The video game industry is large with 3.24 billion video game players worldwide. With billions in revenue brought about by the sheer number of users, the future of video games is bright.
The pandemic was a catalyst for this growth. With stay-at-home orders enforced, sports venues closed, people turned to digital methods of gaming for entertainment.
The surge of players prompted big gaming companies including Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to continue making innovations in their respective game consoles. And because of the ever-evolving tech and growing user base, tech giants joined in with products of their own. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are now developing games that can be played in the cloud.
Technologies and trends in 3D graphics, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile gaming, and streaming services continue to change the future of the video game industry. There are now innovations in wearable tech, high-def displays, facial and voice recognition, and gesture control. And since the Xbox Series X and PS5 have been launched, more major transformations are expected for the next four to five years.
But the focus shouldn’t be on next-generation hardware only. There’s more to see and expect. And with all these innovations and advancements, the question of whether they will all evolve beyond 2021 or not remains. To answer that, here’s a get a glimpse of what could everybody expect after the effects of the pandemic on the industry have waned:
Increased Need for Digitally Distributed Games
Even before Amazon and Netflix were a hit, digital distribution of video games through services such as Steam, were already successful. But just like Netflix and Amazon, Steam saw an increase in players in their platform during the pandemic and up until now.
The platform’s success is evident that players need more digitally available games. It eliminated the need to go out of the house and purchase a game from a brick-and-mortar video game shop.
Game publishers meanwhile are enjoying the platform, too. Their marketing strategies are easily adaptable to the platform. As players easily purchased games, publishers were able to continuously message their users whenever they had updates or new features for their games.
Diversity in the Industry
Most video game players are male. This explains in part why most protagonists in video games are men. Thanks to the pandemic though, more women are now playing video games. You can see them playing games on their mobile phones and portable gaming devices.
But while there is an increase in games catered to women, the industry is still criticized for lack of minorities and representation in games. There are developers though who are accepting the challenge and now there are game publishers that are releasing games with female protagonists, minorities, and people of different races and orientations. But, there should be more of them in the near future.
Social Connection in Games
People who started to play video games during the pandemic saw an opportunity to socialize with other people through gaming, especially on mobile. And now, players want to experience more of that. Social gaming and live gaming events became the norm. This prompted developers to add social platform features to their games.
Increase in Console Use
There was an increase in the popularity of gaming consoles during the pandemic. The variety of consoles available now isn’t limited to digital consoles only. Mobile phones became the most popular gaming device. It allowed players to access games anywhere at any time.
Advanced console systems such as gaming laptops and PCs also saw an increase in sales. And with the demand for digitally distributed games, gaming machines such as the Steam gaming PC or machine can be a hit.
Introduction of New Business Models
The pandemic saw new business models in the gaming industry make their mark. Gaming as a service (GaaS) and free-to-play were largely accepted in the mobile gaming and PC gaming sectors.
The GaaS model is an on-demand, subscription-based streaming service. It lets users play games on the game publisher’s servers. Free to play on the other hand, as the name implies, lets players use their games free or without an initial charge. Players can pay to remove ads for unobstructed play or socialize with other people.
According to Insider Intelligence, the video game industry in the US earned $44 billion in revenue during the pandemic. They believe that the trend can continue if game developers improve the social aspect of their games. It’s what most players are after these days. There is still a need to connect with other people and that demand should be met if the industry wants to keep the same level of revenue.