When you hear the word gaming, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it consoles? Like Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch? Perhaps PC games? Or for those more in the know, maybe it’s Esports, with popular games such as Fortnite, Fifa, and League of Legends.
While that’s not a bad start, the truth is this list barely scratches the surface.
The industry – set to be worth in the region of $200.8bn by 2023 – is experimenting with cutting-edge technology and creating immersive experiences that go far beyond a traditional console. You could even say there’s a cultural shift underway.
According to Omnicom Media Group UK, the future of gaming…
“…heralds the next stage of the internet, as it blends into The Metaverse. If gaming is the caterpillar, The Metaverse will be the butterfly.” Phil Rowley, Head of Futures
In this 15 minute video our own Allie Whitefleet sits down with Phil Rowley, Head of Futures at OMG Futures to talk about how all of this impacts business.
But what does this mean in practice? What’s the technology that’s shaping this change? What’s driving such a huge jump in gaming? And, what we’re really interested in, what does this mean for brands?
Table of Content
Let’s start with the structure and foundation making all of this possible.
Now, while you might be yearning for us to jump into exciting new advances in Augmented Reality (AR) technology or the nuances of the Metaverse, you have to understand that none of this would be possible without the right infrastructure.
Thanks to cloud technology, people can play video games through the internet by streaming directly from data centres spread across the globe, all without needing to own a piece of hardware (aka a traditional games console).
This shift drastically reduces the price of entry, making gaming far more accessible to people across the world. This is one of the reasons we are seeing a large increase in the numbers of players from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-PAC – the fastest-growing markets within the gaming industry.
How does cloud gaming work?
In most cases, players must purchase a monthly or yearly subscription to access their games from cloud service providers such as Steam or Battle.net.
Once purchased, players simply open the downloaded app on their chosen device, select their game, and begin playing immediately thanks to everything running on remote servers.
Cloud gaming services generally update their hardware on an ongoing basis, allowing players to access the latest releases and content immediately. Game save data is also stored in the cloud. Not only does this mean players don’t need to worry about losing game progress, but they can easily switch between devices and have immediate access to the same files.
Some of the further advantages of cloud gaming for players include:
- Access to their games from anywhere, at any time.
- Ability to buy or rent games on-demand.
- Avoid regularly upgrading their hardware or purchasing physical copies of new games.
- Enjoy unique features such as migrating across client computers while gaming, observe/participate in online tournaments, and share replays with friends.
For game developers, some of the benefits include:
- A reduction in porting and testing costs.
- Higher profits by cutting out the middlemen (retailers).
- Access to a far higher number of potential gamers.
- Protection from piracy – the software is never downloaded to client computers.
How AR is Propelling Gaming
Yes… in the last few years VR (virtual reality) has revolutionised the gaming community with its incredible immersive experiences and promises of much more to come. But VR is far from the only technology that’s transforming the gaming space and how we knew it. AR (augmented reality) is a powerhouse in itself, and we better stay tuned in to understand the opportunities it affords.
AR is all about combining virtual elements with the physical world – “the real world”. Because AR is available to anyone with a smartphone, so far AR is the most democratised immersive experience technology the world has seen yet. You don’t have to think beyond the interactive filters we use on social media to see its reach!
But what does this have to do with gaming? AR is making interactive mini-games with friends possible and bringing droves of new “gamers” to the table. Have you ever played a quick trivia or guessing game with an instagram filter? Or done one of snapchat’s many challenges with friends?
Future of Mobile Gaming
I’m gonna date myself… do you remember when you would spend hours playing snake? Yepp, that game that came preinstalled on your mobile phone where a “snake” would slide around the screen looking for “food” as it grew bigger and bigger. This is the type of game that opened the door to what we’re living today… not being tied to a stationary computer or gaming console to be able to play a digital game.
Today, and in big part due to the pandemic, mobile gaming generates 57% of worldwide video gaming revenue, according to Statista. From the palm of our hand, wherever we are with an internet connection, we can interact and play with any other user, anywhere else in the world. Alongside social media and ecommerce, mobile gaming is among the top three growing global trends.
We can’t talk about mobile gaming without bringing Hyper-casual gaming into the fold. Games for the masses. Whether you’d define yourself this way or not, it’s highly likely that you too are a gamer! Or you’ve never played Candy Crush on the train home? Wordle before work?? If you’ve played these or any other simple online games (app based or not!) you’re a hyper-casual gamer.
These are simple games, oftentimes accessed via mobile apps or websites. Sometimes they have a social component (words with friends, anybody?), but that’s not a requirement. They’re often addictive. And they can even be educational or good for you! Countless studies cite the benefits of mind and memory games for reducing the risks and effects of Alzheimer’s.
And when it comes to branding and marketing opportunities… this is quite possible the ripest opportunity right now. The sheer number of players alone, and diversity of demographics that engage, make it worth your attention.
You might be surprised to learn that there are video game competitions happening out there all the time that are capable of filling a stadium full of fans as big as those for the World Cup. The most recent League of Legends World Championship reached 44 million
concurrent viewers during the final. Out of this world, right??
Esports, or electronic sports, includes all of the organised competitions, tournaments, and leagues for different video games (Call of Duty, FIFA, Super Smash Brothers, to name a few). Esports, like “physical world” sports, have championships, professional players, teams, and you guessed it… sponsors, advertising deals, and massive branding opportunities.
Considering the staggering active audience numbers, it’s no wonder esports has become a magnet for sponsors and one of today’s most promising marketing channels.
Last and most certainly not least, the metaverse. The technology that’s slated to radically change the way we interact (with each other, the world, with media…). Ever since Zuckerberg made his public announcement to rename his parent company, it seems the Metaverse has broken the zeitgeist and bubbled up into dinner conversations everywhere.
Of course, Meta isn’t the only company that’s preparing for this impending shift in digital. Market leaders like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Epic Games are hard at work building out their capabilities. The levels and types of interactions consumers will be able to have with brands in the metaverse is uncharted territory, but the possibilities are endless. Just as with previous growth spurts in this space, the metaverse is on pace to spread like wildfire, thanks to the enabling technologies we’ve already covered like cloud, increased internet coverage, and access to affordable portable devices.
Why Should Your Business Care?
What does any of this have to do with you and your (current or future!) business? Gaming sector growth is EXPLODING with no slowdown in sight. It’s estimated that in 2023 we’ll see it reach 3 billion people. Not only are the numbers attractive in and of themselves for the whole spectrum of advertising opportunities, but also the medium and how users are interacting makes this particularly interesting for companies. Remember that these users are actively engaged in the games, with the eyeballs “glued” to what’s happening there. What’s more, the medium allows for an incredible amount of creativity and diversity in ad type, branding initiative, marketing opportunities. As with any emerging space, we’re seeing so many innovative ways brands are inserting themselves into the gaming space and interacting with gamers. Do you want some examples? In this class with Phil Rowley, Head of Futures at OMG Futures we analyse the shift, the opportunity it represents, and talk about some recent examples of how companies are entering this space.
Every day, people around the world are sliding more and more into the ‘gaming’ space, some without even knowing it. As we advance toward an evermore connected and digital society, and get closer and closer to the ability to interact in the digital world exactly as we do in the physical one, the question for companies of whether to get involved becomes unavoidable. It’s just a matter of time before people are using these platforms to socialise, learn, exercise, explore, consume experiences, and work. Not getting involved would be like having ignored the opportunity that TV or the internet represented in terms of reaching people where they are.