The video game industry has experienced substantial growth across almost every field in the last three years. With growth comes inevitable change, and we at Gamesmith have the skinny on the 10 biggest trends shaking up the video game profession.
1. Work from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated drastic change in the way companies hire and conduct business, which means that working from home has become the new normal. And so far, ‘new normal’ is going pretty well.
A spate of recent surveys found that employers, salaried employees, and freelancers alike are quite fond of the structure. According to one study, 98% of people working from home said that they would like to continue doing so for the rest of their careers. 80% of employers said they planned to allow staff to work from home, or at the very least allow flex office hours, even after office buildings begin to reopen.
So many companies (especially studios) undertook radical infrastructure changes to streamline work-from-home capabilities, and these new arrangements will probably still be commonplace once the pandemic is over. This is good news; it’s likely that you could find your dream job halfway across the country and your location won’t impact your ability to land it.
2. Virtual/Augmented Reality
Virtual/Augmented reality technology is more than just a cool new gaming feature. It represents the future of what our careers are going to look like- and it’s already starting. Nearly half of game makers are or have been involved in AR/VR development; with the growth of Oculus and other VR companies looking to corner the market, that number will only continue to grow. The virtual reality gaming market size was already valued at $11.56 billion in 2019. VR/AR tech is only going to continue improving and expanding into new territories, putting this market at a projected (and staggering) growth rate of 30.2% by 2027.
We’ve all heard of it, but what exactly does it mean? Fifth generation of what?
5G stands for ‘fifth generation’, and it pertains specifically to cellular broadband networks. It has been widely touted that 5G is 100% faster than 4G, with a maximum transfer rate of 225MB/s (4G’s max rate is 12.5MB/s). But what does that mean?
Well, in a perfect lab setting 5G is an astounding 18x faster than 4G. But even outside of pristine conditions, 5G will still provide faster, smoother mobile service, which will inevitably improve mobile gaming conditions. But that’s not the only thing 5G can do. It will expand into the motor vehicle, military, and healthcare industries as well. Implementation will enable vehicles to communicate with each other, allow for remote precision surgeries, improve teleconferencing and augmented reality applications, and more. And it’s going to be sweet.
4. Free to Play (F2P)
The free-to-play model seems like it’s on the up-and-up too. Of the roughly $175 billion the gaming industry brought in over the course of 2020, 78% of it was through the free-to-play model. Who knew free could be so profitable?
5. Subscription Model
The subscription model is another trend that is really gaining a lot of traction during the pandemic. With more people at home, both while working and relaxing, subscription-based platforms present an enticing appeal.
It’s one thing to pay $11.99 for a service that you use when you make it back home in the evenings from work. It’s another entirely when you have virtually 24/7 access to it.
Expect to see this trend subside somewhat post-pandemic.
6. User-Generated Content
User-generated content has seen a sharp rise over the past couple of years. Whether this is the result of a creative burst of player inspiration or an intentional shift from developers is a point of ongoing debate.
Originally termed ‘modding’, this practice has become much more popular thanks to advances in online technology. Take Roblox for example: users can create both small and large scale assets and share them with users the world over.
7. Games as a Social Platform
Video games aren’t a purely solo experience anymore- far from it. We are all accustomed to online gaming, but what might be less apparent is just how social these games have become. Online communities have grown exponentially during the pandemic. As a father of two, I know just how difficult it can be for children to not be able to see their friends at school. Online gaming has become their new playground.
Every member of the video gaming industry should be filled with pride at this accomplishment. Because of our contributions to our craft, children around the world are able to play and stay connected with one another during a time of profound loneliness and loss of community and structure. It’s kind of sublime, isn’t it?
This is arguably one of the most gaming-changing trends to ever affect the industry, and its growth has kept pace with that of online communities.
From organic marketing to large scale e-sports tournaments, streaming platforms like Twitch are making an impact across the board. Just in the third quarter of 2020 alone, over 205 million hours of content were streamed on Twitch. That’s over 23,000 years of content. In 3 months.
9. Mobile Gaming
You can’t have a list like this without mentioning the massive gains in mobile gaming. 5G rollouts are partially responsible for this growth- it’s making high profile games more responsive and easier to attain.
Additionally, companies like ASUS and RedMagic are now designing smartphones for the specific purpose of mobile gaming. And you better believe that they are powerful. The RedMagic 5G gaming phone has a 144Hz refresh capable 6.65” screen, a Snapdragon 865 CPU and 12GB of RAM. What a time to be alive.
10. Tabletop to Online
This last trend is one to pay particular attention to over the coming years. It’s still somewhat of an emerging topic, but one that many old-school gamers hold very closely to their hearts.
Tabletop games, especially in the realm of TCG’s such as Magic the Gathering, are beginning to make their way to the virtual world. Dungeons and Dragons-type adventure games are also experiencing a huge boost in online play during the pandemic on platforms such as Roll20.net. The future of this trend isn’t entirely flushed out yet, which means there may soon be a huge market for innovation and investment.
If you enjoy this kind of content and would like to keep up-to-date on industry trends and network with other gaming professionals, head over to Gamesmith and create your free account today. It’s quick and easy and always free.
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