If the word ‘gaming’ brings to your mind the image of a lone gamer in a dark room, preferably in the basement, with big headphones on, just staring at the console or computer screen with undivided attention, you may not be wrong. Or at least not wrong because this is how pop culture has defined gaming. But to add to the digital disruptions going around the world, the gaming industry as we know it may be in for a rosy change.
The video game industry has grown bigger during the coronavirus pandemic, with more and more big tech companies wanting a piece of the pie. With over two billion people playing video games regularly, close to $130 billion are spent on video games annually. So much so that Accenture reported the global estimated revenue of games is higher than the combined sales of music and movies.
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The definition of gaming has broadened to include smartphone games, social media games, advertising in games, apart from the conventional computer and console video games. We are in the middle of re-imagining the gaming industry to leverage cloud computing, making it more social and a little less doomscrolling.
Gaming in the clouds- Multi-Device Gaming
Imagine gamers enjoying the power of video games in bits and pieces, anywhere, anytime. Playing PokemonGo on their mobile phones while travelling or Halo on their laptops if the mobile screen suddenly feels small. They have the power to change devices per their moods.
The power of cloud computing allows developers to separate the technical power required to play a game from the actual device it is being played on. This means saying hello to mobile phone games, among other things. Companies increasingly leverage remote data centres to stream games into any user preference.
Cloud gaming is bringing massive transformation to the gaming industry. The lone gamer in his basement now has the opportunity to take a break from the computer if he wants to. Or a gamer who has not been able to afford consoles and video games now has the accessibility to download games on her phone.
Gaming has been synonymous with consoles, video games and computers, and the changing face of the industry is making games accessible all around us. In fact, even Zoom now includes poker, mystery and trivia games on the platform. TikTok allows it’s one billion + users to stream games, and Netflix just confirmed adding video games as part of their service.
While we see mainstream use of the metaverse, the VR and AR technology in the gaming industry, the future of video games still remains in a haze. However, most major big tech firms, including Apple, Google, Meta and Amazon, are starting to show an interest in ramping up their investment in the gaming industry.
According to Adrian Montgomery, CEO of Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc at BNN Bloomberg, these big tech companies are finding potential and following the consumption patterns of Generation Z, which is quickly flocking to gaming.
So what exactly are they bringing to the table?
In an event with Protocol, some of the top leaders in the gaming world, Chris Mahoney, Kellee Santiago and Fredrick Descamps, discussed how metaverse is redefining gaming. We have identified upcoming trends that you may see in the gaming industry.
Steering from escapism: the sweet spot between reality & gaming
The gaming industry has been associated with ‘escapism’, and while some might prefer that, according to Kellee, the developing industry provides resources for those who want to steer away from escapism and lean into entertainment. The computing power of the internet allows the industry to find a space where the real world meets the gaming world. Chris supported the idea, stating how the metaverse mirrors the most native form of human communication that happens in 3D, leading to a deeper connection.
The metaverse is much more about creating a world for gamers to share rather than allowing them to immerse themselves individually. Just as Kellee shared, we don’t need to play games on a single home computer surrounded by low internet anymore. The power of United Gaming Communities is only heightened in creating social experiences by new-age technologies just owing to their proximity to the real world. From his own experience, Fredrick discussed the magic of games like PokemonGo or Discord that have led to socialising despite the platforms not being multiplayer or having the best graphics. The magic is in accessibility.
Accessibility/ Casual metaverse
Termed ‘casual metaverse’, these are the games you might play on Snapchat or TikTok. The accessibility of playing these games without the need for headsets or VRs has allowed such platforms to have tens of millions of downloads. This is opposed to high tech platforms that are still more tightly connected and niche in nature. These will only appeal to people with the money to engage with them. On the other hand, social web-based games have become more available for more people across places and platforms.
Entertainment is moving in the direction of “little points of interaction throughout the day”, said Kellee. A significant shift in the industry, owing to accessible games, is that people will engage in bite-sized bits of entertainment.
Traditionally, games have not been the all stimulating paragons of human connection. On the contrary, they have been the opposite. But something interactive and interconnected is brewing in the industry, and most of it may not lie in the VR/AR apprehension.