Nowadays it has become very fashionable and popular to judge and describe us – millennials – as if we were a homogeneous group in which everyone has the exact same world view, adheres to the same opinions and leads the same lifestyle. Recently a video even went viral in which the speaker in only 15 minutes is able to reduce a whole generation to an outcome of failed parenting. Discussing and studying different generations can be very interesting but one must be careful not to forget that a generation is comprised of a diverse group of people for whom the only thing they have truly in common is the times they were born in. However, it is also undeniable that the times we are born in and their characteristics can considerably influence us, albeit – and this crucial – with different outcomes. And it is one of such influences that I will focus on in this article – gaming.
Most of us have grown up with access to computers and, later on, the Internet. And this gave us a new type of entertainment, one in which you can immerse yourself in a completely different, digital world. Whether you played Pokémon, The Sims, Mario, World of Warcraft, FIFA, Skyrim or just had to listen to your friends talk about it, games probably have had a powerful impact on your childhood. For example, with more and more research on the consequences of gaming on our brains, it seems that gaming can have positive effects (other than a lot of fun) such as better learning abilities or better memory and reasoning. Of course, this area of research is still relatively young and we need to observe new developments very closely, but gaming probably isn’t as bad as our parents tried to make us believe.
What about the gaming industry? How big is it? It is difficult to answers these questions because discerning game development from technological development in general is not an easy task and because, with the ever-growing possibilities that the Internet provides, big corporations are no longer the only players. In fact, the sheer amount of games released every day would warrant writing a book on the topic, a book that would become obsolete a month later. Therefore, instead of overflowing you with data and information, I will summarise only some of the players.
In 2016, the global revenues in the gaming industry were estimated at $91 billion, of which $35.8 billion goes to PC gaming and $6.6 billion to consoles. However, mobile games were responsible for $40.6 billion, meaning that they are the biggest single contributor to the global revenues and have almost surpassed PC and console games combined. This is a sign of a revolution that is taking place right now – gaming industry is no longer based solely on the traditional video games and games like Pokémon Go, whether short-lived or not, are becoming the main drivers in the business.
When talking about the gaming industry, it is impossible to ignore the existence of consoles and, when talking about consoles, 3 companies immediately come to mind: Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. XBox, Game Boy, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation; you’ve probably heard those names before. These used to be the biggest contributors to gaming in general, while computer games, at least in the beginning, remained on the fringes of the industry. Now, the roles seem to have reversed with PC gaming revenues almost 6 times as big as consoles. This is in part due to the fact that the consoles often cannot keep up with the rate of technological advancement. Nowadays what was a novelty at the beginning of the year is old news 12 months later and this applies to computers and games. However, when you get a console, you do not expect to buy a new every year to make sure that graphics and game engines are always at the best available level. And here lies the advantage of your PC or laptop – you probably have one already and get a new one every now and then.
As mentioned before, there are many players in the gaming industry, but several come to mind, particularly the traditional ones such as EA Games, Activision Blizzard or Ubisoft. If you’re interested in their market data, you can look for yourself. Here, I will talk more about a platform that has revolutionised gaming. Steam is the biggest digital platform where you can buy games, a sort of digital gaming market. In 2016, their total revenues were at $3.5 billion, which, when compared with the numbers mentioned above, means that they control about 10% of the global PC gaming market. Steam’s main advantage is the fact that you can buy games at any time and anywhere as long as you have internet access. This means, gamers are no longer constrained by distance to the nearest shop or by closing hours. Furthermore, the amount of titles availables surpasses anything you can find in any physical shop – 13.000! From big hits to low-budget indie games of every genre, you will probably find something that suits your tastes.
Finally, the question that many gamers have asked themselves is whether you can actually make money by playing games. Well, you can and the esports industry generated almost $1 billion in revenues. If you want more details on how to start your career as a professional player, check out Hải Đăng Vũ’s article about business and profitability of e-sports.
So what is this all about? Well, with the continuing digitalisation of our world and a greater access to technology and the Internet, the gaming industry will continue to grow exponentially. Especially with new, revolutionary technologies such as VR, games of today might soon be put on the same shelf as Monopoly or Scrabble. It is exciting to see how fast things are changing right in front of us – think about how amazing you thought graphics was 10 years ago and how now you can’t look at decade-old games anymore. Esports are already starting to resemble big sports championships and very soon professional gaming might be a very profitable profession. And hey, since it makes your brain better, why not do it?