iGaming is the latest incarnation of the video games industry – an industry which has been constantly evolving since Atari released Pong in 1972 on an arcade machine. Gaming formally came into our homes in 1975 when a console version was released, and we have never looked back. The gaming industry has changed beyond the imaginations of the early developers over the last fifty years. The changes and trends that are now emerging will be another giant-sized step for the gaming industry.
It was estimated that the gaming industry was worth US $180 billion at the start of 2022 and this is forecast to rise to USD $314 billion by 2026. Two and half billion people around the globe currently enjoy gaming and the vast majority of them are over eighteen. This is no longer child’s play. The buzzwords now are cloud gaming, augmented reality, cross-platform, virtual reality, and esports.
This enables everyone, regardless of the device that they are playing on, to take part in the most technologically demanding games as long as they have access to a stable internet connection. Streaming lets the gamer have audio and video transmitted to them without them needing powerful hardware. Storage capacity of the phone and/or PC is irrelevant in this case. Companies like Google and Sony are already developing and providing applications that are not dependent on hardware capabilities. Cloud gaming is considered by experts to be the priority trend in the market as 5G becomes the data transfer standard.
In 2022, online gambling will continue to be an important part of the overall gaming market. It can be assumed that more US states will legalize online casinos so that they can take a share of the profits of the regulated markets. It is predicted that the global market will be worth around US$ 67 billion by 2026. All around the US where online gambling is legal, be that online gaming in NJ or Pennsylvania, the trend will be for the casinos to offer more hyper-real and immersive experiences via the emerging technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality.
This technology is where digital objects seem to appear in real-world settings. Gamers can then interact with these objects on-screen. One of the earliest examples of this was Google animals that you could see close up and real, watching them in your own home. The makers of Pokémon Go also used AR in their gaming interface, allowing gamers to catch imaginary animals in real-life settings. There is something so irresistible about this technology that it can be assumed that the developers will be keen to include it in mobile games wherever they can.
Virtual reality, on the other hand, transports the gamer into world(s) inside the screen, feeling as though they are actually there. This is the immersive experience that is the closest we can come to teleportation. Currently, you need to wear a headset to take advantage of VR, but it is predicted that smaller wearable technologies will be available in the not-too-distant future.
It’s not so long ago that what console you played on dictated what games you could play. This is no longer the case, and, for example, you can play your mates at FIFA no matter what device they own. This creates a more sociable experience, and more and more games will be developed that offer this functionality.
Esports (or competitive gaming) is set to be huge. It has been rather niche up until now but traditional sports tournament organizations are starting to see the audience potential of this emerging sport. It has very recently been announced, for example, that there will be Esports medals at the upcoming Asian Games to be held in China later this year. Meanwhile, The Commonwealth Games Committee has announced a partnership with Global Esports Federation.
Gaming may once have been seen as the reserve of unsociable teenage boys but the trends indicate that this is no longer so, and that it will continue to be a massive and important industry in the years ahead.