Just like all my other peers, I’ve been preparing for finals week – my life has been nothing but work and school. I have been wanting to do one thing and one thing only – to kick back, relax, and get down on some video games. During this time of the year, I always withdraw myself from social activities cause of the chaotic nature of the holidays (and partial stress from school). However lately I’ve been catching myself in a repetitious state of nostalgia that is focusing on my old games, ping-ponging from one game to the next and its making me think to myself “Wow, did I really spent that much time playing Pokemon Red when I was a kid?” and even looking at my absurd amount of /played in World of Warcraft.
To some, our insane amount of hours we’ve dedicated into video games is laughable – but what difference is that to a person who reads a lot or to even someone who enjoys doing arts and crafts? For a lot of us, this is our hobby – our passion and is our outlet to everyday life. We all, casual and hardcore gamers alike, always have sudden, small realizations of just how much time we have spent numbing our minds from our daily lives and tuning into these epic, fictitious stories that embody our imagination like no other.
The Holidays are here and we can’t help that we’re littered with such diverse marketing campaigns for video games; commercials, advertisements, FacebookAds, ect are all being flooded with new up and coming games. We all know that this is a booming industry, but I can’t help but ponder as to how much video games have influenced the millennial generation, and individually – one being myself. Just how powerful are video games and its industry – how powerful are their influence?
Let’s take a look.
The Next Big Entertainment Industry
It is without a doubt that the video game industry is prospering, estimating around $22.41 Billion dollars ($23.5 billion dollars now according to Forbes) – while expecting to be even more as the market for Virtual Reality is going to increase its growth by a phenomenal amount.
The Video game industry has undergone a lot of different changes since the first household console, Atari. Any investor should be putting Video Games at the top of their list as it’s consumerism is growing at an incredibly rapid rate, generating more revenue than the movie and music industry according to NASDAQ,
“It now covers multiple sectors and generates more revenue than the movie and music industry. Last year total revenue in the U.S. eclipsed $23.5 billion, jumping 5% from a year earlier. A big part of that increase is due to a shift away from physical games towards digital software.
In the past 5 years, video game publishers have focused on expanding their direct to consumer channels through robust digital offerings. Meanwhile, the emergence of mobile gaming, eSports and virtual reality are poised to take the industry by storm in the next few years. With the industry growing at a rapid clip, it should be near the top of any investor’s list.”
nasdaq.com, Investing in Video Games: This Industry Pulls In More Revenue Than Movies, Music
Let us look at some statistics given from the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), the United States Association representing companies that publish computer and video games.
I was surprised when I came across these numbers! Four out of Five households have some form of video game device while 155 Million Americans are estimated to play video games, 42% of them playing regularly. That is quite a big market that is growing ever more and shows no stopping while advancements in technology will only improve.
As we can see here too, Video Games are not just for kids. Average Female player? 43 years old. Male? 35 years old. I was expecting more among the older 20’s, early 30’s age but as ESA reported that video games are highly popular among the early middle aged. Let us not forget to mention that the average of years gamers has been playing video games is 13, that’s a pretty significant hold and shows that people who play games are their primary form of entertainment.
One personal theory that I have for this is because of the vast diversity of video games, maybe parents are turning to video games as a way to not only have fun and cheap entertainment in the household, but also a way to bond with their kids. We all know that video games have a knack for bringing each other close, harboring and molding relationships – we see this all the time; ranging from board games to online communities, games just have that “knack” of bringing people together.
The Rise Of Esports
The emergence of Esports (competitive online gaming) has been like a rocket and is considered its very own industry, completely on its own from its parental video game industry. A rough estimate of 205 million people watched or played Esports in 2014, according to the market research firm Newzoo. While Esports have been always a full-fledged sport in Asia, especially in Korea, but North America and Europe are now growing at an extremely rapid rate.
