Twenty or so years ago nobody would’ve been able to predict quite how successful and important the gaming industry would be in the 21st century. Video games may have been part of popular culture since the 1980s, but the sheer speed at which the industry has developed since the turn of the century has been eyewatering. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry that, in an interesting turn of events, is now setting pop culture trends.
Regardless of whether or not gaming continues to develop at the breakneck speed that it has these past two decades, the underlying trends that have shaped the industry are now infiltrating more traditional media and entertainment. The evolution of gaming is now playing a major role in shaping the business, consumer, and tech trends of the future.
So, what are the hottest gaming trends to have emerged so far this century?
Competitive video gaming is probably one of the most impactful gaming trends of the 21st century. Even just a decade ago eSports was a mere dream in the eye of gaming fans across the globe. Within just a few short years, the sector has managed to sustain an impressive and continuous global growth and is quickly on its way to becoming one of gaming’s most profitable markets.
Having already generated revenues of over $1 billion and a total global audience that outperforms that of popular American league sports combined, eSports is now shaping up to be a major rival to more traditional sports franchises and sporting entertainment.
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Tournaments like Dota2 and Fortnite have the pulling power to reach a massive global audience, rewarding players brave and skilled enough to compete with multi-million dollar prizes. There’s even been an eSports event held at the 2018 winter Olympics, with industry experts predicting it could become a medal event by the 2024 summer games.
iGaming may have begun the century as a niche gaming segment, but within two decades it has become one of the most dominant gaming industries and is expected to be worth over $100 billion within the next few years. The industry includes everything from digital versions of casino classics like online roulette and online poker to sports betting and attracts players ranging from amateurs and hobbyists to professional gamers.
Like top-level eSports gamers, iGaming professionals have been able to take advantage of lucrative career opportunities purely based on their skill levels and talent in their particular games. As an online gaming industry, it appeals to a wide demographic and is instantly accessible – two attributes that are a must for technology and entertainment trends.
The effects of the growing popularity of iGaming can even be seen further afield, as social casino games have started cropping up on social media platforms and in mobile app stores. Even gaming titans like SEGA have jumped onboard the social casino gaming trend; Sega Slots was released in 2018 as a mobile gaming app and featured familiar characters like Sonic the Hedgehog in a fruit-machine themed game that was playable by all ages.
3. Gaming on the Go
At the beginning of the century, the choice of mobile games available was, quite frankly, laughable. Fast forward 21 years and mobile is now the world’s most popular gaming medium. More and more people each year are jumping on board the gaming on the going trend, ensuring that the segment contributes to over 45% of total gaming industry revenues.
Mobile gaming has developed at an astonishing rate, not just in terms of audience numbers (over 2.4 billion people at the end of 2020), but also in terms of technological advances.
The popularity of mobile as a gaming medium has ensured the rapid development of new technology like AR (Augmented Reality) spearheaded by games like Pokemon Go. We’re also seeing major smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung pushing for innovation with each new release, as they attempt to harness the power of mobile gaming.