The gaming industry is almost unrecognisable in 2023 when compared to the console-heavy era of the late 1980s to early 2000s. The widespread availability of advanced technology and data connections has meant that the industry has been able to transcend its previous limitations.
No longer bound by the need to run an additional physical device or specific location, gaming made the switch to the online realm at the start of the 21st century and has redefined entertainment experiences. Digital gaming is now one of the largest segments of the industry and has, in turn, spawned brand new gaming markets such as mobile gaming, iGaming and eSports.
This article will be discovering the trends that have become synonymous with each of these thoroughly modern gaming markets.
Now considered to be the most popular segment of the global gaming industry, mobile gaming is easily identifiable by its proliferation of hypercasual games, incorporation of AR technology, and inventive monetization.
Hypercasual games are lightweight apps that require very little in the way of hardware, making them suitable for all types of mobile phones. They’re characterised by basic mechanics and instant gameplay, and are a hit across the entire spectrum of gamers. More and more gaming companies are entering the hypercasual vertical, each hoping to out-perform InkedGaming and Skiddy Car.
One advantage that mobile devices have over traditional consoles or PCs is an increased level of user engagement. Gaming companies are tapping into that power to deliver unprecedented gaming experiences that incorporate Augmented Reality (AR). 2016’s Pokémon Go was credited was kickstarting the trend, while more recently, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite has taken things to the next level after generating $300,000 in sales within 24 hours of launch.
Mobile gaming has also helped set the trend for inventive monetisation that is now prevalent throughout the wider gaming industry. Due to oversaturated marketplaces, developers have had to look for new ways to generate revenue streams from their apps beyond simply charging fees for downloads. This has led to the development of effective strategies, such as mobile ad formats, video ad formats, and rewarded ad units.
The iGaming industry, which incorporates the online casino, poker and betting markets, has undergone huge changes over the past decade.
Gaming operators have poured significant resources into creating brand new experiences that are comparable to other types of gaming and mainstream home entertainment. Because of this drive for innovation, the sector currently expands at an average rate of 11.9% a year. Not content with average gaming experiences, iGaming developers are some of the most adventurous when it comes to incorporating Virtual Reality into their portfolios.
Another key trend that iGaming operators like PokerStars Casino embark on is to offer a variety of bonuses and promotions to customers at each stage of the relationship. It’s not uncommon for a platform to gift free spins or cash offers to loyal customers, while the vast majority of reputable online casinos attract new customers with no deposit bonuses.
It’s not just within the market itself that iGaming operators face increased levels of competition. The digitisation of casino gaming has meant that brick and mortar casinos have had to innovate in a bid to stay relevant in these changing times. To counter this, iGaming has become synonymous with the potential to win life-changing prizes, thanks to innovations like progressive jackpot slots and low-stakes gaming.
Competitive video gaming has swiftly integrated into popular culture, drawing the attention of global brands, media outlets, investors and, more importantly, consumers. The eSports market has superb pulling power; according to industry insiders, the global audience for pro gaming in 2023 is expected to grow to 26.6 million per month – an 11.4% increase from 2023.
Another characteristic of eSports gaming is the large social component involved in live gaming and live streaming. The rise of platforms like Twitch and YouTube can partly be traced to the increased interest in gaming content expressed by global players. Enterprising gamers, eSports teams and brands, meanwhile, have been able to capitalise on the enhanced interaction and direct connections that social media platforms can offer to capture larger audience numbers.
With the PC gaming market worth around $35 billion (Newzoo), it’s a pretty lucrative market to hold a monopoly over. Up until recently, the most dominant force in PC gaming was a platform that you may have heard of, going by the name of Valve’s Steam.
As one of the pioneering platforms in the PC gaming space, Steam owns a significant chunk of the market – 47% of game publishers use the platform as their first port of call and it’s popular with the global gaming community at large. However, several of the more “underdog” game streaming platforms are beginning to disrupt the monopoly that Valve has long held.
GOG.com and Epic Games are two such game streaming storefronts that are chipping away at Steam’s dominance.
GOG has existed for almost as long as Steam and used to specialise in older and retro games, so targeted a different demographic of gamers. But now, the platform offers a variety of games including mainstream releases like The Witcher 3, Magic and Heroes of Night. Another aspect that is in GOG’s favour is that all of the games sold on the platform are DRM-free, which essentially means that gamers can play titles without the platform having to verify purchase.
While GOG still remains more on the niche side of things, Epic Games poses a real long-term threat to Steam’s position. Sure, much like Valve’s offering and Good Old Games, Epic offers a decent library of games across the genre-spectrum, which can be launched and played inside the platform as well as locally stored. There’s a community element to the platform too, allowing gamers to connect and link up for multiplayer action. It’s the game library itself that makes Epic Games stand out, however. It’s the only platform to offer Fortnite for PC and for quite some time the platform had exclusivity rights to Metro Exodus. With further releases set for 2023 that could place Epic’s eponymous store into a stronger position, it will be interesting to see how this battle between the gaming titans plays out.