In 2020, with the pandemic, you likely have been at home more than you ever have before. With movies theatres and restaurants shut down or even unsafe to go to, you’ve had to find new ways to pass your time.
It may come as no surprise that while many industries have suffered this year, the already growing gaming industry has boomed. From classic games like mahjong and freecell, to mobile games and virtual reality ones, the world is playing more games than ever before. All told, it’s an industry that’s expected to bring in $159.3 billion this year alone, which is a 9.3% YoY improvement.
To the eyes of an entrepreneur, this means opportunity. But with the gaming world being so large, where should you zoom in? Here are some of the areas in the gaming industry ripe with possibility.
Fantasy and betting for eSports
In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a 1952 law that made sports betting illegal in most states. Just two years later, 19 states have legalized sports betting, with more to come.
However, there is still a major gap between wagers made between real sports and eSports. While eSports betting is expected to collect $1.81 billion in 2020, compared to just $24 million in 2015, live sports betting in volume is $250 billion. This suggests that despite the huge growth in eSports today, there is still plenty of room to grow.
Companies like Skillz, which enables betting in games, are successfully taking advantage of this trend. Recently, they announced plans to go public at a $3.5 billion valuation.
Moreover, there has been a wave of innovation in fantasy sports. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKing allow you to play fantasy sports on a play-by-play or game-by-game level. It’s only a matter of time before these innovations take hold in the eSports space. How can you take the innovation happening in fantasy sports and sports betting and bring that to eSports?
Blockchain and gaming
For the uninitiated, blockchain gaming refers to a specific niche market of games that run on the infrastructure that supports cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. They’re part of a whole ecosystem of decentralized apps that aim to disrupt everything from major financial markets to the real estate industry. Gaming is among these industries where there are opportunities with blockchain.
There have been some noteworthy recent innovations in blockchain gaming that may open up the market for new developers to enter. For example, blockchain gaming ecosystems like the one just launched by Team3D are giving game developers a bolt-on way to include tokens and crypto-wagering into their games. Their token represents an exchange medium which is decentralized that developers can use both as an in-game currency as well as to manage across games. It’s also built to create a long-term funding stream for game developers.
This means not only can you raise money through cryptocurrencies to fund game development, but you also have a built in system token system to act as a virtual currency for your game. The applications are almost endless.
In a world of growing privacy concerns, blockchain based games tied to virtual currencies may be the games of the future. What other trends in blockchain can be brought into gaming?
Next-Generation AR Gaming
For a while, technologists and gaming enthusiasts alike have touted augmented reality (AR) as the next big thing in gaming. But to date, few developers have been able to spin the technology into a true breakthrough game. Magic Leap, for instance, raised over $2.6 billion with the promise of bringing augmented reality to the masses, but so far has little show. Niantic’s Pokémon Go, which was built on the back of a massively popular franchise, stands out as one of the few exceptions.
Nevertheless, general consensus remains unchanged that AR is going to be part of the next generation of gaming innovation. But something’s about to happen that could finally help developers fulfill the promise of AR gaming: the arrival of wide-scale 5G coverage. It’s considered to be a missing link for AR developers. The ability to quickly move data to and from phones and AR devices can make it possible to create truly immersive experiences in real-world environments of all kinds.
Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm is also on the verge of rolling out 5G phone-tethered AR headsets that will help gaming entrepreneurs take advantage of what the new networks have to offer. Apple iPhone 12 is anticipated to have 5G connection enabling more AR gameplay. All this means more and more people will have access to technology that allows you to enjoy high quality AR games.
If you believe AR can usher the games of the future, this can be the unique inflection point of opportunity. Perhaps it’s time to build a software development kit to make it simple to create AR games, or to bring traditional games like minesweeper to the real world via AR.
Playing to Win
Not only is the gaming space growing at a fast clip, but there is a unique intersection of new technologies and ideas, from blockchain to AR, taking place. This will lead to new trends and opportunities in the coming years. If you always wanted to play games as a child, this may be a perfect to do so.