The online gaming sector has been growing steadily for years, but 2020 and 2021 proved to be hugely significant in the growth trend of this industry.
With many countries in lockdown, people were forced to spend more time than usual at home, and online gaming was one of the ways that we were able to entertain ourselves, while also enabling us to socialize with others at a time when that was heavily restricted in many regions.
One of the results of this development was a dramatic increase in revenue for the global games market, which passed the $175bn mark and may pass $200bn by the close of 2023.
How much of this growth was due to the lockdowns is unclear, but what we can say for sure is that the online gaming sector has been growing for years and if anything, is accelerating in its development. This mirrors similar levels of growth in other online sectors, such as finance, where new payment methods are emerging every year, and sports betting, as liberalization around the world is leading to the significant expansion of many of the top sports betting brands.
But looking past the numbers, what does this expansion mean for online gamers? As 2022 draws to a close, what trends and innovations can we expect to see in 2023?
The metaverse and online ecosystems
The metaverse, at least, as imagined by Facebook, has had its critics, but few doubt that a version of the metaverse is the future. The gaming industry in particular is eager to exploit the possibilities, even though we are at the early stages of development. As 2023 goes on, we can expect to see an accelerating interest in the metaverse. With greater adoption, we are likely to see investment from companies eager to win market share in the new world, leading to ever-faster development.
You might be surprised to learn that of the $175bn in gaming global revenues earned in 2021, more than half of that amount was generated by mobile gaming. In the previous year, there had been a dramatic increase of 12.5% in mobile gaming players, and game companies will try to meet this demand.
We can expect to see the emergence of mobile games that are playable on multiple devices, while gaming-related features in mobile device design will become more sophisticated. The future is likely to include a shift away from dedicated mobile gaming devices and towards better game compatibility for standard mobile devices.
This makes sense from a customer perspective. If your standard mobile device is able to play the same games as your dedicated mobile gaming device, then why the need for separate devices? And with 5G technology rolling out, online gaming is set to become faster and ever more accessible.
Obviously, mobile games platforms are competing with a lot of other sources for your attention, so it is likely that we will see mobile gaming companies offering loyalty programs and other rewards for players who keep returning to them, which is good news for players.
Cloud gaming is another trend that could shape the online gaming sector through 2023 and over the next few years. The advantages of cloud gaming are obvious. These services provide players with content sent directly from the cloud, with the same level of responsiveness that you would normally only see with physical game consoles.
Big companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google, have been involved in this area of development in gaming for years, but progress has been slowed by the relatively slow development of mobile internet networks. But as 5G mobile internet begins to become more common in 2023, along with the expansion of the fiber broadband network, these obstacles will be removed.
In anticipation of a breakthrough in cloud gaming, many of these companies have been investing heavily in this area. Other giants of the media sector, including Netflix, are considering entering the industry, which looks to be the future of gaming.
In addition to the obvious advantages in convenience that cloud gaming offers, it also offers a revolutionary future for the gaming industry itself. Previously, game developing cycles have been locked into hardware cycles, but with cloud gaming, developers will not be limited by aging technology. For fans of online gaming, the result should be an increase in gaming accessibility, and reduced costs for consoles as the 2020s roll on, with significant changes likely to emerge in 2023.