The gaming industry saw strong growth in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, and this trend continued into 2021 despite the high base effect and the relaxation of coronavirus-related restrictions.
From the business perspective, 2021 can be summed up by two abbreviations, M&A and NFT, which together capture a great deal of what happened over the year.
The value of M&A transactions in 2021 totaled 71.3 billion dollars. Both private transactions and public stock launches increased, and the investment race drew both market leaders (Microsoft, Sony) and smaller teams. The tendency in general was toward consolidation—and that was before Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard and Take-Two acquired Zynga in early January 2022.
|№||Country||Games market revenue, mln USD||Internet penetration (%)||Number of gamers (millions)||Mobile market, mln USD||EF EPI (English Proficiency Index)|
|2||United States of America||40500||90%||191||15100||Native|
|4||South Korea||7550||97%||33||4280||52.9 (Moderate)|
|6||Germany||5870||94%||46.1||1540||61.6 (Very high)|
|19||Thailand||1040||69.5%||34||771||41.9 (Very low)|
|18||Saudi Arabia||972||95.7%||24.2||540||40.4 (Very low)|
|24||Hong Kong||623||92%||5.02||365||54.5 (Moderate)|
|25||Singapore||464||90%||3.96||297||63.5 (Very high)|
|26||United Arab Emirates||385||99%||6.97||246||48 (Low)|
|27||South Africa||307||64%||23.9||274||60.6 (Very high)|
The popularity of NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse within the gaming industry took off around the second half of 2021, helped along by Meta, modern-day investors’ taste for hype, and the success of Axie Infinity. Consequently, hardly a day now goes by without some little-known studio attracting several million dollars to create “the metaverse with horses.” Of course, most of these start-ups will fail. However, we may well be witnessing the birth of a new trend in the industry.
In any case, the traditional gaming industry remains in gratifyingly excellent health. Consoles are smashing sales records, despite issues with semiconductors. 2021 saw a number of high-profile releases for mobile devices, such as Harry Potter: Magic Awakened and Pokémon UNITE, and earlier releases set new records (just look at PUBG).
So, games were, games are—and games will be. It is difficult to pinpoint how the market will change over the next few years, but here are a few predictions:
1. Traditional gaming won’t die. Blockchain pioneers are prophesying the death of traditional premium and F2P models. This won’t happen (at least not in the next decade).
2. NFTs and blockchain will be tested on the market. It’s important to understand that there’s nothing fundamentally new about these technologies. They just provide tools for receiving and validating information. If that proves useful, the gaming industry will simply have more options.
3. Every product with a large user base will become a metaverse. Just like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox are now.
4. Market consolidation will continue. And the state will have monopolization to contend with.
5. The advertising market will get even harder to operate in. There will be more regulations and effectiveness will fall. The tools of performance marketing will need to be combined with PR.
6. It will become more expensive to develop games. There will be fewer major products, but with more support.
7. Games will become an important part of culture. Their cultural, economic, and even political influence will increase.