Very few modern industries can claim a year-on-year growth rate of over 30%, especially with the global impacts of the pandemic, which stalled progress within many fields. However, one industry that’s seen incredible growth over the past 20 years and continues to do so is gaming – which currently has a total value of nearly 200 billion USD.
But, when you take a step back and realize that there are 3.2 billion gamers worldwide, 2.2 billion of which actively play through their mobile devices, it’s no surprise that this industry has such high revenues. The gaming industry is an impressive facet of technology, representing an intersection between world-class tech, consumer advertising, and a level of community engagement that is rarely seen in other industries.
But where exactly does the interest in the gaming industry come from? How has it grown, and why is it so successful? In this article, we’ll be delving into the history of the gaming industry, outlining past progress points and pointing towards current and future developments that keep this innovative industry afloat.
Let’s get right into it!
Background to the gaming industry
The original gaming experiences date back to the 60s, when the development of arcade-style games started to become popular. In those days, gaming was not particularly mainstream, with users having to physically travel to an arcade in order to play.
As the 70s arrived and personal computers were released, gaming became slightly more popular as people could access online games from the comfort of their own homes. From that point, gaming has meandered with the times, taking on the latest technologies and developing alongside them.
From increasingly complicated software, better graphics, and advanced online gaming systems, the gaming industry has now developed into something that has touched the majority of the planet. Gaming has evolved far beyond just one system, now being a form of entertainment that can be accessed from absolutely anywhere.
While major consoles like Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch still dominate, forms of gaming on mobile have also become very popular. In fact, gaming actually accounts for 43% of smartphone use, demonstrating the extent to which gaming has permeated into this medium.
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If anything has caused a rapid expansion to the gaming industry, it’s the arrival of the internet and the integration of these multiplayer services. Some of the biggest games of every single year revolve around online experience, with over 3 billion people around the globe logging on to battle against others.
To accommodate for this, platforms like Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace have allowed users to completely turn their gaming experiences online. For example, while a user used to have to go out to buy a new game, they can now directly buy it on one of these online marketplaces and then download it to their device.
Gaming has become incredibly accessible, with users from around the globe on a variety of devices turning towards this entertainment medium.
A career in gaming?
While gaming is often viewed as a way of entertaining oneself, modern adaptations and natural competitiveness have also given way to eSports tournaments. In-game tournaments where the best of the best face off against each other has become a billion-dollar market, reaching that impressive figure in 2021.
This market is only predicted to continue to expand, with reports expecting the market to reach 1.62 billion dollars by 2024. People come together from all over the world to face off within their favorite games. Alongside hefty pools of prize money, some of which can total several $100,000 at once, there is also lots of capital generated from advertising and sponsorships.
Just like sporting events, this industry has also generated enough buzz that people now follow tune-in to watch these tournaments. In 2021, 427 million people watched an eSports event, whether that be a single match or going to a tournament in person to see their favorites. Much like the industry’s total value, the number of viewers each year is equally growing, with games like Dota, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Fortnite always bringing in huge audiences.
Watching others play has become so popular that entire platforms are now devoted to this, with applications like Twitch allowing users to tune into gamers streaming their gameplay. Twitch has had an incredible few years, moving from being valued at 0.1 billion USD in 2016 to 1.5 billion USD in 2019.
As gaming continues to develop, eSports has made this into a further level of entertainment, with gaming now bleeding into viewing. Just like physical sports, eSports has become a center for community, avid discussion, and world-class entertainment.
While gaming has continually been updating and changing over time, one of the most significant recent developments has been its combination with blockchain technologies. A genre of gaming has risen out of this, known as Play2Earn gaming, in which users can play their favorite games and earn money while doing so.
Unlike tournament gamers, you don’t have to be the best of the best to earn money through these systems. Instead, simply by completing objectives, quests, finishing games, or unlocking achievements, you’ll be able to generate in-game currency. The connection with the blockchain in the form of in-game cryptocurrency integrations ensures that players can then cash out this in-game money for their own local currency.
This even expands into in-game NFT items that have been integrated into certain games. These NFTs (non-fungible tokens) come in the form of different characters, skill sets, moves, powerups, or weapons that players can use when playing. By obtaining these NFTs in-game, they’re able to use them to get an advantage over their competition. But, alongside this, they are able to sell, trade, loan, or buy these NFTs within the games in order to generate an income.
The link between blockchain and gaming has now progressed even further with the arrival of Play2Earn tournaments. Ignite Tournaments is one of these said eSports tournament providers, allowing games from around the world to access their tournament ecosystem and gain cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Commenting on the rise of P2E tournaments, CEO of Ignite Tournaments, Krystal Yang comments that:
“Historically, the value stream in gaming has always been unidirectional, with gamers creating value that rewarded only the game publisher, who largely extracted value from users without providing any real rewards. P2E is an incredibly disruptive force that will revolutionize gaming as we know it. Now, gamers can be rewarded for ecosystem participation. Value is no longer simply extracted by the publisher. Rather, it is created and shared.”
— Krystal Yang, CEO/Co-Founder
With this most recent connection between the blockchain and gaming industries, we’ve seen just how far gaming can push the limits. With the ability to gain money for playing becoming even more common, this will serve as a motive for even more gamers that turn to this exciting entertainment medium.
Gaming Is For All
Perhaps one of the most impactful reasons for gaming’s success as an industry is due to the sheer scope it provides. Gaming is much more than just one genre of game or one style of playing; it encompasses almost anything you can think of. One only needs to look down the list of the most played games of 2021 to see an incredible variety of genres.
From first-person shooters and building games to story-driven experiences and online multiplayer, there is a demonstrative range of different styles that rise to the top. Going beyond this, every single year, 1000s of indie games are released that bring new art styles, new ideas, and new formats to the gaming industry.
Quite literally, no matter who you are, you’ll be able to find a gaming experience that you currently like. While one person may be attracted to fast spaced shoot-em-up games, another could want to play a story-driven game on their iPhone. The fact is, neither one of these is the right way to game, both counting as an authentic gaming experience.
Whoever you are, you’ll be able to find a game that accommodates what you’re looking for – be it wonder, magic, escapism, or something new. Even taking very generalized depictions of society and splitting it by gender, 45% of gamers identify as women in the USA and 55% as men. The close split between these numbers further demonstrates that gaming – and the appeal of gaming – isn’t tied to any inherent attributes.
This can equally be seen geographically, with gamers being found in every corner of the world, from Asia and Europe to Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
No matter what you’re looking for, the gaming industry and its incredible scope will have something that can accommodate you.
Long gone are the days when gaming was a small industry built upon developers working in their garages. Nowadays, this billion-dollar industry has expanded into an exciting behemoth. With new styles of gaming and unlimited possibilities, this industry has grown into something incredibly interesting to follow.
Gaming has grown so rapidly that it has now become a stable career path for those that excel, with online tournaments and accessible gaming ensuring that people can make money from the comfort of their own homes.
With the international scope, diverse audience, and regular developments, gaming is far more than just a pastime – it has become a worldwide sensation.
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