Profit shrinks but business carries on as usual
Although revenues were forecast to reach $196 billion by 2022, the real number was $184.4 billion, according to Newzoo, showing a halt of the winning streak games were seeing during the pandemic. This was expected, though. And as Olya Caiujnaia and Kristian Segerstralle said during our chat, gamers will continue to play, and the market will carry on. We’ve identified and overcome challenges before, and it isn’t the first time people declare doom and gloom for our industry.
For those too young to remember; the video game industry experienced a crisis in the 80s, commonly referred to as the “video game crash of 1983-1985.” This was a period of time where the video game industry in North America saw a significant decline in sales and revenues, which led to the closure of many companies. The cause of this crisis was a combination of factors, including market saturation, poor quality games and lack of innovation. Additionally, the market had shifted from Atari’s dominance to the rise of personal computers and home computer gaming. The crisis had a significant impact on the jobs and livelihoods of the industry, and it took several years for a full recovery. With many companies crashing out of business, there came a shift in focus on quality over quantity in the video games industry.
AI is changing the world
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way in games within recent years. Advancements in AI technology have allowed for more realistic and immersive gaming experiences, notably the creation of more complex and challenging enemies.
Developers have been able to use AI to create non-player characters (NPCs) that can think, learn and adapt to the player’s actions, making the game more dynamic and interactive. This has led to the development of more realistic and engaging open-world games, as well as the emergence of new game genres such as battle royale and survival games. AI has also been used to create intelligent game agents that can learn from player behaviour, allowing for more personalized and challenging gameplay. In addition, AI is being used in game development to optimize the game design, testing and debugging. The use of AI in game development is still in the early stages but is expected to play a more prominent role in the industry in the near future, as more advanced algorithms and technologies become more widely available.
A controversial discussion was also held about the use of AI in the game development industry leading to automation. This has been argued by some that it will in fact, open new opportunities and improve the overall quality of games. We have seen this many times in other industries – it will be extremely interesting to see how AI will shift the way we create games.
The gaming industry is maturing, whether we like it or not
Talking to the amazing Sabrina Carmona about her career, challenges and path to success allowed us to see how the gaming industry has matured and changed over the last decade.
One of the most notable ways this is occurring is in the demographic of the player, as the average age of gamers is increasing. The industry is no longer just catering to teenagers and young adults, but rather a wide range of age groups, including older adults and even seniors. This is partly due to the rise of mobile gaming, which has made gaming more accessible to a wider audience. Not to mention that game developers themselves are older and hopefully wiser, impacting the products created.
Another way the industry is maturing is in terms of the content of the games themselves. Games are becoming increasingly more realistic and complex, with more sophisticated storylines and characters. They are also tackling more mature themes, such as violence, sex, and drug addiction. This has led to a greater degree of acceptance of games as a form of art, and a greater recognition of the potential of games as a medium for storytelling and for culture shifting.
Additionally, the industry has shifted to more of a service-based model, with an emphasis on online and streaming services, such as game subscriptions and digital downloads. This has led to a greater emphasis on player engagement and retention, as well as the development of more sophisticated metrics for measuring player engagement and success.
Finally, the industry has also become more socially conscious and responsible, with developers and publishers taking a greater interest in issues such as diversity, representation, and inclusion. Although there is still a long way to go to achieve true inclusion and equality, as our gamers shifted from being majority male to an equal distribution, the games professionals are constantly being questioned to assure the same balance. The industry is far from ideal yet, but we are getting there. This is not only a reflection of the changing cultural norms and values, but also the recognition that a more diverse and inclusive industry will be better for the overall health and growth of the industry.
Nothing replaces live, face-to-face events
Although the digital events organised during the pandemics helped many companies stay afloat - and provided great opportunities for game developers in remote areas and with less resources in reaching international talent and networking with higher calibre professionals - if PGC London showed us anything, it is that we missed and still love live events. It was mental – it felt like the world was there.
Events such as gaming conventions, trade shows, and expos are crucial for the business of games as they provide an opportunity for companies to showcase their latest projects, connect with other industry professionals, and gain valuable market insights. Games events also offer an opportunity for companies to connect with their customers, build brand awareness, and gain valuable feedback on their products. Additionally, as we saw, gaming events can also serve as a platform for the launch of new games and announcements.
At 4Players, we love meeting seasoned professionals, students and indie developers, discussing our industry and technological advances, listening to the challenges of the community and being a catalyst for change in this industry we love so much. We look forward to seeing you all soon!