2016 is going to be a big year for the gaming industry. Last year, we witnessed traditional developers push through to the mobile space and popular developers like Activision Blizzard purchasing Candy Crush developer King in a $5.9 billion deal.
2015 was also the year when we saw the emergence of virtual reality revolution with gadgets like GearVR headset from Samsung and mobile eSports. The gaming market will continue to mature and so would be the way in-game ads are pushed towards the end user.
Gaming has in fact been a strategic platform for advertisers. For advertisers, games provide the opportunity to put forward a brand in front of kids and teenagers early on. It is more likely that they will be converted into a customer later and in the meantime, ‘beg their parents’ to buy the product.
Kids below seven years of age cannot really tell the difference between entertainment and advertising and when it comes to teenagers, advertises encourage a ‘brand-profitable’ personality and possession. Depending upon the target users, game ads serve as a crucial marketing tool for many brands and product lines.
According to a survey conducted by deltaDNA, more than two-third of gaming professionals used interstitial advertisements in games. Reward advertisements were also a popular feature. Further, 17% game developers served native ads through free-to-play games, and traditional banners too formed a part of the mix.
Another report by Deloitte suggests that gaming is among the top media activities engaged in by smart phone users. Even people in the age bracket of 65-75 play some time in some kind of mobile gaming every week. EMarketer estimates that more that 180.4 million smart phone users will engage in gaming in 2016.
The current development in the gaming industry is merging of categories that had distinct recognition earlier. The boundaries are beginning to blur between virtual reality and real life, and the growth of immersive gaming.
Today, crowdfunding is a common way to finance both game development and the in-game rewards. Here are the top trends to watch out for:
Expansion Of “Toy-To-Life”
This is a genre that is defined by physical toys interacting with the gaming environment. The ‘toys’ use Near Field Communication technology to communicate via a portal device to transport the physical characteristics of a character into the game environment along with player data. It has been one of the most lucrative and talked-about offshoots of the video gaming industry.
In 2016, we can expect a greater production and development in the ‘toy-to-life’ genre. Further, with NFS technology becoming more affordable and its rising familiarity with users ‘toy-to-life’ would be an encouraging platform to work upon.
A good example for this would be Project Legion, developed by Monkey Potion studio based in Taiwan. In this setup, NFS chips have been inserted into all playing pieces, enabling the board game to be associated with a mobile app that replicates each turn on your screen.
Games like Project Legion provide sufficient opportunity to make on screen game marketing more interactive than ever.
The Blurring Of Social Media And Gaming
Some of the latest games have harnessed the advantages associated with improved broadband speeds and other network features. This enables players to benefit from a dynamic social experience.
Minecraft is among the best examples in this category. The game has become a popular online meeting venue for friends looking to collaborate for construction projects and related activities. Destiny, another Co-op game, encourages users to socialize and share to be able to move forward in a game.
Freemium Gaming Design
Modern game developers are looking to tweak metrics by reviewing user data. Destiny has an entire team that analyzes and interprets player feedback and server data to bring about more improvements in the game. This has helped promote regular updates, thereby retaining valuable players.
SuperCell’s Clash of Clans provides a similar platform that revolves around player metrics data. This approach also benefits monetization with in-game purchases that help a player across levels. In these cases, although the game is available for free, players can opt for a better game play experience by paying a reasonable amount.
Crowdfunding For Game Development
More games are getting crowd funded by end users who have a definite level of interest and contribute to further development. A good example would be Shenmue III that attracted more than 69,320 backers that together pledged a sum of US$6,333,295
Crowdfunding in the gaming industry will continue to grow and developers would follow the examples of eSports Valve or the Hi-Rez. There certainly is an associated risk with crowdfunding, but donations are also taking the form of pre-orders.
Immersive Gaming With Augmented And Virtual Reality
While augmented reality is the superimposition of sensory inputs like graphics, touch, sound and video, virtual reality embarks upon creating a 3D environment that the end users finds himself interacting with. Ingress is one of the best examples in this category that transforms real world into a gaming landscape.
Lately, there has been huge excitement over virtual reality with dedicated sessions being organized all over the world for developers and end users alike. We are already anticipating the release of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus (PlayStation VR).
Several publishers other than these have been ramping up their research and development around VR that will automatically see a potential boom in business.
Videos also form a part of in-game advertisements. In 2015, Facebook alone played more than 4 billion videos everyday and Cisco suggests that by the year 2019, 80% of all internet traffic would be streaming video and this includes game environments.
The moment it looks like the mobile game market is saturated, new technologies and trends make way for a wide range of opportunities. Mobiles and smart devices have encouraged users spend more time in game environments, thus being exposed to a greater number of advertisement and marketing campaigns.
Clearly, there’s a lot in store for 2016 and game developers are already gearing up to benefit from the trend.