Gaming has boomed during the pandemic: 2020 saw a 31% jump in the number of new gamers, according to Morgan Stanley. And while the end of lockdown may have slowed this trend, the numbers of gamers and the time they spend on gaming is still growing—and three key developments are transforming the gaming marketplace.
1. Social-gaming convergence
The new gaming is not antisocial—it’s a way of building and maintaining relationships. The same Morgan Stanley survey found 30% of gamers now see games first and foremost as a means of social connection. And over a quarter of gamers under 35 say gaming actually provides a better social platform than social media itself.
This suggests that social media and gaming will become increasingly merged, with virtual and augmented reality platforms continuing to grow in popularity.
2. In-game monetization
The social nature of the new gaming feeds into a major source of revenue for the sector: microtransactions. As well as boosting user engagement, microtransactions can drive long-term revenue growth.
In-game transactions on mobile games may offer ad-free subscriptions, power-ups or new lives, while console gamers can buy weapons to improve their fighting skills. Just like in the real world, people can also buy clothes, jewellery and cars in the gaming world to flash their status, express themselves and connect with other people. And in metaverse gaming, they can even speculate on digital real estate.
3. New games, new platforms
2021 saw the release of several new platforms boasting new processor architecture, faster storage and higher visual resolution. This offers game makers an opportunity to develop ground-breaking new games or re-release enhanced versions of classic titles, as well as reimagined versions of console games for mobile devices. In fact, many of today’s top mobile games are exactly that.
Sales of these consoles and games for them, both old and new, look set to bring in significant revenue for years to come.
Of course, there are risks in every industry, and gaming in particular risks losing customers as people abandon their pandemic hobbies. But the rise in the social aspect of gaming, and companies’ ability to monetise increased user engagement, should still combine to make 2022 a winning year for the industry.