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The Games Market and Beyond in 2021: The Year in Numbers

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To mirror on some of the eventful and progressive years throughout video games, streaming, esports, and cellular, we’ll now look again at our information and evaluation over the previous yr. The article may also spotlight a number of the yr’s most vital developments, that includes quotes from market analysts.


Table of Contents

2021 Exhibits Resilience of the Video games Market: Key Numbers and Knowledge

After an unprecedented interval of development final yr, we assumed that the video games market wouldn’t have the ability to develop on the similar tempo. The truth is, we initially forecast a slight decline in revenues, however client spending on video games has been resilient to the longer-term penalties of the pandemic. The video games market in 2021 will generate complete revenues of $180.3 billion, up +1.4% over final 2020.

“We began the yr considering it will be unimaginable for the market to match 2020, as delays for AAA releases and ongoing provide shortages for brand spanking new gaming {hardware} gave folks little alternative to spend,” says Tom Wijman, Head of Stories & Forecasting. “But, 9 months into 2021, we realized that the market would develop once more. If something, this reveals that the video games market is unquestionably not the seasonal, hit-driven enterprise it as soon as was. New gaming content material not means new video games or new {hardware}—a brand new season go is simply as prone to drive revenues.”

Whereas console and PC will see slight declines because of thinner launch calendars, cellular’s efficiency has secured one other development yr for the general market:

Likewise, the audiences for video games and gaming content material have continued to develop, even following 2020’s unprecedented addition of recent players:

  • 0 billion gamerswill drive the above revenues.
  • That’s+5.3% greater than 2020’s participant quantity.
  • 55% of those gamers are based mostly in Asia-Pacific.

2021’s Video games Market Highlights: M&A, Metaverse, and Media

One of the notable developments throughout video games market operations has been the big variety of merger and acquisition offers, investments, and IPOs, together with Roblox, Applovin, Krafton, and Unity.

Most of those offers have been closed or introduced within the first half of 2021, taking advantage of a constructive sentiment on the inventory exchanges.

“Nonetheless, the quantity and measurement of large-scale acquisition offers is unprecedented, with a number of acquisitions valued over one billion {dollars},” says Michiel Buijsman, a Senior Market Analyst. “Acquisitions are coming from all corners: console platform holders increasing their first-party portfolios, cellular promoting corporations buying sport studios for vertical integration, AAA/AA publishers increasing to diversify geographically or by platform, and way more.”

To call just a few of those:

  • Microsoft acquired ZeniMax to spice up its content material and Recreation Cross efforts.
  • Cellular publishers acquired ad-tech corporations to offset privateness challenges ensuing from Apple’s ATT (e.g., Zynga acquired Chartboost).
  • ByteDance’s acquisition of Moonton put the TikTok maker within the quick lane to changing into a significant core cellular sport writer.
  • Sony acquired some long-time companions to spice up its video games improvement (e.g., Bluepoint) and effectivity (e.g., Nixxes).

In search of extra video games tendencies and information?

Talking of Sony and Microsoft, the businesses respectively launched their PlayStation 5 and Xbox Sequence X|S on the finish of 2020. Provide of the brand new consoles has been quick and demand excessive ever since. Each corporations’ consoles are promoting higher than their predecessors regardless of these provide constraints.

Gamers on the brand new consoles even obtained a sneak peek at gaming’s future on the finish of 2021, with a formidable playable demo of Unreal Engine 5 based mostly in The Matrix universe.

“The engine will formally launch in spring 2022, promising photo-realism and streamlined improvement instruments that time to an thrilling future for video games,” stated Julianne Harty, Lead for the International Video games Market Report. “All indicators level to Unreal 5 bridging the hole between belongings in films and belongings in video games, offering a key piece of the metaverse puzzle for manufacturers.”

In fact, one of many hottest video games market matters in 2021 has been the metaverse, which incorporates:

  • The continued success of digital concert events in Fortnite and different video games;
  • Roblox’s IPO debut with a market cap of $40.6 billion;
  • Fb’s rebrand into Meta.

However what precisely is the metaverse? And who’re its largest stakeholders and innovators? Obtain our free Intro to the Metaverse Report to seek out out.

