No matter what year it is, online gaming is an industry that will continue to thrive. It’s just that social distancing protocols have encouraged a lot of people to spend time at home — and thus, online — and made online gaming’s growth faster than ever. A study from gaming analysis firm Newzoo even states that 2020 reached over $174 billion in revenue, which was $15 billion higher than their earlier forecast.
As such, it’s going to be a very robust online gaming market this year, as the following trends show:
We can’t talk about online gaming trends without discussing the success of mobile gaming. Last year, mobile games saw 45% more app installations — greatly outpacing 2019’s 32% growth. After all, a lot of mobile games are free-to-play, even if there are in-app purchases, which makes them a great option for gamers who don’t want to invest money into their entertainment. There’s a variety of them, too, from MMORPGs for invested gamers to online collection titles for the more casual ones.
Compared to mobile games, other mainstream gaming platforms like PC and console seem expensive. There’s just no getting around that $60 price tag — and while it may drop to $30 or even $20 on sale, it’s still a purchase not many are willing to make. Fortunately, cloud gaming offers an affordable solution: Instead of paying $60 for one game, you pay $60 for a year’s access to a library of them. For example, Microsoft has a streaming service called Project xCloud for Xbox users. Similarly, cloud platform Google Stadia is available for PC gamers.
Social gaming is an online activity that allows you to interact with other people while you play. And in times of social distancing, more people have been turning to it to socialize.
One great example of social games is online bingo. Despite being played solo most of the time, online bingo has a very supportive community, and they interact a lot in live chats on bingo sites. True enough, the range of games on Cheeky Bingo not only includes a variety of exciting titles like Big Money Frenzy and Temple of Light, but also chat rooms where players can interact. There are even chat games like Racehorse and Pour Me A Double that people can play. Similarly, multiplayer games like mobile poker and online Uno are also great places for social gaming.
The pandemic may have cancelled a lot of competitive gaming events last year, like the Pokémon Championship Series and the Fortnite World Cup. However, it has also driven a lot of related activity online. For example, instead of cancelling the 2020 Overwatch League, the event was hosted online and will very likely be the same this year.
We’re also seeing a lot of new contenders on the list. Riot Games, for instance, is conducting their first official tournament for VALORANT — one of the biggest competitive games on Twitch today. The season just started this February with the finals coming in December. Riot hasn’t announced if that is going to be online or not, but all the elimination games before it will certainly be.
Virtual reality (VR) is a piece of technology that makes waves no matter what year it is, as evidenced by new headset additions like the Oculus Quest line. Its main selling point is its immersive experience, which is great for a lot of online games that are played in first-person, like Phasmophobia and No Man’s Sky. There are even simulation games that can easily fall under social gaming, such as Tabletop Simulator and virtual casinos like PokerStars VR.
Plus, VR headsets are much cheaper now thanks to the increasing number of competitors in the market. In fact, you can buy an Oculus Quest for as little as $299 — a nice price adjustment from the $399 tag when it first came out.
Online gaming makes great strides every year, leading to its steady growth. Current circumstances just happened to be the perfect environment for it to expand even further.