The video gaming industry generated an impressive $120.1 billion in revenue during 2019 after enjoying strong growth across multiple sectors. Mobile gaming led the way with $64.4 billion, followed by PC and consoles, while free-to-play gaming continued to dominate the landscape.
That stands in stark contrast to alternative forms of entertainment. The global music industry generated just $19.1 billion in 2019, while the global box office for films stands at around $40 million per year.
Does that mean it is time for more people to start taking video gaming seriously?
It is safe to say that many business leaders are already taking the video gaming industry very seriously indeed. All the major players in Silicon Valley have invested heavily in this exciting space. Alphabet has just launched Google Stadia, a cloud-based service that aims to become the Netflix of gaming, and it continues to invest in YouTube Gaming.
Amazon owns Twitch, the world’s biggest streaming platform for gaming content, and Facebook has recently launched a rival, while Microsoft’s Mixer platform is going from strength to strength. Microsoft’s new Xbox will vie for supremacy will Sony’s PS5 in the console arena when they are both launched later this year.
Chinese holding company Tencent has had tremendous success with games like League of Legends and Arena of Valor, making billions each year from gaming.
Then there is the burgeoning esports sector, which is now worth more than $1 billion per year in sponsorships, media rights, ticket sales and merchandising. Endemic sponsors like Intel and Comcast have backed it heavily through advertising deals, but so have a huge amount of non-endemic sponsors, including MasterCard, Nike, KFC, Audi, Coca-Cola and Mercedes.
The gambling industry is taking it very seriously too, as many of the world’s largest bookmakers now have growing esports sections, following in the footsteps of pioneers like Unikrn esports. The global esports betting handle is tipped to reach $12.9 billion this year.
Esports is big business and so are the free-to-play games that dominate the scene. Fortnite earned $1.8 billion in 2019 and League of Legends pulled in $1.5 billion, according to Nielsen Superdata. The microtransaction model that sees gamers charged for in-game battle passes and cosmetics that personalize the experience has proved to be remarkably successful.
The rise of mobile gaming has also allowed the industry to redress a historic gender balance and target a far wider range of demographics.
A decade ago gamers were stereotyped in some quarters as antisocial loners, content to lock themselves away and eschew human interaction for hours on end. That was always a lazy stereotype, and nowadays it could not be further from the truth.
Video gaming has become a truly social pursuit, as many of the world’s most popular games are multiplayer titles. Friends team up and head onto Summoner’s Rift to do battle with another group, resulting in hours of exciting, intense, strategic fun.
It brings gamers from across the world together too, as they are able to join forces or compete with one another and bond over a shared love of a particular game. There are passionate communities on social media channels, fan sites, and streaming platforms, ensuring that billions of people are now connected via gaming.
People love playing games because it offers an immersive and interactive form of entertainment. It allows people to shape the experience through the decisions they make, and achieving success can be highly rewarding.
The quality has also shot up significantly over the past decade. It is a real growth industry, flush with cash, and it is able to attract the best designers, storytellers, actors, composers and technical experts to create a genuinely magnificent offering.
Oscar-winning Hollywood heavyweights are increasingly being lured over to the gaming sector, along with some of the world’s most talented developers.
Gaming over-indexes among youngsters, because they have grown up with technology, so its future looks exceptionally bright. Schools are also getting in on the act because they know they can boost students’ academic performance by incorporating gaming and esports into the curriculum.
Educators know that extracurricular activities boost the success of their students, as it improves their attendance rates, fosters a sense of belonging and distracts from temptations like drinking and drugs. In many schools and colleges, esports stars are the new jocks, as competitive gaming success is becoming aspirational.
Many of these games help students develop science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. Schools that have embraced competitive gaming say it improves student recruitment and retention, engages students, teaches them new skills, prepares them for the job market and generally elevates campus life.
Yet many older adults still take a dim view of video gaming. It is time for that to end, as so many of the stereotypes perpetuated over the years are just plain wrong.
For example, some feel that gaming detracts from physical exercise. Yet most superstar gamers of the modern era are slim and healthy, as they begin to mirror the lifestyle choices of traditional sports stars.
They have dieticians, sports scientists, psychologists and more, and maintaining a poor diet will simply not do. The role models young gamers look up to are becoming increasingly healthy.
They need to stay physically fit in order to build up the endurance it takes to thrive when engaging in long gaming sessions. There are still some chubby gamers eating junk food and guzzling energy drinks, but they are in the minority. Gaming will also become a far less sedentary pursuit as augmented reality improves in the years ahead.
Gaming is also extremely educational. Youngsters learn best when having fun, and so do older generations. Gaming and particularly virtual reality – which is improving all the time – can be used to bring a classroom to life. VR is even used in surgery nowadays.
Ultimately gaming is the future. Many predict that esports will eventually overtake traditional sports in the popularity stakes, and gaming is already bigger than music and film. Anyone that chooses to dismiss gaming as a serious pursuit is living in the past, and they are also missing out on a truly intoxicating blend of entertainment, education, and excitement.