The most successful videogame that has yet to be developed
- The gaming industry is set to hit $100B in revenue in 2017
Mobile support, free-to-play, and VR-accessibility are the main features of future games
Asia is a bigger gaming market than North America, generating $51.2 billion in revenue
By Francesco Galletti
This year the gaming industry will hit the $100B goal, becoming one of the largest industries in the world. With half of Americans playing video-games regularly, it is likely that you are a gamer as well. Let us Imagine it is five years from now, and you are the manager of a development team that has just received a large investment from a publishing company. Your task: develop the next big game that will take the world by storm. Let’s take a look at what that game would play like.
To make a successful game, you will have to take a look back at the historic trends of the gaming industry. Since the 1980s, when video-games first emerged as a popular form of entertainment, gaming has been pivoting from being a niche, intensive event to a more casual experience, meaning that today games are more accessible than ever. They require less of your time and often opt for shorter reward sessions. In other words, you see shiny achievements popping up on your screen more often than ever before. Moreover, games have gone from being mostly console-oriented to more portable.
The gaming culture is growing more intertwined with our everyday life, and games have been adapting to that. Just in the past four years, mobile games constituted just 17% of the entire industry’s revenue, now controlling 32% of the revenue today. The success of consoles like the Nintendo Switch show that portability is going to be the key. The last big piece of the puzzle is to find your game’s audience.
Like with any product, you have to look at the current market and pick a specific target. In 2013, Asia made $39.1B generating 42% of the world’s revenue in gaming, while North America generated just 29% of the global gaming revenue, at $21.9B. Today, Asia and North America are still on top, generating 47% and 25% of the game market, respectively. Looking a bit deeper into the numbers, it is clear that the most common consumer is the 35 year-old male living in either America or China, who has a stable job and a small family.
Now that we have assembled all the general pieces, we know where the market is going. However, we still have no idea what the game plays like. Is it a shooter, a survival game, or Candy Crush 2.0? Looking at the recent successful releases, it is difficult to find a common winning strategy. Taking away from the list those games that are a part of a series, popular videogames are in every genre. Darkest Dungeon is a role playing game, Overwatch is an online shooter, FIFA is a sports game, Hearthstone is a card game, and League of Legends is a real-time strategy game. Each one of these games is not any sequel of any specific game, and each one has made a name for themselves. This only proves how uncertain and difficult it is to predict the genre of the next successful game.
However, studying what could be the best genre is still extremely important. Moreover, if you could even come up with a new genre of videogames, you might just hit the jackpot. League of Legends is an online game that has broken every existing record in the world of online gaming. League came out when the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or MOBA for short) genre was just starting out. In 2009 the other major MOBA was Dota, which was still far from being mainstream. League of Legends jumped from 11.5 million monthly active users in 2011, two years after its release, to over 100 million last year. 100 million monthly active users is an incredible number, and League achieved these numbers thanks to Riot Games adapting quickly and iterating often.
Riot Games has been leading the gaming industry’s investment into eSports for the past eight years, and they showed that not only does a game need to be fun to play, but being entertaining to watch and easy to understand are vital components. The past League of Legends World Championship Final had more views than the NBA, NHL, or MLG finals. Taking an existing genre and revolutionizing it by making it easier to grasp, casual enough so people can understand it, and deep enough that professional players can invest time into it, are the three major reasons why I believe Riot Games’ powerhouse has been this successful.
Lastly, there are a few gameplay features that will be market-demanded necessities in the next few years. The game will have to be online, be Virtual Reality-capable or be entirely based around Augmented Reality, free to play, casual with semi hardcore features, and have a mobile portal. Keeping these features in mind will make sure your game will succeed.
The gaming industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world and with our lives getting more and more automated, while we are spending more time than ever indoors, video-games are not going anywhere. The gaming industry is on its way to a future of complete accessibility, allowing its impact on our lives to only grow.
Image Source: Rhett Noonan