Here in the 21st century, the gaming industry has undergone quite an evolution. Nowadays, it stands as one of the most innovative of all the Big Tech sectors and sets an incredibly high bar for the use of digital technologies. Gaming is everywhere these days, from the gamification now present in the business, healthcare, and education fields to mainstream entertainment. Now worth over $334 billion, its global popularity has far surpassed its “niche activity” reputation of the analog era.
While there have been several key developments that have helped to drive the success of the industry to where it is today — not least of which includes the emergence of the internet at the turn of the century — in this article, we’ll focus on mobile gaming, iGaming and cloud gaming.
In case you haven’t already noticed, mobile gaming in 2023 is unrecognizable from what it once was at the start of the century. Driven by the widespread adoption of smartphones and digital app stores, as well as increased consumer demand for high-quality gaming experiences on the go, the mobile segment now accounts for over 50% of the gaming industry’s total revenues, year after year.
Mobile has dramatically altered the monetization model underpinning the gaming market. The introduction of in-app purchases brought about the freemium model, which allowed app developers to offer games for free while monetizing virtual goods and game enhancements. This still remains the most dominant revenue stream.
In terms of the games that are now available on mobile, the choice is almost overwhelming. Casual and hypercasual games still remain favorites, particularly thanks to their simple mechanics and accessibility, which makes them appealing to a broad demographic. Meanwhile, augmented reality games like Pokémon Go have set off a trend for merging the real world with virtual elements, and there’s even a mobile eSports sector.
The iGaming segment, or real money gaming, is a multifaceted market that encompasses a wide array of activities, including virtual casino games, poker, sports betting, and more. It’s also one of the fastest growing gaming markets, having become a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right — according to the latest estimates, iGaming is on track to be worth $131.90 billion by 2027. This considerable sum has been boosted by significant movements in the market, such as the expansion of online casino and poker gaming into the US following the Supreme Court’s reversal of PASPA.
One of the key aspects of iGaming is its emphasis on responsible gambling, with operators implementing measures like self-exclusion tools and deposit limits to promote safe gaming practices. Regulatory bodies govern the industry to ensure fair play and player protection, while licensed platforms are periodically inspected by independent auditors to ensure even greater levels of fairness and security.
With such a global reach, iGaming platforms like the FanDuel online casino are well-populated with digital versions of traditional casino games like roulette, slots, and blackjack, many of which are enhanced with immersive graphics and live dealer interactions. Sports betting platforms can provide up-to-the-minute betting market data, allowing users to wager on various organized events both before they begin and during live play. Meanwhile, the online poker segment is distinguished by global tournaments and numerous variants of the classic card game.
When the cloud gaming segment emerged a few years ago, it represented a fundamental shift in how games are played. This was the dawn of an unprecedented era of accessibility in gaming, allowing players to enjoy high-quality gaming experiences without the need for high-end consoles or gaming rigs.
While the sector is still in its infancy — and isn’t without its issues — its long-term impact isn’t to be dismissed. By processing games on cloud servers and streaming content directly to players’ devices, cloud gaming has ushered in the age of cross-platform play. Instead of being tied to a single platform, such as the Sony PlayStation, with cloud gaming services, gamers can not only play the same title on PC, console, and mobile, but they can also play with and against fellow gamers in the same title on different devices.