The online gaming industry is constantly evolving, welcoming millions of new players every year. In 2021, the industry witnessed a great growth spurt as people turned to all kinds of online games for entertainment and social contact. That includes everything from real money pokies to multiplayer online battle arena games and others.
Besides growing the global fan base, online games are still generating billions of dollars every year. According to statistics, the global online global market reached over $58 billion in revenue, registering a 14% growth from 2020. The average revenue per player also increased from $20.54 in 2020 to around $21.60.
Top Online Gaming Trends in 2021
- Cloud-based Gaming
In 2021, this blossoming trend helped shape the online gaming industry as more people were looking for games to play without having to download them first. Cloud gaming has witnessed a major momentum on PCs and consoles over the last few years, with the rapid growth of 5G networks and edge computing making it a great opportunity for mobile gaming.
Cloud gaming creates the potential to develop Netflix-like applications that can aggregate online games instead of only video content. Already, there are several subscription-based cloud gaming services, including Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, and Xbox Game Pass.
- Social Gaming
While social gaming started before the pandemic, it truly exploded during the lockdown restrictions last year. This trend continued growing in 2021, with more people spending time playing online games that allow them to socialize while playing or watching the gameplay.
- Esports on the Rise
The rise of esports is arguably the biggest trend that has shaped the market in 2021. The trend came out in 2020, when the lockdown restrictions effectively shut down traditional sports for several months, leading to a huge hunger for a professional competition. Thankfully, esports was able to fill that need, witnessing a 69% growth in 2020. That growth extended in 2021, even after the return of live sports.
The rise of esports is also influencing the online gaming industry by influencing the type of games that developers are making. For instance, game manufacturers are continually launching esports compatible titles like the multiplayer online battle arena, hoping to ride the wave.
- Virtual Reality Gaming
For years, the players have been hearing about virtual reality gaming, but not many developers have delivered such games. Fortunately, thanks to Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset launched in 2019, virtual reality is finally on the mainstream.
With virtual reality gear becoming more and more affordable in 2021, various developers are launching VR titles on the market. Online casinos are also trying to incorporate the technology in their offering, allowing them to create fully immersive gameplay and interaction like in a traditional casino but with the convenience of playing on the internet.
Streaming Platforms Attract Huge Audiences with Gaming Celebrities Gaining Popularity
In the last year, the online gaming market has continued to expand at a great pace. With this growth, online streaming platforms for gamers have gained considerable traction. As the industry continues gaining traction, the demand for play-through videos and gaming tutorials has witnessed a significant surge.
In 2021, several upcoming, professional, and celebrity gamers increasingly used streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch where large audiences turned up to watch their favorite games and streamers. This online streaming trend is expected to give the global online market a huge boost in the next few years.
As online gamers continue finding value in platforms like Twitch and YouTube for their monetary and engagement benefits, online streaming platforms will continue gaming popularity in 2022. These platforms draw large audiences and you can expect to see more players using them.
Digital Sales Continue Rising During the Pandemic
The advent of new technologies like cloud gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality played a significant role in elevating the online gaming market over the last year. These technologies along with the rise of competitive gaming significantly boosted digital sales in 2021, while pulling in huge audiences and boosting sponsorship deals.
Key Players in the Online Gaming Market
Some of the key players in the online gaming market include Gree, Peak Games, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, GungHo Online, Party Digital Entertainment, Bwin, King Digital Entertainment, Sega, Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, Tencent, Ubisoft, Sony Corp, Zynga, Valve, Konami and others.
When it comes to geographical segmentation, North America dominated the online gaming market in terms of revenue in 2021. This market domination is thanks to the high rate of internet penetration in the region, which led to the growth of online games throughout the year.
According to recent reports, North America boasts of the highest rate of internet penetration (88%). However, Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing market for online games, with over 2.5 billion people using the internet. That has contributed to the rise of online games in the region, with China leading the lot.