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There’s no question that the online gaming industry is on a winning streak right now, with impressive growth forecast for the foreseeable future and audiences expanding internationally.
So what are the reasons behind this meteoric rise, and will it really continue to enjoy such a compelling trajectory indefinitely?
New innovations breed player interest
The gaming industry is always evolving, and this helps to keep people engaged with whatever it has to offer, because people crave novelty and multiplayer titles deliver it in spades.
Whether you’re interested in competing in fast-paced action titles like Call of Duty and Fortnite, or you’re eager to learn how to play poker online for money, the amount of variety combined with innovative ways to play, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, means there’s never a dull moment as a gamer.
The cloud is changing up access for everyone
Perhaps the biggest shift that’s going on at the moment in online gaming is the move away from being reliant on end user hardware to determine the quality of the experience.
Instead, cloud computing is taking up the burden of crunching the numbers and storing the game files, while the results are streamed directly to players on any device they prefer. Services like Google Stadia have offered cloud-powered gaming for a while now, and while they are not perfect, the future does seem to be going in this direction.
Microsoft is arguably pushing for a cloud-based gaming future more than any other company, and its latest Xbox consoles look like a step towards eventually embracing games-as-a-service as the only future for the industry.
This is also turning games into a subscription rather than a one-off purchase. Renting access to a huge library of titles, as well as eliminating local hardware limitations from the equation, is ultimately making high end gaming more accessible and affordable for the average person. The one caveat is of course having fast internet access to minimize game streaming hiccups.
The social aspect is compelling
Another catalyst of online gaming’s success is the way in which it is innately social, and thus taps into the human need to communicate and engage with other people.
Multiplayer titles have built up huge communities around the globe for many years, and yet it is in the age of social media dominance that the true value of this connectedness can be seen.
From direct in-game voice chat to text-base conversations, to the simple act of working together with other players in teams, it’s easy to see why gamers get an endorphin hit from picking up a controller and logging on for some cooperative or combative entertainment.
In turn this is feeding into predictions about how the Metaverse will expand in the coming years. The idea of people living their lives in a fully virtual world, while still remote in the mainstream, is already becoming a reality through the use of VR, in combination with live services from various developers and platform providers.
Mobility still makes a difference
Mobile gaming is a major contributor to the market as a whole, and there’s plenty of proof that portability is a driving factor in the current era.
From cost-conscious consoles like the Nintendo Switch to hardcore-focused machines like Valve’s Steam Deck, there are dedicated hardware solutions for every niche. Then there are smartphone games, which again cater to the casual players as well as to the more serious acolytes of this pastime.
All of this means that even the most pessimistic outlook for the industry anticipates continued growth, particularly in developing markets.