Is The Future Of Gaming Online?

There are over 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, but in the gaming industry on the cusp of a huge shift? That is the question that is puzzling many industry experts who are waiting to see what impact platforms like Google Stadia and Apple Arcade will have on gaming.

These new cloud-based gaming services will allow players to access a huge selection of AAA gaming titles on various devices for the cost of a monthly subscription fee.

Google Stadia – the platform expected to have the biggest impact on gaming – is hotly anticipated, not because of its extensive gaming library, but because of its console-free nature. Players will be able to enjoy games on any Google-enabled device so long as they have a compatible controller.

Google Stadia

Will the release of this gaming platform signal the end of single-player gaming? Are we moving into an era in which everyone games online? Read on to find out.

Gaming has been around for more than half a century, and for the most part, has been enjoyed offline by players across the globe. However, in the noughties improving internet speeds opened the industry up to online gaming.

Grand Theft Auto has arguably been the most popular single-player gaming title of the past two decades. However, in 2013, GTA V was released with an option for online play. After addressing some early teething problems, GTA online became immensely popular, helping to make the game the highest-grossing entertainment product of all-time.

Anecdotally that tells us that online gaming is incredibly popular, and perhaps even more so than offline gaming. The following industry statistics show however that the popularity of online and offline gaming is very much split, with the latter perhaps edging the battle at the moment.

– The gaming market is worth $78.61 billion a year, with that figure expected to rise to over $90 billion in 2020

– PC gaming is the most popular gaming market accounting for $28.04 billion of overall worldwide sales.

– 47% of PC gamers prefer to play online than offline. – 26% of console owners spend between 61%-80% of their gaming time playing online.

– Free to play PC game Dungeon Fighter Online generated a revenue of $1.6 billion in 2017

As can be seen from some of these statistics, offline gaming is still more popular than online gaming…just. PC gamers, who make up a large part of the gaming audience still seem more reliant on offline gaming than online.

However, the rise of titles such as Dungeon Fighter seems to be changing that somewhat. The free to play online game has been a huge hit with PC players and has inspired games developers to produce similar online games for PC.

The habits of PC gamers has for long been a great indicator of the current state of play of the gaming industry. However, there are two growing gaming markets that are having a bigger impact on the sector…

Gambling

You could be forgiven for thinking that gambling has nothing to do with the gaming industry. However, poker, blackjack, and bingo are now recognized by most industry experts as a bona fide part of the gaming market.

The similarities between gambling and gaming are clear to see, indeed there are console gaming titles that encompass characteristics of both. So, how is gambling affecting the gaming industry’s online vs offline debate?

Well, online gambling is absolutely massive and continues to grow year on year. In the UK for example, the online sector brings in annual revenues of £5 billion and is driven mainly by slots, sports betting, and bingo sites UK focussed.

Currently, the online sector is worth a third of the total gambling revenues in the UK. However, that figure includes revenues from national lotteries, etc. Within the next five years though, online gaming is predicted to account for just over half of the gambling industry’s total revenues.

Mobile

For the first time ever, female gamers actually outnumber male gamers, accounting for 52% of global players. That figure is largely being driven by mobile gaming, which females completely dominate (63% of mobile gamers are women.)

In recent years competitive mobile gaming has become more and more popular. Mobile players seem content to play online against other players or to enjoy their gaming experience with friends online.

In the coming years, mobile gaming is expected to continue growing, and with an overwhelming tendency to be enjoyed online, this sub-sector will have a massive impact on the overall gaming industry.

Will Google Stadia Have a Huge Impact On Gaming?

At the time of writing, there are no official figures available about Google’s financial investments into Stadia. However there are rumors, and whilst they can’t always be trusted, the sustained number of rumors do seem to suggest that Google has invested a tonne of money into this new platform.

The tech giants have made a habit out of being ahead of the curve and making profits where in places that no one had previously considered. The fact that Google does seem to have invested heavily in Stadia shows their faith in the project.

Google has already stated that they hope Stadia will allow them to become the biggest name in gaming. The service will not be marketed at one specific type of player, instead, it will aim to cater to everyone.

There will be AAA titles for traditional console gamers as well as mobile style games for the newer breed of players. Stadia will also focus heavily on online gaming as a way to attract new players and engage with them. It is impossible to say if Google Stadia will take the gaming industry by storm – it could be a flop after all. However, it’s safe to say that its release will only hasten the shift from offline gaming to online gaming.

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Graeme Sandlin
A theologian of the odd. I love all things tech, especially if there's a sci-fi element to it. You'll find something special I've created every day... and not just on the internet.