There’s no denying that the gaming industry has been one of the fastest-growing tech markets in recent years. Gaming underwent a cultural shift at the turn of the century and, since then, it has become widely accepted as a mainstream entertainment market. With the growing move towards digitisation, people across the globe have been searching for new ways to both stay entertained and socialise in the digital realm, and gaming has provided the perfect solution.
Now worth more than movies and traditional sports combined and with staggering growth projected for the next few years – Yahoo predicts that the global gaming industry will pull in revenues in excess of $300 billion in 2026 – gaming has never been more popular.
In this article, we’ll dive into five different gaming trends that have played a major role in driving the growth of digital gaming.
Just over six years ago, the gaming landscape was remarkably different to how it is now. Yes, plenty of technological advancements had already taken place, but we were yet to get a glimpse of how powerful Augmented Reality (AR) would become as a key driver for growth. Then, during the summer of 2016, Pokémon Go was released, leading to a global frenzy of Pokémon hunting in public spaces.
The game itself has generated over $5 billion in downloads and sales, but its lasting impact has spearheaded the integration of AR tech into gaming experiences. Unlike other enhanced reality technologies, AR is cheap to implement and interacts with reality rather than replacing it.
iGaming is a term used to describe the sector of digital gaming that revolves around real money experiences: think poker, online casinos and even sports betting and lotteries. The popularity of the iGaming genre has gone through the roof in recent years, and a considerable percentage of that growth is thanks to the emergence of the slots gaming vertical. Online slots are the sector’s equivalent of hit casual games like Candy Crush or Angry Birds.
Unlike more complex card games like poker or blackjack, slots are a game that appeals to practically every gaming demographic. They have a wide range of titles with a variety of themes, from water-based games to Aztec civilizations. In addition, Megaways titles from leading developers are a favourite among experienced casino gamers thanks to their enhanced game mechanics, which ensure a much more enriching user experience.
Early Access Gaming
Early Access Gaming is an innovation that is only possible in the digital gaming landscape, but it also plays a role in ensuring the ongoing popularity of the industry too. It’s essentially a win-win development for gamers, publishing houses and games developers too.
Under early access services, gamers can access brand new titles weeks, months, or even years in advance. This gives developers the opportunity to get valuable feedback from real-life players while publishing houses can get an idea of how popular a new release is likely to be.
According to the latest research, approximately 15% of the games available on Valve’s Steam platform are currently early access. Meanwhile, both Microsoft and Sony offer early access exclusivity to cloud gaming subscribers on compatible Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Speaking of cloud gaming, this segment has seen some major players rolling out game streaming services of late. While console incumbents Sony and Microsoft were some of the originators, with their PlayStation Now and Xbox Cloud gaming, respectively, the latest tech giants to have joined the fray include NVIDIA, Amazon and Google. Even Netflix is now fully on-board, diversifying its entertainment streams into the cloud gaming realm.
At the end of last year, cloud gaming generated around $1.6 billion in revenue – not bad for a sector that’s still very much emerging into the mainstream. By democratising the process of playing video games – cloud gaming services can be accessed from a range of connected devices, from consoles to mobile phones – the appeal of cloud gaming is far-reaching indeed.
Truly the most liberated of all the remote and digital gaming sectors, the impact of mobile gaming on the industry has quite possibly been the most significant of the century. Mobile gaming has now become more popular than PC and console gaming combined; in 2021, mobile accounted for $93.2 billion of the year’s revenues.
Now, with the rollout of 5G on the horizon, we’re poised at the edge of a new era for mobile gaming. It won’t’ be long before even the biggest publishing houses take a mobile-first approach with their AAA releases.
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