Gaming Trends To Watch In 2021
The gaming industry is reshaping the way that we interact with the world, and it constantly inspires innovation by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
The State of Online Gaming 2020 research report found that 38 percent of gamers would like to become professionals, as long as they can support themselves; watching gamers play online is more popular than watching sports for 18 to 25 year olds; and on average, gamers spend 6 hours and 20 minutes each week playing games. Mobile devices also remain the primary gaming device, download speed still matters, and online gaming continues to be popular.
What should gamers expect next year? We’ll take you through all the gaming trends to watch in 2021.
NEXT GENERATION GAMING CONSOLES
Microsoft and Sony will both be releasing next-generation gaming consoles toward the end of 2020. The Xbox Series X console will be available on November 10, and the PlayStation 5 console comes out two days later on November 12. This has been a long time coming, since both companies released their current-generation machines 7 years ago.
THE RISE OF 5G
Eighty-seven percent of gamers find the process of downloading games to be frustrating, with the length of time it takes being the top issue. Expert gamers and aspiring professionals have the most frustration with download speed, with half of them noting it, according to the State of Online Gaming 2020. Fast performance is also cited as the most important aspect of game play across all ages.
“Mobile games have always been limited by latency, currently around 10 milliseconds on 4G tech,” according to Treasure Data Blog. “That might not seem like a lot to a layperson, but it’s an eternity when it comes to competitive gaming. 5G will drop latency down to less than 1 millisecond, opening the door for new possibilities.”
Treasure Data Blog says that when global 5G adoption goes mainstream around 2021, mobile gaming will show even more remarkable growth.
Mobile phones remain the primary gaming device, followed by computers, gaming consoles and tablets, according to the State of Online Gaming 2020. In the last 10 years, more than 2.2 billion people used their smartphones to play games.
“As chipsets continue to advance we’re seeing mobile devices that are arguably on par with a PlayStation 3,” according to VentureBeat. “With people replacing their phones around every 1.5 years, compared to replacing consoles every five or six years, we’re going to get mobile devices that are arguably as powerful as PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. There will be billions of AR-enabled devices as standard in iOS and Android through ARKit and ARCore.”
Since 2017, the market share of mobile gaming revenue has continually increased, and research shows that it can grow by 59 percent before the end of 2021, according to “13 Current Gaming Trends: 2020/2021 Data, Statistics & Predictions” for CompareCamp.
SPECTATORS OVERTAKING GAMERS
Gaming has become mainstream entertainment as a spectator sport. The State of Online Gaming 2020 report found that most 18 to 25 year olds would rather watch gamers play video games than watch sports.
There’s an esports shift that’s about to take place, with the number of spectators overtaking the number of gamers around 2021. Gamer growth is projected at around 9 percent, while streaming audience growth is projected at 90 percent, according to VentureBeat.
“When audience growth overtakes player growth, that fundamentally flips the business model on its head,” says Erik Archer Smith, marketing director of data at Treasure Data. “That’s going to fundamentally change how developers have to approach their game, where you need to think about producing games with the audience in mind, versus just the gamer in mind.”
In 2017, esports had a total revenue of $655 million. In 2021, that number is expected to be closer to $1.6 billion.
While the idea behind cloud gaming or Gaming-as-a-Service isn’t something new, experts believe that a successful solution can revolutionize the gaming industry. In the future, we’re expected to see PCs and consoles start to adopt the idea behind cloud gaming.
“Basically, you will be able to play any game you like through a live stream on your device,” according to COIN-OP TV. “So, this means that you could have a low-performance PC but still will be able to play the latest games since they will run on high-performance servers across the world. Also, there will be no waiting for updates since all games will already be updated.”
In 2018, the value of the cloud gaming market worldwide was $1 million, according to CompareCamp. Industry insiders predict that by 2025, it’ll grow to $8 million.
MILLENNIALS BECOMING THE PRIME GAMING DEMOGRAPHIC
The gaming industry is expanding, and millennials are the driving force, according to “How millennials are expanding the gaming industry” for The Charleston Chronicle. In fact, 71 percent of millennial gamers watch gaming content on YouTube and Twitch, according to Nielsen.com.
The average age of gamers is 34 years old, with women around 36 years old and men around 32, according to VentureBeat. As of 2016, millennials became the largest workforce generation, and by 2021, they’ll be 34 years old on average.
“Peak millennial is going to hit peak purchasing power and also going to hit peak gamer,” says Erik Archer Smith in the VentureBeat article. “When all of these demographic trends coalesce around 2021/2022, gaming culture goes mainstream undeniably. If we think it’s big now, there’s going to a holy-shit moment.”
AR & VR
“Augmented Reality (AR) is an experience where virtual objects are superimposed onto the real-world environment via smartphones, tablets, heads-up displays, or AR glasses,” according to “The Important Difference Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality” for Forbes. “Virtual Reality (VR) is a fully immersive experience where a user leaves the real-world environment behind to enter a fully digital environment via VR headsets.”
AR and VR gaming have both made leaps and bounds since their inception, redefining the term “immersive gaming experience,” according to Treasure Data Blog. In 2016, we saw the release of Sony’s Playstation VR and Nintendo’s popular AR mobile game, Pokémon GO.
COIN-OP TV expects that the latest virtual reality headsets will be able to render 3D graphics that look like real life.
VR and AR grossed $1.8 billion and $1 billion, respectively, in 2016. In 2021, those numbers are projected to be $19 billion and $20.3 billion.
VIDEO GAMES AS A SERIOUS ART FORM
“Vintage video games now command the sort of cultural currency and influence once reserved for classic films, perhaps the clearest sign that video games are now an essential form of entertainment,” according to Business Insider.
The Tribeca Film Festival will be adding video games to its official starting lineup in 2021.
“Games have proven to be one of the most sophisticated storytelling vehicles today – not only with narrative but also with incredible artistic mastery, the creation of highly immersive worlds, and providing meaningful connections to communities all over the world,” says Casey Baltes, vice-president of Tribeca Games, in an IndieWire article.
This move by the Tribeca Film Festival further acknowledges video games as a serious art form.