While most of the entertainment industry took a large hit during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the gaming industry is the exception. As people began to look to home entertainment, more than ever before, it is no surprise the pandemic made 2020 a record gaming year. Global video game revenue neared $180 billion at the end of 2020, which is more than the global film industry and North American sports combined in 2019. Most of this revenue came from digital game sales: from full digital game purchases doubling physical game sales, to the largest percent of revenue from in-game spending alone.
While experts in the gaming industry do not anticipate a full replication in the level of growth seen in 2020, they also do not predict much of a decline in revenue or engagement, especially after the recent release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series XI. There are currently 2.8 billion video gamers worldwide.
For starters, the pandemic is not over. Many gaming researchers do not expect a deceleration to begin until at least 2022. Billions of people are waiting on the Covid-19 vaccine and that will likely extend to the end of 2021. According to a recent survey, over 60% of American adults play video games daily. People have found both a habit and hobby in gaming and, for some, even an income. Researchers do not foresee those going away quickly, even after the pandemic ends.
Secondly, console sales will continue as the PlayStation 4 and X-box One are still in high-demand. It will take time for both Sony and Microsoft to completely supply and satisfy the high demand for the next-gen consoles, released mid-pandemic. Nintendo also jumped back into the picture with console sales as they saw a 200% increase in profits during 2020, due to the Switch, and has no signs of slowing down in 2021. Game sales will also continue as there are still 73 video games already set to be released in 2021 across PC, console, and mobile gaming platforms, with another nearly 200 still to be announced.
While virtual reality gaming is still only responsible for a small fraction of the gaming revenue seen last year, VR is seeing steady growth after the release of the Oculus Quest 2, late last year. Just in pre-orders, the Quest 2 has seen five times the initial sales of the original headset, the Quest. With over 200 games now available between the two headsets, and over 20 to be released this year, researchers expect VR gaming to continue to grow and expand.
A more unforeseen factor in growth is the use of gaming as a platform and “meta-verse” for artists hosting virtual events. With game developers expanding their ability to mimic “real-life” experiences, such as movie premiers or music performances, experts predict this will be one of the most note-worthy trends in the upcoming years. This concept has proven to be successful through performances by Travis Scott in Fortnite and Lil Nas X in Roblox. Fortnite is continuing their in-game concert series this weekend, incorporating the game Rocket League, with performances by DJ and Producer, Kaskade. With plans to host more virtual concerts and events, from games such as Roblox, Minecraft, and even Animal Crossing, researchers and developers believe this will not only help increase the in-game spending but that there is high potential in bringing non-gamers into the industry.
While we may be sitting at home a little longer until this pandemic ends, the gaming industry has proven to be a leading factor in entertainment, providing a social network and platform for all ages, and connecting friends, fans, and strangers alike. Even if there is a small decline when we go back to normal, the gaming industry has shown they are here to stay.