People have been playing video games for decades and, over the years, it has gone through several major changes. In the ’70s, people were playing video games in arcades, with Pong and Space Invaders being two of the most popular and successful titles. Then, in 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) came around and forever altered how people access video games.
Today, people play video games with video game consoles, handheld video game consoles, smartphones/tablets, and personal computers. Some use additional devices, such as virtual reality headsets, for a more immersive experience.
The video game industry has indeed come a long way, but it still has a long way to go.
The Video Game Industry and the Pandemic
When the pandemic happened, most industries suffered financial losses. The video game industry is not one of them.
As people stay at home, video games are in high demand. Nintendo’s current console, the Switch went out of stock in a few major markets across the world because of the sudden increase in interest. It led to the Japanese video game company almost double its profit for the first three fiscal quarters of 2020. Between April and December, the company’s profit rose to 376.6 billion yen ($3.6 billion) in the past year, up from 196 billion yen ($1.80 billion) the year prior.
Sony, another video game console maker, also saw overwhelming demand. The PlayStation 5, which was released late last year, sold out immediately and people were unable to get units anywhere for weeks. Until now, restocks of the new consoles immediately disappear from store shelves.
Even if there is hope that normal life will return soon, the outlook for the industry remains bright. It is a great time to be working in the video game industry right now. Because of the high interest among consumers, companies are looking for talents to work on new products to release into the market. Some tap into game developer outsourcing to help turn concepts into playable video games.
Accelerated Adoption of Cloud-Based Video Games
The public’s greater interest in video games may fast-track the penetration of a new way to deliver video games to users.
Traditionally, for a user to access a video game, they must purchase it and install it into their chosen console. But, the cloud is revolutionizing gaming.
It is not a new concept, but it has been ramping up in the past couple of years. Major tech companies, some of which are not directly involved in video games, have also expressed interest in cloud gaming. Unlike using a disc or downloading an app, the video game is stored in data centers full of servers somewhere very far away. The advantage is, instead of relying on the limited capacity of the hardware, video games are streamed similar to YouTube and Netflix except the content reacts to the user’s input.
Google last year made Stadia, its cloud gaming service, free. The platform initially was only accessible to players by paying a $130-entry fee. By making the cloud gaming service free, Google is helping people to stay at home and slow the spread of COVID-19. The company is also hoping to get a head-start in the cloud gaming market over rivals Microsoft, Nvidia, and Amazon.
Access to Video Game Subscription
Consumers can now access video games without paying for individual titles. The previous years have seen Apple and Microsoft launch their own video game subscription services, respectively called Arcade and Game Pass.
Microsoft has already reported success with the subscription model. The company revealed in a report that playtime increased by up to 40 percent. Users also branched out of the usual genre they played by 30 percent.
Subscriptions offer cheaper and almost unlimited access to content which, now that the pandemic has caused the economy to plunge, still can provide entertainment to people who may not have a steady source of income. Even users who may not have sophisticated hardware can access games without a problem.
A subscription also benefits creators who may not have the budget to market their work. It opens a path for monetization.
The future will continue to see innovation in the video game industry. Expect more technology that will enhance the gaming experience to be introduced to the market in the coming years. Right now, virtual reality devices are still fairly new in gaming and are not yet widely adopted by consumers.
Developers are also trying the addition of voice control and advanced touch screens for an easier and better gaming experience.
People will continue to play video games and, as a result, the industry will continue evolving to cater to the changing market.