It seems like everyone is a gamer now. The Entertainment Software Association recently released a study showing that 58 percent of Americans play video games, with 51 percent of U.S. households having a dedicated console. Online gaming has witnessed explosive growth, and several other trends have followed in its wake.
The rise in online gaming coincides with the rise in accessibility to broadband internet. A recent report by the Pew Industry Internet Project reveals that the percentage of American homes with broadband access has risen from 3 percent to 70 percent over the last 13 years. With more and more gamers gaining access to high-speed internet, the population of online players is sure to continue to expand and grow.
This accessibility means that the average age of gamers might not be what you think. The ESA 2012 report indicates that the average age of a gamer is 30 years old, and that only 32 percent of the population is under 18. Gamers have grown up, and the industry has evolved to offer titles that appeal to a wide range of ages and demographics. We can expect to see more titles that appeal to an older crowd in the coming years.
The New Mobile
While console and PC gamers are regularly drawn to the next blockbuster title, mobile gamers are a different crowd. While the free-to-play model dominated the online gaming industry with such apps as the Hidden Object titles from iWin, the premium mobile game has slowly evolved to grab a share of the market from handheld systems. A recent report by NewZoo found that mobile games made up 18 percent of the global games market in 2013—a 35 percent year on year increase from 2012. The traction mobile games gained over 2013 will likely continue through 2014. New gamers may choose to make their tablets and mobile devices their primary game-devices over purchasing a next-gen console with a four to five-hundred dollar price tag.
More blockbuster games are embracing the capability of mobile devices to enhance the console title’s gameplay. Both “Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag” and “Grand Theft Auto V” feature second-screen companion apps that are usable as interactive maps, or allow players to interact with their character’s world while on the go. Second screen technology utilizing mobile devices is a trend to watch.
Social Gaming Evolved
The next biggest trend to watch in 2014 is the emergence of streaming games socially. Both the XBOX One and the Playstation 4 feature special “sharing” software that allows gamers to link their gameplay to social networking services like Twitch, Facebook, and more, according to Gamespot. Both next-gen consoles’ streaming technology is intuitive and easy-to-use, allowing gamers to record, edit and post all from the comfort of the couch. Now everyone will be able to show off their skills, record “Let’s Play” Youtube videos, or create detailed walk-throughs for games they love without needing expert computer skills. As the technology surrounding consoles evolves, the social gaming network will continue to expand and grow.