Developments and trends in the video game industry: from entertainment to professionalism
Video games have been evolving since they were released in the 1970s. Arcades quickly won over consumers, propelling the video game industry forward. Flagship games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man (which generated more than a billion dollars in a single year) have become legends in their own right.
However, the video game market was not always flourishing, as the 80s proved: many games were flops due to their poor quality, which led to an invasion of bad productions in the industry, driving retailers and developers into debt. Although the situation seemed catastrophic, the industry’s collapse was not its destiny: in 1985, the entry of Shigeru Miyamoto marked the rebirth of video games. New consoles were born, such as the NES, and new games, such as Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros, which continue to leave their mark today. The video game industry was on the rise from then on, thanks to the release of new consoles like the Game Boy or the MegaDrive by Sega.
The 90s saw the arrival and popularization of PC games, as well as the marketing of the PlayStation, which played a major role in the $50 billion industry. The video game market exploded in the 2000s with the Xbox, Wii, PlayStation 3 and PC games such as The Sims and the hugely popular World of Warcraft (2004) and League of Legends (2009). Added to this was the advent of smartphones and mobile gaming apps: this was the start of a new era.
Video games: more than just entertainment
It’s clear, then, that video games have profoundly affected people’s minds. Creating new platforms and game modes has turned the industry into an inexhaustible fashion phenomenon. Alongside the many innovations, video games have taken on two new forms: those of a profession and those of a sport. With the launch in 2011 of the Twitch platform (which specializes in broadcasting games LIVE) and the democratization of YouTube with its many gaming channels, video games will attract much attention, increasing the number of viewers and followers and thus fuelling the media. YouTubers and video gamers became official professional activities.
But that’s not all! Video games are now not only taking a professional aspect but also becoming a sport. The legitimisation and recognition of eSports marked a new era for video games. Although the practice was already somewhat well known, it was not considered a sporting practice or something serious. In the space of just a few years, eSport has been established in many countries around the world. The prize money and the number of official events organized have risen considerably. eSport has become a primary multimedia market, generating millions of dollars in revenue (1.38 billion by 2022) and attracting numerous investors.
The video game industry is evolving by the day and spreading around the world. While traditional practices are not tiring, others are emerging and adapting to new demands.
The 21st century brings new forms of gaming
The advent of free-to-play, game services and dematerialisation has profoundly changed the video games market in recent years. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have introduced a new form of gaming, combining reality and the virtual, each in a different way but promising consumers a unique experience. Virtual reality has been a big hit with gamers because of its immersive experience.
These new technologies joined cloud gaming, which enables video games to be played using remote servers, making it easier to play. Several platforms have also wanted to join the gaming world, such as Amazon with Amazon Luna, or Netflix, which recently added video games to its streaming service. To this end, Netflix has recruited several seasoned executives to key positions in its gaming division.
There have been many developments, but retro-gaming is not in danger of collapsing any time soon because while new forms of gaming have appeared, they are no more popular than ‘old-fashioned’ games. The future of video games promises spectacular advances, allowing players to fully integrate into their virtual world and enjoy a unique experience by providing easier access to all types of games. Despite this, these new forms of gaming are still not accessible to everyone because they are sometimes too expensive: it remains to be seen whether supply will be able to keep pace with demand.
What’s the outcome? The video games industry has grown yearly, reaching heights that might otherwise have seemed unattainable. From entertainment to business and sport, video games have demonstrated their potential and asserted themselves in the best possible way. The year 2020 registered spectacular revenues from the gaming industry: 165 billion dollars. According to Newzoo, the video game market will be worth over $200 billion by 2022, with over 3 billion players. Today, video games have definitely taken a new direction, blending technological innovation with a new generation of consoles, presenting a new way of consuming. The future of video games is still uncertain: is it destined to condemn physical games in favor of services and the cloud? Only time will tell.