Gaming is as culturally impactful as music, television, and movies: of the world’s eight billion human beings, an estimated two billion are frequent gamers. The gaming industry is now projected to be worth a staggering $300 billion by 2025. Thanks to the pandemic-staying-home regulation the gaming industry is even more rocket fueled, with some evolutionary shifts that are being accelerated: cloud gaming, multiplatform (cloud)content, new in-game interactions and the adoption of gaming tools by professionals and enterprises.
In recent years the majority of leading tech companies is revolutionizing the industry with cloud gaming services: Sony’s PlayStation Now, Google’s Stadia, Tencent’s Start are some examples. Users can play a library of videogames on demand, streamed to their phone, television, console, computer, or tablet. Cloud gaming’s SaaS-services are propelled by an invisible billion-dollar arms race for the fastest, safest infrastructure, and consumer nearby data centers. This implies a broad range of challenges: security issues, compression, content dynamics, uninterrupted streaming, legal obstacles, B2B accessibility to exploit server space i.e. Game developers are adapting with the creation of platform neutral content, accessible on every device, already taking the adoption of 5G in consideration. In view of the massive amount of cloud data, machine learning is also finding its way in the back- and front-end: from dynamic/intelligent compression, shifting storylines, recognition of user voices, detection of fraudulent transaction or feedback to game designers on what’s popular in use or even potential bugs.
Another shift in the industry is the social aspect. From individual (console) experiences to social interactions, community building and new interaction models to enjoy with friends or colleagues. The integration of transactions, loyalty rewards and conversation tools have followed and reinforced the trend from solo/console to all-together in the cloud. An example of this evolution are games that are exclusive for Bitcoin-owners and allow them to challenge each other in simple bets, reinforcing the community and pushing Bitcoin payments. These new dynamics facilitate the rise of gamification in professional and educational activities as well, using game elements to drive engagement and better results. Enterprises see better results in terms of training and performance using games to trigger fascination, course interaction or personalized experiences based on individual skills. The growing number of gamification startups is especially noticeable in courses and operations that are perceived as dull such as corporate governance, finance, compliance, software adoption, facility management and education, where AI is helping to provide optimized and personalized trajectories.
Although Virtual Reality is definitely here to stay, the expected breakthrough didn’t happen in 2020, nor is this to be expected in 2021. Tech giants such as Facebook and Sony are still investing huge amounts, resulting each year in more advanced equipment and software. The VR hardware drops in price, is easier to use and has several stunning games to show off, yet VR still struggles with comfort, physical side effects and inconvenience that block VR of becoming mainstream.
This brief dive into gaming shows its lightspeed evolution offering plenty of opportunities for startups: tailored cloud-tools and interfaces, multiplatform content, new types of interaction (chat, control, payments) are just a grasp. Corporates and other organizations are expected to tap even further in gamification to increase the engagement of employees, trainees or clients and need tailored solutions. The new generation of gaming data allows in-game advertising, digital goodies and other interactions that will originate into new business. The real challenge will be to keep up!