“Whether or not or not folks agree with the metaverse-centric future that Meta, Roblox, and Epic Video games try to construct, one factor has change into more and more clearer over the past yr: private expression and identification have change into very important for gamers,” says Mihai Vicol, one in every of our new Market Analysts particularly centered on rising tendencies inside gaming.

“Because the social actions of the comparatively extra tech-savvy youthful generations have a tendency to maneuver on-line, digital worlds are poised to change into the social hubs of the subsequent decade on the expense of conventional 2D social media platforms.”

Many are pegging the metaverse as the way forward for leisure. However gaming can be conquering extra conventional types of leisure: films, TV sequence, and Hollywood.

“Gaming is to the 2020s leisure what superheroes have been to the 2010s,” says Julianne Harty. “The wild success of Arcane (Riot Video games’ Netflix sequence based mostly on the League of Legends universe) and season 2 of The Witcher (which takes visible cues from The Witcher video games) spotlight that video games can encourage commercially and critically profitable media past video games. The long run seems to be brilliant, with a The Final of Us sequence, Sonic film sequel, and an Uncharted film on the horizon.”

Cloud Gaming and 5G in 2021

In fact, we couldn’t discuss 2021’s largest video games market developments with out mentioning cloud gaming, the place there’s been loads of innovation and client uptake this yr. The truth is, the cloud gaming market generated greater than twice as many revenues in 2021 than it did in 2020, and much more development is coming:

‘’The cloud gaming market is well-positioned to fulfill the sturdy development that predicts for subsequent yr and past,’’ says Market Advisor  Guilherme Fernandes. ‘’Many customers will seek for other ways to play new releases, as players battle to improve their {hardware} and new elements shall be laborious to return by till late 2022 at the very least. Cloud gaming is an ideal resolution for these gamers.’’

Uncover extra insights into cloud gaming from Guilherme and different consultants on this free cloud gaming report, which incorporates an infographic of the cloud gaming ecosystem.

Cloud gaming is among the largest use instances of 5G. Fortunately, extra customers are adopting 5G-ready gadgets:

In 2021, the international variety of energetic smartphones reached 4.6 billion (+5.7% yr on yr), amongst which 15.4%, or 703.5 million, are 5G-ready. This represents a formidable year-on-year development of +230.9% within the variety of energetic 5G-ready smartphones worldwide.

The previous yr usually has been an eventful one for the cellular market.

“One of the influential modifications has been Apple’s App Monitoring Transparency,” says Tianyi Gu, Market Lead for Telecom & Cellular Providers. “Key gamers within the cellular (gaming) ecosystem—together with builders, publishers, advert tech corporations, and app shops—all have to adapt to those new modifications and the challenges they current.”

“But, the cellular market has led a number of the largest and brightest evolutions in gaming, and we’re assured that the cellular market will proceed to thrive below the brand new privateness norm.” What else is occurring within the cellular market? Obtain this free report to seek out out.

2021 Esports Market Highlights

Gaming goes far past taking part in and social engagement. Viewership can be a necessary a part of the pastime. To that finish, the esports and live-streaming markets have seen huge success in 2021.

And there are extra esports followers in 2021 than ever earlier than:

  • 1 million folks watch esports (up +6.7% yr on yr).
  • 5 million of those are occasional viewers (watch much less as soon as a month).
  • The remaining 229.6 million are esports fanatics (as soon as a month or extra).

Many of those followers—particularly the fanatics—can’t wait to return to bodily esports occasions after the market transferring to digital-only through the pandemic.

“The return to in-person occasions provides again some of the thrilling elements for esports, the group arenas,” says Hugo Tristão, our Market Lead for Esports. “A reside viewers permits manufacturers to connect with the followers extra intimately, attracting extra sponsorships; due to this fact, bringing extra future income to the business. Audiences have had a small style of in-person occasions once more this yr, and so they can’t look forward to enviornment play to change into the norm once more.”

The market’s sturdy engagement has trickled into revenues, which grew regardless of in-person occasions not totally returning. Esports will generate greater than $1.0 billion this yr, pushed primarily via sponsorship revenues:

Elevating investments stays an important a part of the enterprise mannequin for groups and organizations. A milestone for esports was when FaZe Clan introduced it will go public by way of SPAC at a $1 billion valuation, the primary time an esports group raised capital from the general public market. In the meantime, 100 Thieves raised $60 million in a Sequence C spherical. The corporate is now valued at $460 million.

