Is video gaming one of the most exciting entertainment industries right now? There are many who would agree with that statement. But why? What makes now such an exciting time for the gaming industry, and where is it going from here? Let’s take a look at the trends apparent in gaming today.
From strength to strength
In 2009, the gaming industry earned a total of USD 10.5 billion in revenue. In 2014, that figure quadrupled- the gaming industry had raked in over USD 46 billion. Financially, the industry has never been healthier.
It’s been just a little over a year since the releases of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, and console gamers and game developers are still enjoying the vastly increased potential of these new platforms. Meanwhile, PC gaming’s capabilities continue to grow by leaps and bounds, as well. With the ever-increasing level of hardware that powers games, the horizons of what is possible are continuing to expand. And that frees developers to create the best experiences they can, without being constrained by the shackles of limited technology.
Apart from raw power, though, technology is going to take gaming to places it’s never been. Take the Oculus Rift, for example - a device that could potentially turn your favourite games into an immersive virtual-reality experience. And it’s not the only one - a number of similar devices are trying to crack the problem and, in this battle, the gamers are the clear winners. VR isn’t the only area of innovation on the table - though it is one of the most exciting.Who hasn’t looked at Star Trek’s holodeck, and thought: ‘Wouldn’t that be cool?’ The never-ending quest to dissolve the barriers between the gamer and the game looks to be finally making some serious headway.
It wasn’t that long ago that gaming was seen as something to be avoided or discouraged as much as possible. The prevailing wisdom was that allowing children or the youth to get into gaming would hugely detract from their academic skills, and result in them growing up deficient in both education, as well as social skills. As for the game industry being a viable career choice, forget about it. However, over the years, there’s been a noticeable change in attitudes towards gaming and the gaming industry. A study conducted by the ESA in 2014 found that there were more female gamers over the age of 18 in America (33 per cent of the total) than there were male gamers below 18 (18 per cent). That’s a pretty significant statistic that tells you how audiences are shifting and growing. A number of high-profile personages and celebrities are entirely open about how they enjoy gaming and how it helps them unwind. It, perhaps, has done something to counteract unpleasant perceptions of gaming. Pro-gaming has grown hugely, and is receiving almost as much press as its physical sporting counterparts in some countries. It has also helped get gaming in the public eye, as well.
A more open playing field
It isn’t all about more power,more potential and more everything, however - all of this means that developers have also been able to do more with less. You have indie games coming out alongside huge AAA games, and matching them blow-for-blow. In fact, the fifth best-selling game of 2014 was Minecraft, an indie game that’s become a global phenomenon. It’s a much more open field than it used to be, and that results in first-time designers being able to compete for your time and attention with established powerhouse franchises. And that’s a win-win situation for consumers. It’s also a wake-up call to the bigger fish, who know that they can’t coast by without a genuine effort to win over the audience.
And finally, we come to the biggest X-factor of them all - the Internet. Today, companies are able to deliver fully-realised online worlds for you to explore, which wouldn’t have been possible in the past. What’s more - (more, more and more) many of them are free-to-play. Think about that, for a second - it used to be that a Role-Playing Game would be the result of months, if not years, of work by multiple teams of developers. Today, you’re getting experiences that are roughly equivalent streamed to your computer entirely free. You also get to explore these worlds with other players, from all over the world, who can log in and be a part of your adventure. Last year, American players of online RPGs averaged 6.5 hours a week gaming with others online, and, at least, 54 per cent of gamers try multiplayer gaming every week. These numbers are only going to grow - online RPGs are pushing boundaries every day, and are taking the genre to an entirely new level.
These are just a few of the reasons why gaming is such a compelling brand of entertainment right now, and such an intriguing industry to follow. With the current rate of technological innovation, there’s no telling how far we could go.
About the author:
Joonim (Chris) Lee is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Funizen Solutions Pvt Ltd. A first generation game promoter from South Korea, Joonim (Chris) Lee has been living in India since 2004 and is fondly known as ‘Kordian’ due to this Indian connection. Prior to starting Funizen, Chris was the Head - Online Game Business at Sify where he headed the company’s 80-member online game business.