The trends of the gaming market from ByOwls
The game development industry is very dynamic and advanced. Knowing the main novelties and trends that will shape new tendencies in the industry is a very important task for Ukrainian developers to have a competitive advantage and stay up-to-date with all the relevant news. Ukrainian game development studio ByOwls analyzed global trends for the next 2 years and identified those which, in their professional opinion, will be the main drivers of development and progress in the industry.
Increasing demand for mobile games
One of the most important trends is the growing demand for mobile games. This trend has been developing for years and shows no signs of slowing down. With the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets, mobile apps are becoming more accessible to a wider audience. As a result, developers are focusing more on creating mobile apps with engaging storylines adapted to the unique features of mobile devices.
One reason for the growth of mobile apps is the convenience they offer. Gamers can play their favorite games on the go without requiring expensive equipment or consoles. In addition, mobile games are often cheaper than console games, or even free-to-play, making them an accessible option for casual users.
In recent years, mobile games have become more complex and sophisticated. Developers are using cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality and machine learning to create apps that are even more immersive. For example, augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go and Ingress have been incredibly successful, with millions of users worldwide, while Fortnite and Genshin Impact continue to grow their audience and generate billions in revenue for developers.
Virtual reality has been a trendy term in the gaming industry for many years, but in the next 5 years, VR could become the fastest-growing market. With the release of cheaper VR headsets, applications for them have become more accessible to the masses. This exciting technology allows gamers to immerse themselves in a fantasy world, creating a unique and unparalleled experience.
VR has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry, providing players with an entirely new level of immersion and interactivity. Thanks to this technology, gamers can explore new worlds, interact with objects and characters in new ways, and experience games in previously impossible ways.
The development of VR attracts new players to the industry. Many people who were previously uninterested in games are now trying VR, thanks to the unique experience and innovative technology. By the way, our company ByOwls recently developed a multiplayer VR game called Rival Rides, released in early access on the Steam and Oculus platforms on January 24th of this year.
Cross-platform games are becoming increasingly popular, and it is expected that this trend will continue to grow. This format allows players to play with friends on different devices, whether it’s a console, PC, or mobile device, regardless of where they are and what devices they use.
This technology is particularly important for multiplayer games, where a large player base is an integral part of the game’s success. By allowing users to play together regardless of the platform they use, developers can create a player base and maintain community activity for a longer period of time.
According to Unity’s 2021 report, cross-platform games have become incredibly popular: 87% of players who play multiplayer applications played them last year. In addition, 43% of them are looking for more cross-platform options. Even Nintendo, which traditionally goes its own way, entered the mobile game market, receiving nearly .8 billion in global revenue since September 2017. Considering the growing costs of development and economic uncertainty for consumers, it makes sense for developers to release their products on multiple platforms to recoup their investments. With the constant improvement of mobile computing power and the development of cloud computing, studios should consider targeting multiple platforms with each new release.
Cloud services for the game
Cloud gaming services are another trend that is expected to grow in 2023. With them, you can play games without the need to buy expensive hardware. Instead, the gameplay is streamed directly to the player’s device, ensuring a seamless process. This trend is gaining momentum as more and more companies invest in cloud technology and more users seek accessible gaming options.
Cloud services have several advantages. Firstly, they are accessible as gamers do not need to buy expensive hardware to play. Secondly, they are simpler as users can play on any device with an internet connection. In addition, clouds offer better scalability as developers can easily add more servers to serve a larger number of players.
More AAA and AA game publishers will transition their main franchises to a service model
The gaming industry is experiencing a shift towards service models for both AAA and AA publishers. Live service games will dominate the market. This trend is driven by players’ expectations for ongoing support and updates, as well as publishers’ need to offset rising development costs. This is reflected in the top 10 games of 2022, with 9 of them not even launched this year. To meet these expectations, developers are moving towards live-action strategies and adding content to existing games rather than creating sequels or remakes. For example, IO Interactive changed the Hitman franchise to World of Assassination.
Large publishers allocate dedicated teams to support live service apps, while other developers work on the next app in the franchise. To offset the burden of developing live services, publishers use user-generated content. These projects prioritize engagement over cost and encourage players to log in weekly or daily. As a result, the trend toward live service games is gaining momentum and is expected to continue in the coming years.
Rise of indie games
The trend of indie games created by independent developers is a well-known phenomenon in the gaming industry. However, the emergence of new and improved platforms has greatly facilitated the realization of their ideas. One such platform is Roblox, which allows for free game development and distribution. With the convenient features of Roblox Studio, even those without coding experience can create their own applications and share them. As a result, the platform has created a large user base of 202 million monthly active users. Epic Games and their popular game Fortnite will follow the same path – they are launching the Unreal Editor for Fortnite and a new version of the Creator Economy.
Other platforms have also contributed to the growth of independent video games. For example, Steam has facilitated the distribution of many similar products. Popular games like Among Us and Stardew Valley are a direct result of this trend.
Hybrid monetization strategies
The PC and console gaming markets will adopt hybrid monetization strategies that include in-game advertising. This will provide additional marketing platforms for third parties and cheaper subscriptions for players who don’t mind watching ads.
The use of multiple monetization methods has become a standard model for success in mobile apps, especially after the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) was phased out, and relying solely on ads as a source of revenue became more difficult. PC and console developers recognized the potential of a hybrid approach to monetization and applied it by offering in-game subscriptions and microtransactions. Although some games may have high initial costs, players are looking for cheaper options, especially in the current economic climate. Mixed advertising solutions, such as those offered by Anzu, allow companies to place non-intrusive ads and also provide product development.
Cooperative play is becoming a popular social experience for gamers
Thanks to cool (but underground) products like It Takes Two, OverCooked, and A Way Out, and new modes in powerful franchises like Call of Duty, cooperative play will be revived in 2023.
With big AAA-level projects like Redfall, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, and Minecraft Legends, cooperative games are ready to return to the mainstream and provide users with a fresh alternative to multiplayer online first-person shooters. For brands, this provides an interesting opportunity to create targeted advertising campaigns aimed specifically at couples, families, or groups of friends who play together in one place. This trend could lead to the development of innovative hyper-personalized real-time activations designed to enhance the gaming experience for players.
The gaming industry is constantly evolving. The year 2023 will bring many exciting trends to this market. Game developers will continue to rely on a combination of technologies, including game engines, VR and AR, mobile development, cloud gaming, and cross-platform solutions.
It is expected that these technologies will help developers create more engaging products and provide users with more opportunities for how and where they can play their favorite games.