IESF (International E-sports Federation) doesn’t specifically label the United States as a member who recognizes Esports as an actual sport. However, in early 2013 the United States officially recognized League of Legends Esports Tournament League Championship Series as a fully professional sport, which is a turn in the right direction.
But even though Esports isn’t fully recognized as a traditional sport in the United States government, let’s look at some statistics.
Esports Revenue and Statistics
Newzoo reported an estimated 89 Million viewers in the United States for the year of 2014 and is expected to almost double it next year in 2017 – while revenue growth is expected to increase substantially from $194 Million dollars in 2014 to a whopping $465 million dollars in 2017.
Expected growth is expected to triple by 2020, from $1.1 billion dollars to grow into a whopping $3 billion. Esports is becoming its very own industry as more and more people begin to become more affiliated with Esports and their main source of entertainment.
So who is watching?
SuperData’s Digital Games Marketing Intelligence released an infograph with the amount of people who watched or participated in Esports for the year of 2013, which has steadily increased since then. (Many Infographs used today are from 2013 and up for Esports)
In 2013 SuperData estimated 33,800,000 people who participated or watched Esports in the United States alone, roughly being every 1 in 4 gamers.
According to a national study by researching facility, Frank N. Magid Associates says that Esports is a rapidly growing trend in the United States and in Europe – more than 100% in over two years, while already having a big attraction among people in Asia.
“The study showed that fans are into watching competitive video games such as the online strategy games League of Legends and Dota 2, team shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and card-battler Hearthstone. Esports has been a big phenomenon in Asia for years, but only now is starting to really break out in the West, Magid said. ESPN’s new esports effort this week and Activision Blizzard’s New Year’s acquisition of event organizer Major League Gaming show just how important esports is becoming to some of the biggest media companies in the world.”
– venturebeat.com: “Esports viewership is up 100% in the U.S. Over the past two years” January 2016
First Photo: Percentage of gamers who have watched Esports online or attended an event in 2015
Second Photo: How big is Esports on online video sites in 2015?
Image Credits of Frank N. Magid Associates Research
Esports compared against “traditional sports”
But what about traditional sports? How does this all compare with traditional sports since Esports itself isn’t considered a traditional sport by the U.S. Government? Well, it seems that Esports is officially up to par with other huge sports such as Swimming, Ice Hockey, and even American Football.
“The Esports Economy Will Generate At Least $465 Million In 2017”: Image credits of Newzoo.com
“The revenue mix of esports and sports is a key differentiator between the two markets. Esports, which is a product of a digital age, gets 34% of its revenues from online advertising and still relies on the investment of game publishers. This money is indirectly recouped by the publishers through spending on or in their games. Now, esports is quickly evolving into a business of its own. Many sponsors are jumping on board and consumers are contributing to championship prize pools and paying to attend online or real-life events. As the esports market matures, its revenue mix will closer resemble that of traditional sports which saw 57% of revenues come from sponsorships and selling media rights in 2014
Total sports and esports revenues are currently miles apart. At the same time, the $124 billion sports industry is comparable to the total global games market which will reach $107 billion on 2017. Comparing all sports with gaming and esports with individual sports makes a fair comparison.
In terms of fans, there are 2.2 billion people globally who consider themselves to be interested or very interested in sports and of these, 1.6 billion actively participate in at least one sport. This is comparable to the 1.7 billion people that play games. On a global scale, the number of esports enthusiasts compares well to mid-tier traditional sports. Swimming and ice hockey for example have 76 million and 94 million global fans respectively, similar to the 89 million esports enthusiasts. By 2017, the global number of esports fans will come close to that of American football.”
Gaming Influenced Culture & Communities
The emergence of gaming conventions
Video games bring people together and from it, communities are born. This worldwide new media subculture has exponentially increased in popularity over time, evolving hand in hand with internet culture and now plays a significant influence in pop culture. Many people who play video games identify themselves as “gamers” which can mean anything from casual players to ones who are incredibly passionate. Playing online has helped games develop a community around them, making them much more socially appealing.
