For gaming industry players, the corona virus pandemic in 2020 also brings blessings behind the disaster. When compared to 2019, the gaming industry in 2020 grew 12%, according to the Super Data report. In January and February 2020, the game industry growth only reached 6%. After the lockdown came into effect in various countries in March 2020, this figure then rose to 14%.
The gaming industry’s revenue is growing rapidly in North America and Europe. Not surprisingly, around 55% of people in the United States admit that they spent their time during the first phase of lockdown playing games. The reasons why Americans play games range from getting rid of boredom or killing time, as an escape from reality, to socializing.
In 2020, the habit of buying games from gamers will also change. So they often buy games digitally. The reason is, the pandemic has caused many local game shops to close. In addition, physical game shipments – in the form of discs and cartridges – were also delayed due to the pandemic. According to Super Data, around 27% of gamers in the US spend more on digital games. In contrast, about 29% of US gamers spend less on physical games.
Free-to-Play Game Industry
The revenue of the digital game industry in 2020 is estimated at US $ 126.5 billion, according to a report from Super Data. Free games aka free-to-play contributed US $ 98.4 billion, around 78%, to the total revenue of the digital game industry last year. Even so, the growth in revenue for free games was only 9%. In comparison, revenue from premium games rose by 28%.
In the free-to-play game segment, mobile still dominates. The proof, revenue from free mobile games reached around US $ 73.8 billion. Meanwhile, free-to-play PC games contributed US $ 22.7 billion and consoles US $ 1.8 billion. From a regional perspective, the free-to-play game segment is growing rapidly in Asia. About 59% of free games revenue comes from this largest continent.
In the list of the 10 most popular free-to-play games, 8 of them are mobile games. Honor of Kings – launched as Arena of Valor globally – became the biggest-grossing free-to-play game last year. Tencent’s game received US $ 2.45 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, the second position is occupied by Peacekeeper Elite, aka PUBG Mobile, with revenues of US $ 2.32 billion. In 2020, League of Legends will be the biggest-grossing non-mobile free game. The game made by Riot Games sits at number six with revenues of US $ 1.75 billion.
In general, mobile games also make a big contribution to the gaming industry. Last year, around 58% of the gaming industry’s total revenue came from the mobile game segment. Not only that, the mobile game industry is still growing. In 2020, the mobile game industry will experience 10% growth from 2019.
Interestingly, mobile gamers in the West and East have different favorite genres. Gamers in North America and Europe prefer to play casual games like Pokemon Go and Candy Crush Saga on mobile platforms. Meanwhile, Asian gamers prefer to play more competitive games, such as Free Fire.
Premium Game Industry
Just like the free-to-play game industry, the premium gaming industry will also increase in 2020. Last year, the premium gaming industry was valued at US $ 24.5 billion, up 28% from the previous year. With revenues of US $ 1.9 billion, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare became the premium game that had the largest revenue last year. Meanwhile, FIFA 20 sits in second place with revenues of US $ 1.08 billion and Grand Theft Auto in third place with US $ 911 million.
Super Data said, one of the things that boosted Modern Warfare’s income was the launch of the battle royale mode in March 2020. After a mode called Warzone was launched, the number of Modern Warfare players increased. The reason is because Warzone can be played for free. Even so, some Warzone players still spend money to buy items. Not only that, some of them also ended up buying Modern Warfare.
Of the 10 premium games with the largest revenue in 2020, 4 of which are sports games. This trend arose because many sports competitions had to be postponed or canceled over the past year. Playing sports games, or watching esports sports matches, is one way for gamers to vent their longing for sports competitions in the real world. Based on data from Super Data, around 36% of gamers admit that they play games because they cannot watch cinemas or sports matches.
In 2020, single-player games are also still in demand. The proof, DOOM Eternal is included in the list of 10 games with the biggest income in 2020. The game sold 3 million units at launch, 3 times more than its predecessor.
Gaming Content Viewership Increases
The pandemic is not only making people play games more and more, but also watching game content. The number of viewers for game content in 2020 will increase by 18% to 1.2 billion people. Party games that can be played by many people, such as Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout and Among Us, have become one of the favorite genres among the gaming content audience.
The number of viewers is directly proportional to the income of the gaming content industry. Along with the increase in the number of viewers in 2020, the total revenue of the gaming content industry will also increase. By 2020, the total revenue of the gaming content industry is estimated to reach US $ 9.3 billion. Twitch controls 22% of total gaming content revenue, while YouTube controls 18%. The remaining 60% is controlled by various other game streaming platforms, such as Facebook Gaming and DouYu and Huya from China.
Even though the audience for gaming content grew over the past year, Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer has had to stop operating. The closure of Mixer means a number of popular streamers – such as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek – are back to stream on Twitch. Meanwhile, in China, the two biggest streaming game platforms, Huya and DouYu, agreed to merge.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Game Industry
Unfortunately, in 2020, VR headset shipments have actually decreased by 15%. This happened due to a pandemic that choked up the supply of VR headsets. In addition, the premium mobile VR segment – including Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream – is also considered dead. Samsung revealed, they will turn off their VR services as of September 2020. While Google admits, they will stop providing updates for Daydream. It didn’t stop there, PlayStation VR sales also fell because no new content was released.
The good news is that total VR headset sales are up 19% thanks to the Oculus Quest 2. In addition, people who already have VR headsets spent more time using the headset in the last year. Meanwhile, VR game revenue will also increase 25% in 2020. The launch of Half-Life Alyx is the main factor that makes VR game revenue increase. The PC game sold 1.9 million unique ones within 6 months of launch.