The Future of Gaming – Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Change the Industry for Good?
If you got your hands on an Xbox Series X or a PlayStation 5 this holiday season, you’re about to become really popular with your gamer friends over the next six months or so. You can’t talk about the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gaming business without starting with the unprecedented shortage of next-gen consoles in late 2020.
But in the age of coronavirus, nothing should surprise you, especially when it comes to online gaming.
We would like to breathe easier if coronavirus wasn’t camping the spawn like a cheap-shot artist, picking off noobs who haven’t learned to watch their back and wear a mask.
For the most part, businesses large and small are struggling to overcome a seriously OP power punch to the economy’s gut. But what about the gaming industry?
The bottom-line: gaming is thriving during the pandemic, even though a “chip shortage” caused supply chain problems for next-gen consoles, which should’ve ushered in a new golden age this year.
How is gaming changing the world?
Well, really, the answer depends on who you ask. Is gaming changing the world, or is the world (pandemic) changing gaming?
If you take a look at the numbers, the situation looks promising for everyone.
Twitch took the gaming world by storm a while back, but the general public hasn’t adopted the social platform the same way it embraced Facebook and Twitter over a decade ago.
You’d think that with more people beached in their own home, gaming, and making new friends around the world, major franchises would be the most popular channels on Twitch, but they’re not!
Over the last seven days, at the time of this writing, the Just Chatting app accounted for 13 percent of all activity on Twitch. To give you a point of reference, keep in mind that Fortnite and League of Legends combined for about 8 percent of all activity during the same period.
And you thought you spent too much time on Twitch! What about the exploding chat community where users spend their entire day online?
If Fort and LoL can’t compete with an ordinary chatting app, what does that say about Twitch’s growing and evolving user base?
The simple answer is that new Twitch users aren’t necessarily there to live stream their favorite first-person shooter or spectate a skilled Overwatch player to “borrow” tips and tricks from the pros.
They’re there for a more elementary but emotionally necessary reason: making new friends who empathize with their struggles during COVID-19.
Even in the gaming world, social interaction benefits our peace of mind like no other. The catch is that it depends on the type of friends you make because every game’s competitive environment is different.
That’s how the world is changing gaming. We’re all slowly but surely separating ourselves into niche clans and cliques who mainly play a single genre.
The age of the well-rounded gamer is wrapping up, and all of the old-timers are heading into gamer retirement at only 40-years old. Instead, we’re forming niche communities, welcoming more uninitiated noobs than ever, and expanding our social tribe online.
Gaming is merely the medium, the vehicle to make it happen.
A brave new online gaming world – Increased competitiveness, more opportunities to go pro
The nuances of the FPS community are a perfect example of our brave new online gaming world.
Counter-strike 1.6 used to dominate the PC shooter world until the release of console shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield in the 2000s. The effect was to make a whole new generation of gamers fall in love with console FPS, but what about the CS 1.6 die-hards?
Here’s the truth that a casual gamer may not know: an old school CS 1.6 player – and a modern CS:GO player to a lesser extent – despises, absolutely hates, CoD and Battlefield.
But why? All three games attract the same general type of consumer, the FPS guy. The difference is in the competitiveness and social mores of the community.
When we play modern versions of CoD, kicking and deriding your teammates is unheard of if you want to win consistently, but CS is different – way different!
When you’re dragging down the squad in CS, it’s socially accepted to get kicked after a few rounds. Veterans don’t get angry because “thems the breaks” in CS, and it’s been that way since the 1990s. In fact, in the CS community, it’s rude to join a match that’s above your tactical comprehension.
If you pop into a CS server during a knuckle-biting match between established clans, you say, “thanks for letting me get in a few rounds – good game,” and then gracefully excuse yourself.
That’s only one example of how a world-wide niche community can develop its own mind, so with more gamers coming online than ever before, what will happen is that this trend will accelerate in 2021.
A bold prediction for the gaming industry in 2021 – Revolution is coming
Next year, when we can finally get our hands on the next-gen consoles we crave, the gaming industry will go through a revolution.
That’s a fairly bold prediction, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that now is the time to go big or go home.
Many of us jumped into games for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, but will these players stay? Well, no one knows with absolute certainty since the pandemic isn’t over yet, nor will it be next year!
The geeks at the business intelligence firm Deloitte put it like this:
“The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated customer acquisition and engagement for video gaming services and experiences, but retention may face challenges as people return to schools and workplaces.”
That’s a fancy pants way to say that more people are gaming than ever before, but no one knows if they’ll stay or go back to their former social lives.
What this means for gamers is that you will be a part of something spectacular: a fresh digital revolution, gaming 3.0.
Be kind to your fellow noobs because he or she will transform into a gaming beast in no time flat if you show him or her the ropes.
COVID-19 won’t be through with us in 2021, so it’s time to dig your heels into online gaming and be part of something extraordinary over the coming years.