in the gaming scene: In the gaming world, there has been an enormous increase in the number of female gamers over the years. Since the 2010s, female gamers, make up about half of all global gamers. In the US, the largest market for digital games, the average age of gamers is 37. Within this, adult women represent a greater portion of the video game playing population than boys under the age of 18.
- Gaming on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets): The change in the gaming devices is another key trend in the gaming industry. Mobile games are quickly gaining popularity, as more gamers are turning to their smartphones and tablets for entertainment. This trend has further led to an increased distribution of digital games. The entry barriers in the mobile gaming industry are also lower than other platforms; and has, therefore, attracted investments from major companies. In 2016, Activision Blizzard completed the acquisition of King Digital Entertainment to expand its opportunities in mobile gaming.
Overall, driven by technological innovations, disruptive distribution channels, increasing demand for mobile gaming across the globe, and adoption of VR and eSports, the digital gaming market is poised to have a promising future.
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