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Future of Gaming and the Next Generation of Players
December 6, 2023 |
7 min read
In 2023, the entire world seems to have taken on a “work hard, play hard” mentality. Amidst all of the modern anxieties, game development continues to thrive. Globally, the industry is expected to reach a CAGR of 8.74% between 2023 and 2027, resulting in a projected market volume of US$467.00bn by 2027.. It’s drawing in more and more competitors, from Amazon to Facebook, Bytedance to Google.
As another year of bombastic releases draws to a close, we’ve picked a few insights to shed some light on the future of gaming.
WHO ARE THE MODERN GAMERS?
Apparently, it’s every other person – literally! According to Exploding Topics, there are approximately 3.09 billion active video game players globally, and this number is expected to rise to 3.32 billion in 2024. With the population of the entire planet being a bit over 8 billion people, gamers make up just short of its half, and it is highly likely that their ranks will only continue to grow.
The demographics of gaming are also starting to even out. In 2023, 55% of all US gamers are male, as opposed to 63% in 2019. And while men continue to dominate the age groups below 44, after 45 it is women who overwhelmingly take the lead. The industry has many lessons to learn from its audience here – only 24% of game developers are women, and while Asia has more than 2x more gamers than any other region (1.48 billion), only 12% of game developers are non-white. However, as diversity is becoming a priority for Gen-Z in the workforce, we can hope for more women, and POC-led projects in the future.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – THE BUZZWORD OF 2023
In 2023, the landscape of game development has been dramatically transformed by the integration of cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Game developers are leveraging advanced AI algorithms to create more immersive and dynamic gaming experiences. AI-driven procedural content generation is playing a pivotal role in constructing vast and intricately detailed game worlds, providing players with a sense of endless exploration. The use of machine learning algorithms has revolutionized non-player character (NPC) behavior, making in-game entities more responsive, adaptive, and realistic. This not only enhances the overall gaming experience but also opens up new avenues for complex and evolving narratives. AI is also being employed to optimize game design, aiding developers in streamlining production processes and efficiently addressing challenges such as bug detection and resolution. With the continuous evolution of AI capabilities, 2023 marks a significant milestone in the synergy between artificial intelligence and game development, ushering in an era of unprecedented creativity and innovation in the gaming industry. Read more about this new phenomenon in our recent article.
While it is likely that the tech giants bit off a bit more than they could chew with the idea of a digital replica of the real world, smaller, but better functioning metaverse projects already exist today. Fortnite is a case of success! According to EJAW, “originally known for its battle royale mode, Fortnite has expanded into a dynamic, multifaceted virtual world”. Metaverse is also a promising technology for companies to connect their games to each other, building smaller realities that are united under their developer.
THE RISE OF E-SPORTS
Esports tournaments have long become grand spectacles, drawing massive audiences both online and in-person. Major events are hosted in state-of-the-art arenas, and the competitive gaming scene has evolved into a professional ecosystem with sponsorships, endorsements, and media rights. The professionalization of esports organizations and the increased recognition from mainstream media have elevated some esports athletes to celebrity status. Furthermore, advancements in virtual and augmented reality technologies have enhanced the viewer experience, providing immersive perspectives and interactive elements.
With such bombastic growth, the industry is bound to run into some growing pains. According to SportsPro, the biggest current challenges in e-sports are:
Over-reliance on sponsorships. The industry is dependent on big money investors, and the said investors expect to turn a profit. While e-sports have gained unprecedented popularity in less than a decade, they are still not as lucrative as regular sports matches, so the pressure is on.
Macroeconomic circumstances. The cumulative effect of rising interest rates, inflation, supply chain pressure and the cost of living crisis does some splash damage on all industries, and e-sports are no exception.
Public misconceptions. The stigma around e-sports being nerdy and adolescent is lifting, but not as fast as many had hoped. It seems some more time will have to pass before e-sports and IRL sports stand on equal footing.
