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With more than half of the world’s population playing video and mobile games in 2016 (and will continue to do so in 2017), the state of the industry has never been so fruitful. Moreover, the forthcoming is also full of promising predictions and ideas. Today, the gaming industry is as interesting as it ever was with all its ups and downs, hope and disappointment, risks and fears. This area has been able to attract billions of dollars in investment, new technologies, and become one of the leaders with the most perspective and profitable market.
On the other hand, there are some changes that the industry has undergone over the years. For instance, in today's society, the average age of gamers is 30 years old and more than one-half of them play mobile games. Nowadays, the gaming industry requires new revolutionary technologies that may fundamentally change the industry and give players a new level of user experience.
For that reason, there are a lot of new trends and tendencies that define the gaming industry’s growth in 2016. Program-Ace experts collected the most notable directions which are chosen as the main courses of development in the gaming industry.
Although virtual reality (along with augmented and mixed reality) is not just used for games and is accepted by a broad range of areas, the gaming industry is still the main consumer of VR solutions. 2016 is the year of breakthroughs in virtual reality technologies. VR feels extremely real in 2016. With the new Oculus Rift and HTC Vive alongside Samsung Gear VR and the release of PlayStation VR scheduled for October, players have an almost unlimited selection of both mobile and high-end games to play. Industry giants like Insomniac Games, Crytek, Ubisoft and Epic Games prepare new gaming projects based on VR or AR technology.
The future promises to show us more impressive and extraordinary demonstrations of the practical application of VR/AR technology in video games. We can expect the video and mobile games to present a more immersive and persuasive user experience for players.
China has proved to be one of three main countries that have the greatest gaming market revenue alongside the USA and Japan. However, it still remains very specific and extremely segmented. Game distribution in the Chinese market requires familiarity with its particularities and features. To achieve success in the market, a game development company should have partner relationships with at least ten app stores or do business with a huge Chinese publisher, for example, Kebam.
Statistics state that China has almost 285 million of gamers out of a billion mobile users, and 90% of them prefer smartphones and tablets over a PC for game play. It is now one of the biggest distribution markets since the Chinese are in love with addictive games. And 2016 is going to be a breath of fresh air for development companies and single developers who create games for Android devices. According to the announcement from Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, Google Play is expected to be re-launched and localized for the market in China by attracting more profit, more Western investors and a wider audience for both development companies and players.
2016 continues to adopt smartphones and tablets as the main devices for game production. According to the prediction made by the industry experts at Statista.com, by 2017, the number of smartphones sold worldwide will reach 1.6 billion annually. Also, this year the mobile game market revenue will experience at least 20% growth. The market share expansion of smartphone and tablet games is predicted to be close to one-third.
The numbers are caused by the appearance of big screen gaming solutions such as Apple and Android TV. These hi-tech devices turn tablets and smartphones into mini consoles. All of the biggest vendors in gaming have already decided on their plans for expanding the mobile presence in the gaming market.
Since wearables became so popular, this technological niche deserves a separate paragraph. According to Statista.com, the global market for wearable technology is expected to grow to 3 billion dollars during 2016. Experts also forecast that by 2018, over 250 million wearable devices will be in use worldwide. So, it seems like wearable technology is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. Moreover, it is going to double its position in the market and win the hearts of more and more users. The great diversity of wearables and their evolution has created a highly prospective and competitive market. The share of smartwatches and wristbands is still the biggest one on the market since their commodity turnover covers almost 87% of all shipments. In addition, the considerable innovation of wearable technology such as the adaptation of 3D touch, VR solutions, and voice control can bring a lot of talented developers and provide us with more exciting games.
Cloud computing has been around for almost three decades, preparing the world for the introduction of Cloud gaming. It is an umbrella term used to describe a special type of online game distribution that implies direct playability across a variety of devices based on the file or video streaming. Users can play it without installing the actual game on your device. Basically, it means that the game instantly runs on a user's device without preliminary downloading of all content, no matter if it is a portable device such as smartphone or tablet or a more powerful device such as a gaming console or PC. In fact, the initial downloading involves only a small part of the game transferred from the Cloud to the end-user's device to allow a player access to the game very quickly. The remaining content will be download to the device while playing if it is Cloud gaming based on file streaming. The other possible option is when game content is not stored on the hard drive but on the server cluster. Therefore, players can usually use a less powerful device than required to handle the game since the server takes care of all the performance operations that, for the most part, are occurring on the user's computer.
Both small and large businesses have shown interest in Cloud gaming and have developed Cloud-based games. For instance, NVIDIA released the unique GRID Cloud gaming technology; Sony transformed its famous platform into a Cloud gaming platform and named it PlayStation Now; G-cluster was revolutionary on the market with its Cloud game console (although recently has filed for bankruptcy), and several others. Today, most Cloud gaming platforms are proprietary, but the introduction of Cloud-based services and the global adaptation of a freemium model resulted in a growing number of open-source ones. Small development studios no longer need to worry about purchasing expensive SDKs to develop Cloud games. Today, they can utilize pre-developed platforms instead of creating their own and concentrate on innovations and design. For the reasons stated above, the trend of creating open-source Cloud games is strengthening its position in 2016.
In the past, updates were treated as simple bug-fixing procedures. However, no one does that anymore. Updates have long ceased to be a post-release review; it now contains a bunch of improvements in addition to all bug fixes. Updates should be released with enviable frequency approximately once every two or three weeks, even if you do not have much to release. Even the tiniest improvements are essential, if we are talking about audience loyalty and a brand's credibility.
The majority of respected vendors work under the "game-as-a-service" model, and this helps companies to enhance engagement and provide a comprehensive user experience. These vendors appreciate the feedback left by the community of players and improve the game according to the advice offered.
Three years ago, more than 80% of games posted on the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store were created by a limited number of development companies - approximately fifty of them. However, with the introduction of game development environments such as Unity and Unreal Engine that have been released for mass consumption, the market situation has changed. Indie development companies gained access to these tools and thus, have the capability and opportunity to develop and deploy more games across a variety of platforms at a more reasonable price. Nowadays, it is much easier for independent game vendors to enter the market with a new original adventure since most industry giants acquire their profit from investing in popular franchises. That trend has been reinforced this year and is only going to strengthen its position to make the life of indie developers even much easier.
Everything changes and improves. In the last few years, mobile applications stepped into the market and established themselves by occupying one of the biggest shares. In accordance with statistical data by the end of this year, the share of mobile gaming apps will reach 17% in worldwide gaming revenue and will continue to grow. However, the constant advancement of new technologies and devices as well as complex technical solutions creates fierce competition among game development companies. For that reason, to improve the market performance and gain more profit, IT companies have to review their current promotion and development strategies. Altogether, 2016 has already had a wonderful beginning and still has the opportunity to offer a lot of new, exciting discoveries and technological innovations.