The Decade in Games

Me @ the main floor

This article touches a talk I attended at Amsterdam White Nights 2020 conference. The talk is about statistics of the video games market in the past decade.

Numbers like these are often not available for starters in the industry because they require connections to acquire or a lot of money to get.
I Understand there are business reasons why numbers like these are often behind paywalls, but that way it is hard to get a picture of the opportunities in the game industry.

White Nights is a 2 days b2b event for game development related business to meet and do business. For more details on the White Nights conference and what it is (and not), I wrote this blog post.

The talk, ‘The decade in games’, is given by Oleg from the website Game World Observer and is all about trends and data in the last 10 years. There is a lot of data in this talk, almost all of is comes from Newzoo. Use the data to your advantage, but know that Newzoo has a lot more data and insights to share with you and they even have an Indi subscription coming up soon. And fav Game World Observer in your browser, if you didn’t have it already.

The total game market now is 49% for mobile, 30% console en 20% PC. From 2016 on China surpassed the US in having the biggest gaming economy. Google-play vs App-store market share is now 75% vs 25%, or 66% vs 33% if you look at spending. And if you look at distribution channels in general, last year AAA games like Borderlands 3 are doing 70% of their sales digital now.
Don’t be fooled by the looks of the PC market share: despite its low market share this sector is still the driving force behind most of the innovation taking place.

Interesting are the numbers of the top 10 sold games. It gives an insight in what the current market cap is for the biggest and baddest companies out there, so you know how relatively well you are doing as a small studio with smaller numbers.
Game units sold in the past 10 years ordered by the highest numbers, show the no 1 to no 10 doing from 180 million to 27 million units sold. Top 10 gross mobile games do 7 to 2 billion, top 10 downloads go from 2.5 billion to 300 million.

This was for sure the decade of gaming on mobile. The mobile platform did go trough a lot of changes: midcore, hyper casual, premium games, multiplayer, console-level graphics, AR games, synchronous multiplayer, hardcore shooters.
And there was the monetization evolution on mobile: from paid to freemium to free-to-play with IAP, going to subscription (VIP) and free-to-play with ads and now ending up on platform based subscription (on mobile platforms like google introduced recently). One thing to note: premium games are struggling as a model.

Digital distribution is the next subject. This decade has brought us a couple new marketplaces. The storefronts versus the first-party platforms. Steam, GoG, Humble Bundle, Itch.io and Epic as storefronts, accessible by studios from all sizes. The Microsoft Store, Origin, UPlay, Rockstar and Battle.net are the platforms with more stringent rules. All the platforms introduced subscriptions models in the last 10 years: UPlay (UPlay plus), Origin (access) and Microsoft (Game passes).

The speaker also touches on the Steam marketplace evolution as Steam being the market leader. And because of the much talked about Indiepocalypse, caused by Steam it’s policies. Steam is still busy transforming, with the latest addition being Steam Labs. Over the years the Steam platform has grown from 1000 titles in 2010 to 30000 titles now. But change is on the rise: the amount of new games added in 2019 is declining. A research ‘No more robots’ did when comparing 2018 sales on Steam with 2019 sales: games are selling for less now. The average price has gone down from 12 to 10, average sales down from 5000 to 1200, and average revenue from 30k to 16k.
However, the market for games that do over 1mln dollars is growing too. More people are failing, more are succeeding.

Another thing to mention: new genres that emerged this decade. The slides show nice pics from the games in their new genres. Looter shooter, Souls-like, Walking simulator, Survival, CCGS (collectable card games), Battle Royale, Clicker games, Auto battlers, (and MOBA –> added after a question from the audience).

Consoles this decade had 2 deliveries: the 7th generation and the 8th generation saw daylight. Currently PS4 is leading with 106mln units sold, Nintendo switch follow with 50mln and Xbox one has 41mln units sold. (So you know what the market shares are when you have the luxury to choose between those big platform/publishers)

And at last a quick review of cloud gaming. Playstation started it all with Playstation Now, Xbox is trying to catch up with project xCloud probably coupled to the Xbox game pass. Google (and other parties) are delivering cloud gaming. We are seeing more cross device sold games than ever. Are we going from hardware exclusive to ecosystem exclusive?

So, that’s the recap of the talk. I hope you can use it to make better informed decisions!

Published by Erik_de_Roos

Erik de Roos is a Freelance software developer.

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