Seeking to rely much less on elevating capital, esports organizations want to diversify their income streams. Many are doing this by way of blockchain tech. We’ve seen many groups and organizers diving into NFTs to monetize esports’ rising engagement additional. One latest instance contains FaZe Clan partnering with MoonPay for NFTs and crypto.

Whereas the trajectory is unclear, NFTs could play an enormous half in esports’ future as groups proceed to diversify their income streams. The expertise is much more current inside the metaverse:

“As 3D avatars will possible function one’s digital identification into digital worlds, an alternate financial system is prone to emerge,” says Mihai.” As an alternative of serving customers (D2C), companies and people will primarily cater to digital avatars (D2A – Direct-to-Avatar).”

Bringing issues again to at present, esports video games are persevering with to make use of sensible methods to develop their viewership numbers. A latest instance contains Halo Infinite’s HCS. The bottom HCS prize pool shall be $3 million however shall be pushed additional by crowdfunding (a small share of each Halo Infinite buy will get added to the prize pool).

What’s extra, the sport’s writer, 343, permits streamers (extra on them shortly) to co-stream esports occasions. 343 has additionally leveraged Twitch drops (rewards for followers who watch a HCS stream). Halo esports has loved an enormous resurgence because of these ways and the profitable launch of Halo Infinite.

Our esports information additionally reveals that League of Legends and Free Fireplace amassed record-breaking viewership throughout their world championships, showcasing sturdy viewership for each longstanding esports titles and newer cellular ones. Recreation viewing, nonetheless, expands past skilled competitors. Wanting on the basic game-streaming viewers numbers is much more spectacular.

Recreation Dwell-Streaming Engagement in 2021

We’re shortly closing in on 1 billion folks watching live-streamed gaming content material. 2021 marked a landmark yr for reside streaming, which broke all viewership data set the yr earlier than. Once more, 2020 was a very massive yr for streaming as a result of pandemic. However the viewers continued to develop, +12.7% yr on yr to 747 million folks in 2021.

every platform:

  • Twitch generated 23.3 billion hours of reside viewership up to now in 2021, an all-time excessive for the platform.
  • YouTube generated 4.5 billion hours up to now in 2021.
  • Fb Gaming, which we began monitoring in April 2021, generated 3.5 billion hours from then till now.

One of many most important takeaways from our 2021 live-streaming information and Client Insights is that many individuals who began watching streams through the early pandemic have caught round. This helped the most important platforms get pleasure from huge viewership boosts in 2021. However smaller platforms are additionally benefiting:

“Some viewers are shifting from massive, established platforms in direction of smaller options,” says Luca Chiovato, a Market Analyst at specializing in the reside streaming market. “Usually, these smaller platforms put a heavier emphasis on localization, pushed by model injections and activations. These providers are tailor-made round particular gaming experiences (e.g., cellular gaming) and are designed to work finest on these gadgets.”

Merely put, engagement is thru the roof, and there’s extra competitors in streaming than ever earlier than, creating a greater ecosystem for viewers and streamers alike.

As Senior Market Analyst Jordan Fragen places it, “The platform wars have reignited with a vengeance. YouTube is attracting many Twitch streamers, as Google’s platform requires fewer hours of streaming monthly, giving creators a greater work/life steadiness and extra alternatives to construct their model exterior of streaming.”

By way of hours watched, Twitch stays the clear market chief within the West and continues to innovate past video games. Throughout the board, extra creators have partnered with sports activities leagues and types to deliver much more customers to Twitch. For instance, Brazilian streamer Gaules partnered with the NBA to stream basketball video games to his followers.

And that is just the start. The approaching months and years will deliver much more innovation:

“Going into the subsequent yr, we count on the engagement with live-streaming platforms to continue to grow as creators and platforms proceed to connect with and resonate with their communities. Weare excited to see by which new methods the market will take form,” stated Luca. Wish to study extra about esports and streaming. Hugo, Jordan, and Luca are all the time working laborious on our International Esports Market & Dwell Streaming Report subscription, which a number of the largest manufacturers and video games corporations are utilizing to navigate each markets.