Compared to the rest of the entertainment sector, commercial at-home gaming is still a relatively new field — meaning that it’s constantly evolving as it grows. Take your eyes off of the video game world for just a moment and suddenly everything has changed.
Investors, developers, and gamers are all keen to know what the next big trend will be, but predicting it is far easier said than done. What’s making a splash now may be done for in just a few months; the key is staying a step ahead of it all. If you’re hoping to capitalize on what’s next in gaming, take a look at what’s already impacting the industry:
It’s simple: there are more people playing games and consuming game-related content than ever before. According to data from gaming expert Matt Ball, consumers spent $120 billion on video games in 2019 — more than triple the size of the global box office.
While popular titles like Grand Theft Auto V or Minecraft boast hundreds of millions of regular players on their own, their reach doesn’t just end there. Team shooter Valorant boasted a record-setting 334 million hours viewed on Twitch in just the month of April alone. If people aren’t playing games, they’re watching others do so.
Anyone looking to find a new way into gaming needs to remember that games are a viewed form of entertainment as much as they are a played one — and changes in the way people think about streaming reflect that.
2. Streaming as a career
Just a few years ago, the idea that someone could make a living by playing video games live a few hours a week would be totally novel; today, it’s old news. As more and more streamers carve out niches and establish loyal fanbases for themselves, more gamers see a streaming career as a serious possibility.
According to TwitchStats, there are now over 4000 streamers on Twitch who average 100 or more viewers per stream — enough to turn streaming into a lucrative venture. An increasingly large number of streamers are achieving Affiliate or Partner status with Twitch, meaning that they get a 50% cut of the money that their subscribers pay to watch.
It’s difficult to say how many streamers can successfully make a living at any given time with the current audience size, but both of those numbers are bound to grow exponentially in the coming years.
3. A diversifying base
As more people start playing video games and watching game-related streams, the people who do so are starting to change as well. The image of a gamer as an isolated, teenage boy is no longer an accurate one — not only are 41% of gamers women, but 44% of people over the age of 50 enjoy playing video games at least once a month according to a survey from AARP.
As the demographics of gamers change, so will gaming as a whole. While some recent popular games such as The Last of Us Part II and Overwatch have received attention for including a highly inclusive roster of characters, the industry still has a long way to go in reflecting its evolving player base.
4. The impacts of COVID-19
Every trend listed here is only being magnified by the effects of COVID-19 on the world. As more and more people are being asked to stay home and common forms of entertainment are being postponed, more people are turning to video games: internet usage due to gaming is up 75% since the beginning of the pandemic according to Matt Ball.
Stay-at-home orders also mean more streamers and more people to watch streams, but there’s a dark side to all of this as well. Because of shuttered offices and disrupted work schedules, many gaming companies are being forced to delay or cancel previously-planned projects. The full effects of this may not be felt for another few months, but the pandemic is poised to reduce supply nearly as much as it has increased demand.
5. Community is king
This is one of the key reasons that we started PvP.com, and non-gamers often think of video games as things that happen alone in a dark room. While this might have been true for some old school gamers, the 21st century has more than done away with that stereotype. People who watch streams rarely do so because they want killer gameplay — they want to become part of a gaming community, and as COVID-related isolation gets to more people, more people will want access to that community.
Matt Ball wisely concludes that “the most significant impact of COVID-19 is likely to be how it helps de-stigmatize virtual existence.” Some people want their own personal communities and networks to be digital, and video games can help facilitate that desire.
Video games are an ever-changing medium, and we need to be prepared to change along with them. By keeping an eye on current trends, you will be ready to jump on whatever comes next.