The gaming industry is one of the biggest financial sectors in the world but that doesn’t mean there is any room for complacency from games developers.
The global gaming market is set to generate over $159 billion in revenue this year. According to Newzoo senior market analyst, Thom Wijman, this is a 9.3% year-over-year growth. And it will only grow more as the years go on, reaching a projected $200 billion in revenue by 2023.
Exciting and enticing games are being produced at an almost monthly rate, meaning game developers have to work hard to keep ahead of the curve if they want to stand out. In a saturated market with a demanding player base creativity and thinking outside of the box are key aspects of producing a popular game.
Fortnite: The free-to-play battle royale
For the better part of 15 years, the Call of Duty franchise had ruled the roost when it came to first person shooters. Tens of millions of fans eagerly snapped up each new release and roamed around the multiplayer maps battling it out in game modes like Domination, Capture the Flag, and Search and Destroy.
In 2017, multiplayer fans found a new favorite: Fortnite. The free-to-play Battle Royale game brought first-person shooters to another level. Unlike Call of Duty, Fortnite didn’t focus on small, detailed multiplayer maps. Instead, it lumped 100 players together in a large-scale map to battle it out to be the last man standing.
Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode was so popular that a number of rival gaming producers immediately incorporated the mode into their own games. Earlier this year, Call of Duty eventually jumped on board, releasing their own Battle Royale game mode Warzone.
It was a welcome addition for the struggling franchise as over 30 million players downloaded the game mode in its first month of release. Thanks to the pioneering work of Fortnite, Battle Royale game modes are now a staple of most successful first-person shooters.
888 Poker: Taking gambling online
Shortly before the turn of the millennium, a group of Israeli entrepreneurs set about creating their own online casinos with the dream of attracting more players than Las Vegas’ super casinos. The first effort from the group was 888 Poker, an online poker room that brought together card fans from all across the planet.
The 2D user interface and unique online poker room facilities made 888 Poker an instant hit with players from the UK to the USA. Hundreds of thousands of players began signing up to the site and taking part in the company’s prestigious tournaments.
There are currently over 10 million 888 Poker players, making it the largest online poker community in the world. The success of 888 Poker was so much that almost every major gambling provider around the world began to invest into their online offerings. Now, it’s impossible to go a day without seeing an advertisement for an online casino or poker room, and that’s all thanks to the early work of 888 Poker.
Championship Manager: Making simulations cool
In 1992, when football management simulation game Championship Manager was first released, gaming was all about high-octane action. Gamers lapped up anything that was fast-paced and furious and it started to seem like there was no room for slower-paced simulation style games.
Championship Manager proved that axiom wrong, becoming an instant cult classic with football fans in the UK. The game which was developed by brothers Paul and Oliver Collyer. It featured an in-depth database of football clubs, players, and managers in the UK.
Players were tasked with taking charge of their favourite football club, controlling everything from training to match tactics to guiding their team to glory. What made Championship Manager different from other sports games was that players had no direct control over the sporting action.
After setting their tactics and picking their team, all players could do was sit on and watch in the hope that their players could pull off their instructions and snag a victory. This style proved to be a hit with gamers and Championship Manager, which was replaced by Football Manager in 2013, continues to be immensely popular.
Console titles such as FIFA have even incorporated a manager mode into their games to try and capture the simulation style on their own platform.
Resident Evil: Incorporating horror
Back in 1996, when Japanese video game developer Capcom released Resident Evil onto the market, horror wasn’t a genre usually covered by games. Two decades on, it’s one of the most popular gaming genres, all thanks to the success of Resident Evil.
What made the game clever wasn’t necessarily its introduction of a horror theme but the way that it built tension and fear in players by limiting their health, weapons, and ammunition. Claustrophobic camera angles and cramped rooms were also used as devices to get players on the edge of their seats.
In the modern era releases, such as Resident Evil 4 and the Gears of War series, there’s a continuation in a similar vein, keeping horror as a relevant gaming genre.
The Sims: Broadening demographics
Critics of the gaming industry claim that the market is still heavily loaded towards male players with too many titles completely ignoring female gamers. Well 20 years ago the market was even worse, with the vast majority of games featuring male protagonists in action thrillers.
Fortunately, The Sims which was first released in 2000 on PC broadened gaming demographics by appealing to male and female players alike. The simulation game featured no storyline, goal, or list of characters.
Rather, it allowed players to create their own virtual world where they were in control of their own “sim,” choosing how they lived their lives from their career goals to their families.
The game was an instant hit with players, but its biggest success came in appealing to female gamers. The Sims was revolutionary in that it convinced gaming developers that women were a market worth investing in.
While the market is still perhaps more biased to male player, the gap has narrowed. Last year, 41% of gamers in the United States identified as women. While some women prefer more relaxing games like The Sims, others have become a big percentage of players in competitive titles like Overwatch and League of Legends.