Video Game culture is the backbone of many rising, popular conventions. PAX West, Seattle boasted a whopping 68,000 people at their conference this year in 2016. These communities are not just massive conventions for this culture, but a place where people with similar interests can meet, discuss, and even establish relationships with one another – basing their friendship off of a single, common ground.
BlizzCon 2016, Cosplayers dress up as their favorite Overwatch heroes, Blizzard Entertainment’s new first-person shooter.
Over the past three-ish years convention culture has boomed globally. Gaming convention, in particular, is rising at an ever rapid rate, with big-name stars holding panels and signing autographs, to smaller conventions growing bigger and better than ever. Offering an array of activity for the fan to unleash their full “obsessive potential”.
Gaming communities are spawning everywhere
From online communities to even meet-up’s at your local internet cafe, (yes they still do exist) gaming communities are sprawling. Many people fail to realize that they’re even part of an online community; part of a guild or team? You’re part of a community. These kinds of communities don’t just exist within MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) but in every single game you play, online or not. While some have “toxic” communities, all have their own highly respected, reputable players and sub-communities.
In a game community, gamers can interact with other gamers. The themes and topics vary greatly depending on the users. However, game communities often have a special topic, for instance, a specific gaming platform. But due to the vast diversity, it can be somewhat difficult to find the perfect one to be a part of.
There are thousands upon thousands of different communities to join
Even here at Elotalk we are an online gaming community and we have a symbiotic relationship with another online gaming community, PRL (Pro Rivaly League). All you have to do is a little bit of looking and everyone can find a community to be a part of! It’s truly an amazing experience to be part of such different, diverse communities.
Example Of Gaming Cults In Modern Society
Now let’s not put “cult” with a negative connotation, these gaming cults are often highly uplifting and have great energy, being very accepting. Massive companies have established a fanbase that is stronger and more invigorating than ever. Niantic, Inc. earlier this year showed just how influential a gaming company can be with their release of Pokemon Go in July. The effect of Pokemon Go had such an extreme fanbase that grabbed the attention of not just young, but the older generation as well. This “Pokemon Go Movement” influenced so many people where people had plenty of meet ups and bonded over a simple game, this company essentially had a cult following them.
Pokemon Go is a simple mobile game where players go out and catch Pokemon in real life settings, encouraging players to go outside and catch their favorite Pokemon and trade with others at specific PokeStops. This hype generated a massive fanbase.
Image Credit of Fortune.com
This just doesn’t end with Pokemon, these are all on a massive scale. There are so many different cults that follow specific games. One, in particular, is the Warcraft franchise from Blizzard Entertainment that started out from a small real-time strategy game, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. This game harbored a massive fanbase and now every year in Anaheim, California Blizzard Entertainment puts on Blizzcon, Blizzard’s very own convention and each year they put on a cosplay contest.
Warcraft inspired cosplayers, image credit of deviantart.net
This Is By No Means a Small Market
Video Games heavily influence pop culture and is an incredibly powerful industry, succeeding the film and music industry while growing at an exponential rate. The gaming industry is a hugely influential factor in western society and is embedding itself on a daily basis. I find it funny that some of the older generation laughs at aspiring students wanting to partake and be part of a hugely booming market.
I, myself want to become part of this industry and I find it funny that some of the older generation laughs at aspiring students (including myself) who are wanting to partake and be part of a hugely booming market. Was this the same experience actors had when the film industry was coming to be? People don’t make games for themselves anymore like how they did back in the 1980’s, this industry markets and directs itself to a specific community – both community and big companies are growing substantially.
The Gaming Industry is such an influential factor in our society – while its revenue is on par with other massive industries such as music & film. For you individuals reading this that are intrigued with becoming a part of this industry, do it. I’ve stated over and over again that this market is growing. For you who are working on becoming a part of it, keep progressing because people like myself want to experience your talent and be a part of what you can give.