Blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy, online gaming has been one of the biggest drivers and showcases of technological advancements for decades. With a projected CAGR of 7.36%, the global online gaming revenue is expected to reach $31,328 million by 2025 with a user penetration rate of 16.4% – and the size of the industry itself is manyfold bigger.
Video games have been demonstrating the capabilities of the technological revolution since the 1980s. From the two-dimensional, text-based games to 3D graphics, the progress is hard to believe, but here we are, at the cusp of even bigger changes as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and cloud gaming are knocking on the door.
As mind-mending as it seems, the best is yet to come. And now let’s take our hands off the joysticks, keyboards, and mobile phones and pay tribute to the main driving forces of gaming: extended reality, gambling elements, cloud gaming, and eSports.
Extended Realities: Virtual, Augmented, Mixed
Creating the most realistic and immersive simulations of a 3D environment, the extended realities transform our perception of games beyond recognition, allowing us to feel, smell, and taste the virtual world. Even some software providers and online casinos – for example, Unibet – have incorporated VR elements into their games and interfaces.
- Virtual Reality (VR) completely shuts out the physical world in favor of a virtual one, through Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, and the devices alike. You can even play VR games on your desktop computer without glasses and accessories, though the immersion won’t be that deep then.
- Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a real-world picture on the screen of your smartphone. The most popular AR game ever is Pokemon Go.
- Mixed Reality (MR) combines the elements of AR and VR, producing a smooth interaction of digital and physical objects.
The overarching term for the three above is Extended Reality (XR), but even this all-encompassing term isn’t broad enough to describe the possibilities of the future. We already can control software by sending brain signals through Emotiv EPOC, and it’s only a matter of time when the neurocomputer interfaces will allow us to command the characters by mere thinking.
Cooperation Between the Adjacent Industries
The connection between gaming and gambling might not seem obvious, but video games have long been taken advantage of gambling elements. Loot boxes, mini-slot machines, social casino games, and many other little gambling pleasantries are already a routine for millions of gamers. Red Dead Redemption, The Witcher 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Final Fantasy VIII are just a few among many examples of gambling-powered games.
Conventional business models no longer work. Selling games to gamers just like that won’t do any more for several reasons. First, gamers aren’t willing to pay until they at least try the game. Second, they favor games through which they can socialize. Finally, they love diversity, voluntarism, and the ability to reward fellow players, streamers, and professional gamers within the interface of the game.
Having <a href=”https://www.statista.com/statistics/932758/cloud-gaming-market-world/” rel=”nofollow”>doubled in its value</a> in a year, Cloud Gaming connects millions of gambling aficionados to their favorite games as they no longer need to purchase heavy-duty equipment to run the title they want. Instead, they can launch the game on the cloud and get a high-quality video picture on their computer or smartphone screen.
Cloud Gaming is a very new technology, but it’s already backed by Nvidia, StreamMyGame, G-Cluster, and a few other companies. What’s more, it will greatly benefit from the high-speed 5G Internet as the latter unrolls throughout the world to increase the bandwidth manyfold.
The pinnacle of gaming, eSports has all the chance to outshine traditional sports. Valued at $1.08 billion, the global eSports market is projected to reach $1.62 billion by 2024, and it won’t stop there as the revenues from sponsorship, media rights, streaming, and merchandise are getting bigger and bigger.
At the end of the day, though, eSports is powered by gamers just like traditional sports is powered by fans. And here we have yet another impressive piece of statistics: the number of active video gamers worldwide increased from 1.99 billion in 2015 to 2.81 billion in 2021, and it’s expected to cross the 3 billion mark in 2023. Guess who carries the torch? The Asia Pacific region with over 1.5 billion gamers.
Last but not least, more and more females start playing games. In 2020, the ratio between males and females was 59% to 41%, a mind-bending number for the traditionally male-oriented industry. Female protagonists, attributes, and the overall female vibe will make gaming gender-agnostic, which is just what we would like to see as we approach the second quarter of the XXI century.