10 years ago, the online gaming industry consisted mainly of a handful of hardcore console players and a smattering of tech-savvy PC users. Thanks to a decade of diversification and technological advances, the market has come on leaps and bounds in the past 10 years and shows no signs of slowing up in the years to come.
In 2010 the global online gaming market was worth just over $15 billion, now it is worth $159.3 billion and boasts an active pool of 2.7 billion players across the globe. In this article we will analyse the role that diversification has had in the phenomenal growth of the industry in the past 10 years and attempt to predict what lies ahead for online gaming in the coming years.
In 2007, Steve Jobs and Apple changed the world when they released the iPhone, the world’s first truly smart phone. The official launch was trailed as the unveiling of three separate devices: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communicator.
What was revealed in the launch was that all three of these technologies would come together on one mobile device. The announcement would have a ripple effect on a whole host of industries and sectors, including online gaming.
Within three years of the iPhone’s launch, mobile gaming had already begun to have a huge impact on the gaming market. New demographics suddenly had access to engaging and consuming games at the tips of their fingers.
Game developers soon took notice of the appeal that mobile gaming had and began to diversify their offerings for their new markets. So-called ‘Freemium’ games integrated with social media sites like Facebook became the go-to game of the mid-2010s.
Candy Crush was the biggest success story of Freemium gaming at one point boasting a whopping 272 million active players a month. Games of this ilk have helped to make mobile gaming the biggest contributor to the online gaming market, accounting for 45% of the industry’s revenues last year.
Mobile game Candy Crush now has over 5,000 levels to keep fans hooked.
Another key area of the gaming market that has emerged in recent years is gambling, an act traditionally confined to casino floors and poker rooms which is now enjoyed online by hundreds of millions of players.
Of course, in 2010 there were hundreds, if not thousands of online casinos welcoming customers to their virtual tables, but those sites were nowhere near as advanced as they are today. In recent years live casinos, with real life dealers streamed straight onto customers devices have become vital in attracting new customers.
In addition to that, the previous 10 years of advances have been defined by the diversification of the online gambling industry. Poker, blackjack and roulette are no longer the only classic gambling games that are covered by the sector.
Classic games like bingo have found a home online as well as more modern games like online slots, which have grown increasingly popular of the last several years. Companies such as Wink Slots have managed to strike the balance between online browsing facilities and mobile gambling apps which allow them to tap into the lucrative mobile market.
Another change in the past decade is the level of trust that customers have in their preferred online gambling provider. Online payment processing tech has improved incredibly since 2010, convincing more and more to sample online gambling, safe in the knowledge that their money is traceable and protected.
Midway through the 2010s the outlook for traditional console and PC gaming was bleak. Mobile gaming was threatening to leave its older competitors in the dust and swallow up most of the available market.
A life raft in the form of a Battle Royale game was thrown the industry’s way by developers Epic Games who released Fortnite in 2017. Individual players or squads would compete in a last man standing game format known as Battle Royale.
The format was an instant success, amassing 350 million players from across the globe. What made the game so intriguing from a business point of view was that it was free to download, which was big news in an industry that regularly charges $50 a title.
Epic Games made their money from in-game purchases, selling players custom skins, guns and victory dances. It was a business model that worked, leading to the game announcing an annual revenue of £2.4 billion in 2018 – the highest ever annual revenue in gaming history.
Fortnite’s successful model has been copied and used by several console games developers including Activision and Infinity Ward, the companies behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Warzone, the title’s very own Battle Royale format was downloaded by over 15 million players in the first four days of its release earlier this year. If rumors are to be believed, the next release in the series – Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War – will also feature a free-to-play Battle Royale mode.
Warzone is now on Season 5 and is still captivating its millions of avid players around the globe.
The Future of Online Gaming
Current trends are hard to ignore when it comes to predicting the future of the online gaming industry. One safe prediction is that mobile gaming will continue to grow and that it will not be long until it accounts for over half of the industry’s total revenues.
Augmented and Virtual reality technology is also sure to play a part in the growth of the online gaming industry in the coming years. Online gambling companies will most likely be the first within the sector to avail of that kind of technology.
Functionally, an augmented or virtual reality casino would be easier to develop than say, a virtual reality Verdansk for Call of Duty fans. In fact, many of the leading names in online gambling have already heavily invested in research and development surrounding virtual reality technology.
Away from the casino tables, console and PC gaming will most likely step-up their attempts to create streaming software for their gaming titles. Efforts have been made so far on the major two consoles, but at the time of writing neither streaming service has managed to achieve the traction that developers were hoping for.
Whatever does happen in the next decade will be big and revolutionary, if forecasts are to be believed – the industry’s revenues are predicted to grow six-fold by the end of the 2020s.