The global gaming industry has grown significantly in recent years, even to the point where it has surpassed the popularity of movies and music combined. People of all ages and demographics across the world play games on a regular basis, making use of a whole host of different devices, platforms and gaming services.
In the past year, for example, gaming has:
- Reached a total of 3 billion players.
- Generated revenues of $300 billion (according to Accenture).
- Pulled in eSports audiences of 465.1 million people.
The Global Impact of Gaming
Gaming has become so immersed in mainstream entertainment that it is increasingly harder to separate it from so-called traditional sectors. Setting aside gaming’s massive global reach among consumers, its impact on innovation and the advancement of connected technologies has been considerable. Sectors from the medical industry to enterprise, education and even defence have integrated innovations that originated in gaming.
Furthermore, gamification is now rampant across a variety of different industries. If there’s a consumer-facing market in existence today, it’s likely adopted gaming design elements like points, rankings and badges. Video games themselves have even evolved into TV shows or popular movie franchises, with characters like Sonic The Hedgehog becoming as beloved as A-list celebrities.
Key Factors Behind Gaming’s Surging Popularity
During the last decade of the 20th century, the popularity of gaming was steadily beginning to rise as innovative concepts and affordable gaming hardware made it accessible for many of the world’s consumers. However, who could’ve foreseen just how popular gaming would become in a matter of years?
The arrival of the Internet on a mass scale changed the state of play for gaming on an unprecedented scale. Thanks to the power of connected technologies, games could suddenly played on a global level, as gamers from all over the world met up in virtual environments to collaborate and compete.
The diversification of available games also played a fundamental role in securing its widespread popularity. Today’s gamers spoilt for choice when it comes to variety, with online storefronts like Steam delivering everything from iGaming staples to virtual reality titles.
Plus, far from the eighties and nineties stereotype of the average gamer being male, research shows that 46% of popular gaming segments like mobile composed of female players. Meanwhile, 2021 statistics show the take-up was higher among female players that year, with 60% of new gamers identifying as such.
The number of different gaming devices that have hit the market in recent years has driven down barriers to entry like prohibitive console costs. Smartphones connect players in remote locations with a world of mobile gaming experiences, and even specialised hardware like virtual reality headsets has become more affordable. All of this combined has effectively democratised the process of gaming, making it a pastime that’s accessible to anyone and everyone, regardless of their physical location or spending budget.
What Lies Ahead?
Over the past three years, we’ve seen gamers become celebrities and celebrities become ardent gamers. Mobile gaming has become the industry’s top-performing segment and some of the world’s biggest gaming companies have dipped their toes into cloud gaming services. The quality and gameplay associated with current AAA titles are exceptional; and, whether we’re on the go or at home, we’re never far away from a connected device that can transport us into a virtual battle royale melee.
Yes, gaming has had an incredible start to the decade, but what lies ahead for this multi-billion dollar industry?
We’re beginning to see that, to present-day gamers, how they’re playing is just as important as what they’re playing. Gaming is now symbiotic with online socialisation – most gamers play on average for 16 hours a week. With additional hours spent engaging with streaming content or participating in Discord discussions. To modern gamers, their time online isn’t simply an escape from the real world. It’s just as real and relevant as their time offline. Social gaming is on the rise and, with the rollout of Web 3.0. And its Metaverse implications, we can expect publishers and manufacturers to devote considerable research and development to providing the most immersive and interactive experiences possible to gamers.