Nevertheless, E-sports is undoubtedly one of the most attractive businesses for publishers, and that its growth is believed to be sustainable for the coming years in both developed and developing markets. New trends emerge every day, and 2023 has been significant with the takeoff of live betting, broader female inclusion, and introduction of AR/VR extensions.
AR AND VR SHAPING THE FUTURE OF GAMING
Technology is a key growth driver in the gaming industry. Facial and sound recognition, gesture control, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have entirely transformed video games and have inspired many people to play. Let’s take a look at how they are terraforming the landscape of gaming industry and player behavior in 2023.
With the use of VR, players can enjoy a near-to-reality experience as they are physically active and involved in the game. Currently, several active competitive leagues use VR: Meta, Valve, PlayStation and Samsung. Hence, developers are now focusing on AR/VR technology to differentiate games in the market.
However, it has not been all smooth sailing for VR technology. After all, creating an entire virtual reality for your players is a tall order, and what do you do when your virtual reality does not feel all that real? Headset retailers have been struggling to meet their quotas this past year, and the trends of the market reflect a hunger for more immersive VR experiences, a need to make VR a bit less isolating and more social, and a demand for cheaper and more ergonomic headsets. The future of VR will be defined by the ability to face these challenges, but even so, the prognoses show plenty of faith in this industry.
While creating a virtual reality is a daunting task, augmenting the reality we already have is a better recipe for success. According to BuiltIn, “that’s partly why AR took off faster than VR: People have an appetite for games that interact with reality, not remove them from it”. The widespread use of advanced computer vision and spatial mapping technologies has significantly enhanced the accuracy and realism of AR game interactions, and the end of 2023 is rife with anticipation for Meta’s AR glasses and the new games they will usher in.
BLOCKCHAIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, AND NFTS
Not only VR and AR can be considered as the future of gaming. The impact of blockchain technology on games also provides a great perspective on the growth of the industry. Blockchain offers useful tools for players, including decentralized asset exchanges, verifiable scarcity of virtual objects and collectibles, fast and secure payments, and the ability for developers to monetize their games.
But monetization of labor is no longer reserved just for the developerr. Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity provide players with opportunities to get money for their time spent in-game. These games introduce a novel concept where players are not just consumers but active participants in a virtual economy, earning tangible rewards for their in-game efforts, and owning in-game avatars or property with NFT level of uniqueness. The play-to-earn model leverages blockchain technology to create decentralized, transparent, and secure systems for asset ownership and transactions. Players can earn cryptocurrency, unique digital assets encrypted as NFTs, or other valuable items by achieving in-game milestones, completing challenges, or contributing to the virtual ecosystem.
With the proliferation of high-speed internet and advancements in cloud computing, players now have the ability to access and play graphics-intensive games on a variety of devices without the need for high-end hardware. Cloud gaming services offer a seamless experience, allowing gamers to stream content directly to their devices, eliminating the constraints of download times and storage limitations. This innovation has not only democratized access to cutting-edge gaming experiences but has also fostered cross-platform play, enabling gamers to seamlessly transition between different devices while maintaining continuity in their gaming sessions. To find out more about this new type of player experience, read an article we posted earlier this year.
To summarize our predictions for the future of gaming sector, we have identified key trends to expect this year:
More women in game development, in e-sports and in players base in general.
Active implementation of AI to optimize and accelerate game development.
Metaverse keeping expectations realistic; while the dream of digital world is many debug sessions away, we are likely to see companies uniting their games in smaller brand-owned metaverses.
E-sports will proceed to gain popularity and diversify, all the while tackling the challenge of relying on sponsors.
VR becoming more accessible and social, AR giving it a run for its money in terms of the speed of growth and overall usability.
Blockchain offers new lucrative opportunities as play-to-earn genre draws in more gamers.
Cloud gaming on the rise as a tool of accessible democratized play.
Innovecs Games will continue to keep tabs on the state of the gaming industry in the upcoming year. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy our portfolio of 2D and 3D projects and reach out with any questions. Who knows, maybe your game development studio is one partnership away from making it to 2024 gamedev hall of fame?