This year in gaming: 2023 Trends, triumphs, and challenges

Explore the dynamic shifts and exciting trends in the 2023 gaming industry, from groundbreaking game launches to innovative AI and VR advancements.

The gaming industry has always been dynamic and ever-evolving, and 2023 is no exception. The Global Games Market Report of Newzoo offers a comprehensive look into the gaming world’s current state and future trends. Here are some key takeaways from the free version of the report:

Player expansion: The rise to 3.38 billion 

By the end of 2023, the number of players worldwide is projected to reach 3.38 billion, marking a +6.3% year-on-year growth. As gaming becomes more mainstream and younger generations grow up with it, the rise in player numbers is expected across all platforms.

Revenue breakdown: Dominance of mobile gaming 

The global games market is set to generate $187.7 billion in 2023, a +2.6% growth year-on-year. Mobile gaming takes the lion’s share of these revenues, but the console segment is not far behind, especially after underperforming in 2022 due to various delays.

Experimenting with monetization 

The global games market has largely transitioned from physical to digital delivery methods. This shift is most evident in mobile gaming, which is entirely digital but is also increasingly prevalent in PC and console gaming. Digitalization has facilitated innovative monetization methods such as DLC, microtransactions, in-game content, and multi-game subscriptions, which are predominantly digital by nature.

  • PC and console: Decline in premium revenues with a rise in microtransactions and live-service models. 
  • Mobile: Dominated by free-to-play models; however, facing challenges due to new privacy policies and user acquisition strategies.
  • Future growth: The highest growth is expected in in-game subscriptions and DLC, with console and PC segments offsetting mobile privacy challenges. Influencers are playing a key role in game marketing and revenue diversification.

Awaited game launches

2023 has been a year of long-awaited game launches, with many previously delayed titles now hitting the market. Major titles like “Hogwarts Legacy,” “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” and “Final Fantasy XVI” launched. Additionally, the second half of the year saw releases like “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2” and “Starfield.” The console segment, recovering from 2022’s underperformance, is expected to generate $56.1 billion, driven by new releases and stabilized supply-demand dynamics for consoles. This segment is projected to grow by +7.4% year-on-year.

Gaming in mainstream culture: Transmedia highlights 

Gaming’s integration into mainstream culture and using transmedia strategies are increasingly prominent. The report highlights how gaming is firmly at the heart of the entertainment industry, with its impact extending beyond player numbers and industry revenue. Transmedia strategies have demonstrated the power of games as a business, and this trend is accelerating. Examples like “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and HBO’s “The Last of Us” are notable for their performance and contribution to the engagement of the games they’re based on. These transmedia experiments showcase how game-based movies and TV shows perform well and contribute to the engagement of the games they originate from. This bond between games and other media forms is expected to continue growing, further solidifying gaming’s role in mainstream culture.

Generative AI in game development

The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2022 marked a significant shift in the gaming industry. Generative AI, which uses neural networks to generate original content, is becoming increasingly popular for speeding up content creation processes in game development.

This technology is being used for a range of purposes, from creating art assets more quickly to generating unique voices for characters. It’s enabling developers to produce content at a faster pace and with more variety, potentially revolutionizing how game environments, narratives, and characters are created. Despite its potential, generative AI also brings challenges. There are concerns about copyright issues, as AI-generated content might accidentally infringe on existing intellectual property. Additionally, there’s a debate around the impact of AI on jobs in the creative sectors of the gaming industry.

Gaming and the creator economy: A new marketing era 

Influencers are becoming integral to the gaming market, with platforms like Twitch changing how games are marketed. The intersection of gaming, user-generated content (UGC), and the creator economy is becoming more evident.

There’s a trend towards influencer-led studios, where content creators are directly involved in game development. This approach leverages the creators’ deep understanding of what engages players and their communities. Influencers are also driving the trend towards games that focus on UGC. These games allow players to create and share their own content, fostering a more engaged and active community. This trend is not only about engagement but also about empowering players to be part of the game’s creative process. The creator economy is opening new revenue streams for influencers and content creators. This shift is influencing how games are designed, with a focus on features that facilitate content creation, sharing, and community building.

Virtual Reality: The next frontier in gaming 

Virtual reality (VR) gaming, which gained significant popularity during the lockdowns, offered players immersive and vibrant virtual experiences. However, post-lockdown, VR gaming has faced challenges, with a noticeable decrease in both time and money spent by players on VR games and content. Despite these challenges, the future of VR, including augmented reality (AR), looks promising, with expectations of more widespread adoption.

The growth in VR is not just limited to software but also includes hardware, particularly standalone VR headsets. Major tech companies like Apple and Meta are driving this growth. Apple’s entry into the VR ecosystem, focusing more on computing and AR than VR, contrasts with Meta’s approach, which continues to emphasize games as a unique value proposition for VR.

Console gaming genres: The reign of adventure 

The adventure genre is driving trends on the console front, accounting for 17.1% of console revenues in 2023, with titles like Hogwarts Legacy and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leading the way.

In conclusion, the Global Games Market Report 2023 provides a comprehensive look into the gaming industry’s current and future state. Understanding these trends is crucial for anyone involved in or passionate about gaming. Read more now by downloading the free report.

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