The video games industry is a booming sector. Over the past few years we have seen the advent of virtual reality (VR) designed for entertainment. Video games are increasingly seen as the 'bridge' between this new tech and the consumer - the first step in testing the limits of VR and making sure its fit for purpose for the everyday buyer.
Additionally, the rise of 'e-Sports', or competitive gaming, has pumped vast amounts of money into what was previously seen as a casual pastime. There are now entire TV channels dedicated to e-Sports, and estimates from CNN suggest its global revenue is 'expected to smash $1 billion by 2019'.
I have grown up with this rapid expansion in gaming, and have seen it develop in real-time. Whilst largely positive, however, it has introduced some real threats to an industry I love deeply. One seems to stand out to me above all others.
Mobile gaming is a phenomenon that large companies have latched onto over the past couple of years, and majorly pushed out to market. With such a bustling and thriving community rising in the gaming world, newer casual gamers are bound to be attracted from all corners, and this is exactly what has happened so far. According to Newzoo, a data resource for the games industry, the global games market reached $99.6 billion in 2016 - and mobile generated 37% of this, taking a larger share than PC for the first time. Mobile gaming evidently struck a chord in the market.
Many companies have been opportunist of this infant player base. Micro transactions, for example, became a popular money-making tool for companies within mobile games, where players can pay real-life money for in-game currency and/or upgrades. These would often speed up rates of progression in the game exponentially, and for a consumer base with less time to spare, are an attractive time-saving option.
I am firmly of the opinion that a core component of video games is self-achieved progression, and I feel the current model for many mobile games largely circumvents this. Whilst I learned this from the age of six or seven, through joyous hours of trial and error, it concerns me that many peoples' first proper introduction to gaming is nothing more than a thinly veiled cash grab by developers. It's worrying, that the younger games become, the more power developers gain.
We can all see the potential that exists for the future of video games. If we are to get there in one piece, there needs to be a healthier culture of collaboration between creator and consumer.
As the industry stands, there is no room for creativity anymore, no room for the passion projects. There is only room for those who want to build games that milk their customers without making them angry, because that is the only way we can survive. It is not about making good games right now — the consumer doesn't care enough.