Feb 27 2023
From the rise of indie gaming studios to the slowing down of game releases by larger corporations, it’s been quite a year for the gaming industry.
With an estimated value of $365.50bn by the end of 2023, the gaming industry has been smashing Hollywood’s earnings out of the park. It now takes the spot as one of the highest grossing industries and, with its size, comes large-scale trends; with the rise in popularity of VR/AR being a perfect example. For more jaw-dropping statistics, check out our other gaming industry insights blog.
The sheer scale of the gaming industry creates an inviting environment for non-endemic brands looking to promote their products through the large and diverse audiences of gaming influencers. If this is something you feel your brand could get on board with, check out our blog on the biggest UK gaming influencers open to collaboration.
Trends come and go and they certainly shape industries into what they are today. In this blog we will run through the gaming trends that are set to change the face of the gaming industry post-2023.
The past 10 years have been the most tumultuous in the history of gaming.
Pre 2010, gaming trends were generally marked by changes in technology, however, the span from 2010-2019 has been marked by massive shifts in how games are made, played, discussed, challenged and championed.
Indie gaming has fundamentally changed the face of the gaming industry for good. Game releases from big studios now find themselves competing with more innovative games from smaller teams and, oftentimes, find themselves borrowing ideas from them.
Jack Tretton, head of Sony Computer Entertainment America for 8 years, says, “developers can market directly to gamers without limitations from large publishers on creativity and direction”.
Indie game developers are no longer reliant upon brick and mortar stores for shelf space or subjected to payment delays or deductions. Because of this, gamers have more choices than ever on what they choose to play and how much they are willing to pay for it.
While this is undoubtedly one of the gaming trends that has shaped game development going forward, there is a downside. Where larger publishers are focusing on projects in limited genres, it leaves a void in creative-medium-budget projects that would otherwise offer variety and genre expansion.
What was once only eligible for a Black Mirror episode or a thought about the distant future, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have fast become many people’s new norm.
Hugely popular games such as Pokemon Go have raised awareness for AR possibilities and Playstation VR and Oculus Quest (currently the best stand alone unit) have kept VR possibilities in the forefront of people’s minds.
Inventor and entrepreneur Jeri Ellsworth specialises in augmented reality. She believes that “there are still too many friction points for VR that are a barrier to mass adoption”. For many, the headset itself is isolating and scary, making it hard for them to be willing to remove themselves from the real world.
She also sees AR as a way to acclimatise customers to having their world blended between reality and games. Fast forward a decade or two and these players will be more willing to plunge themselves into virtual worlds.
The previous decade of esports went from selling out Vegas ballrooms, to selling out stadiums like Madison Square Gardens and the Staples Centre.
A big factor for esports being one of the most impactful gaming trends of the previous decade is the simple fact that League of Legends was a free-to-play game. It has democratised competitive gaming and fueled interest in the best teams and players.
Travis Gafford is one of the most famous faces in Esports as a podcaster, streamer and journalist who is heavily involved in the League of Legends scene. His take on the rise on esports is that while there is a lot of money swirling around, the economics of the business are still unresolved.
Waning ad revenue and dips in subscriptions have sent top streamers back to the drawing board. Reviving tried-and-true IP is now a go-to tactic for many in hopes of alleviating some of this pressure and roping in devoted fanbases.
Back in October, Netflix announced 55 new additions to their game offerings, with many based on existing Netflix IP. Riot Games saw huge success from their Netflix animated series Arcane, as it won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program; proving that game adaptations are an investment worth exploring.
This gaming trend will continue with more franchise adaptations and films.
The metaverse will continue to expand and begin operating on a more mainstream level. New VR models, such as Meta Quest, will continue to hit the market and Apple will join with their upcoming entry looking to be released in the springtime.
VR adoption by big-name consumer brands reinforce this assumed growth. For example, Nike have released SWOOSH, a collaborative metaverse space where shoe enthusiasts can flex, trade and collect virtual night products. After this, experts predict that we will start to see VR integration within workplaces, with VR headsets for meetings and social gatherings between remote workers.
@nft4noobs NIKE SO SNEAKY 😈 #nike #metaverse #nft ♬ Rocking A Cardigan in Atlanta – lil Shordie Scott
Though competitive gaming will forever remain at its core, esports has grown to include products, merchandise, and an entire content ecosystem driven by top gaming influencers. This means that the esports fandom will extend to those who are fans of certain influencers/streamers and industry-driven products.
Where can we see this already happening?
Complexity gaming launched Complexity Stars, a division made up of athletes and celebrities aiming to expand esports and gaming audiences into the music and pop culture by adding the likes of Mexican soccer legend Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the roster. This is fast becoming one of the most innovative gaming trends and other non-endemic esports organisations are beginning to take a similar approach.
How many times have you opened Netflix or Amazon Prime to find reboots of your favourite films and series from past decades?
Nostalgia sells, but sadly this is making it harder to secure the green light for fresh, original IP. To tackle this, production companies, startup studios and independent creatives are launching new IP on social media.
Animation studios like Invisible Universe and Moonbug Entertainment distribute an impressive lineup of original IP on TikTok and YouTube, creating cost-effective, short-form content via series like Qai Qai and Cocomelon. The great thing about this gaming trend is that it allows for direct audience feedback and a more seamless route to building community and fandom.
@moonbugentertainment Absolutely NOT!! 🏃♂️💨 #arpo #moonbugentertainment #fyp #halloween ♬ original sound – Moonbug Entertainment
2022 saw widespread expansion beyond TikTok, YouTube and Instagram for creators aiming for a greater growth trajectory. Historically, these creators would create their own line of merchandise, but today they’re looking to take the leap into TV, big-box retail and more.
Notable examples include Tinx signing a H&M campaign deal as part of their Coachella collaboration.
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Benny Drama signing a scripted series deal with Amazon.
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And world-famous Mr. Beast turning his YouTube channel into a retail giant, complete with a brick and mortar burger shop, delivery ghost kitchen and a popular line of cookies sold at Walmart.
As seen through notable gaming trends over the past decade, big changes are coming, but 2022 was the year that heralded the initial waves that will eventually shift across the gaming and digital media landscape. An increase in gaming marketing agencies will be noticed so as to accommodate this integration into the social media realm.
Changes in technology will rapidly change how games are made and played, but new consumer behaviours will impact game developer’s route into the industry.
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