At the beginning of the last decade, gaming was still considered a niche market. In the ten years since then, however, gaming has gone mainstream, having woven its way into many other areas of popular culture, from music, TV, entertainment, and sports.
It’s crossed demographic, cultural, and geographical boundaries, and formed the basis of several other lucrative markets and career paths.
Gaming was also a huge catalyst in bringing the digital age to the forefront. And now, at the start of a brand-new decade, gaming as a virtual format is more popular than ever.
The gaming landscape in 2020
There may still be three months left in this year, but it’s safe to say that 2020 has been one of the most impactful years in the gaming industry. At the end of this summer, a total of $29.4 billion worth of online games had been sold in the US alone, representing a 23% increase when compared to summer 2019.
For five consecutive months until August 2020, online game sales in the US had rapidly increased, a trend that has been reflected in other regions too. Mobile gaming apps, for example, rose in popularity by 44% in Japan and 20% in Europe during the same period.
Key new releases like Activision’s Call of Duty: Warzone, a first-person online eSports game that pits gamers against opponents from the global gaming community, also saw rapid growth in terms of active users – rising to 75 million players in August from the 30 million registered in late March.
Another increasingly popular segment of the digital gaming market is iGaming, aka real money gaming. Sports betting, for example, is now more popular than ever thanks to recent developments in the US market. Additionally, social casino games like Slotomania are also increasing in popularity, as gamers can access free slotomania coins without needing to spend any money.
This surge in interest in digital gaming also extends to the sports verticals. Traditional sports may have taken a hit from having to adapt to unexpected situations this year, but the popularity of sports games has reached an all-time high.
Fantasy sports games are expected to grow to $9.34 billion between now and 2024 – a CAGR of 10% – while renowned franchises FIFA (EA Sports) and NBA2K20 (2K Games) have pulled in new 7 million new players and seen an 82% increase in active gamers during the spring/summer period, respectively.
It’s not just video games that have experienced such exponential growth, this year. Competitive gaming and gaming content also surged in popularity. In March 2020, the Twitch streaming platform achieved a maximum viewership of over 2,000,000 users in one day.
Within just a month, that figure had increased by as much as 70%, with daily views topping 4,300,000. It increased even further still when viewership reached a brand-new daily record of 6,059,527.
Why is digital gaming so popular?
Digital methods of communication, such as online and mobile streaming have now overtaken more traditional channels and became the most popular way to consume entertainment in 2020. Adults in North America spend more time a day on connected devices – playing games and streaming content – than they do watching television or going to the movies. The key reasons? Accessibility, choice, and affordability,
The new digital entertainment markets are saturated with content streaming platforms, cloud gaming platforms, and mobile apps – instead of being limited to a certain number of channels or services, digital consumers have the entire world wide web at their fingertips.
Digital content is cheaper too. Whereas just five years ago gamers would need to spend $60 to buy a physical edition of a console game, in 2020 they can spend a fraction of that (or not spend anything at all) to access brand new games instantly.
There’s no longer any need to buy a separate console for playing games either; games can be played on desktops and even low-end smartphones. Cloud gaming platforms free up valuable device space by hosting and storing games in the ‘cloud’. Meanwhile, affordable data and broadband packages make it easier than ever to get online and stay connected, even on the go.
Industry insiders even report that gaming consoles could soon be rendered obsolete by the sheer progress that digital gaming is making, with mobile being touted as the future of the industry and leisure time. Having already surpassed $60 billion in 2019, this powerful segment is on track to be worth over $100 billion by the end of next year.