Written by: Ayet Bayrami
The global video game industry has gone through some very interesting developments in 2018. Some notable examples include the next big steps in edge computing and eSports, which iQU covered in last year’s predictions article, and they will only continue to evolve with time.
So with December right around the corner, we felt that it would be a good time to go over some of the most major on-going trends, and provide predictions on how they will continue to impact the gaming landscape in 2019 and beyond – for better or worse.
A Revolution in Game Streaming & Advertising
Just recently, Google unveiled “Project Stream” and soon afterwards began testing its potential with the help of Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey”. What makes this solution so intriguing is the fact that it will try to enable streaming graphically-demanding games on any plain PC.
While not the first one to attempt this, Google certainly possesses the resources and the necessary partners, in order to make the concept work and bring it to the market relatively quickly. Therefore, the first one of our predictions is that the company will make “Project Stream” available to at least 10 countries with high internet capabilities by pairing it up with several of the AAA titles usually released in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019.
If successful, said project will mark the beginning of a major new era in gaming by doing 2 things:
- Opening the advertising doors to a whole new untapped market of players who would not be able to support these games otherwise, but who don’t play smaller games either
- Challenging large corporations who specialize in powerful gaming hardware to further re-valuate their business models and expand into software solutions
The Rise of Non-Gaming Celebrity-Influencers
The second of iQU’s predictions has to do with the new direction in influencer marketing: hiring an increasing number of well-known people from other entertainment industries as ambassadors for gaming brands.
This practice has also existed for a while, but with recent, highly-successful campaigns to feature A-list actors like Ryan Reynolds (of “Deadpool” fame), it seems that Hollywood and the mainstream are embracing gaming as a widespread entertainment medium more and more.
But beyond simply vouching for games, such celebrities are actively participating in game sessions. In fact, when Drake, another rapper and an NFL player teamed up with the Twitch streamer Ninja, they broke viewer records on that platform.
This arguably demonstrates that:
- Game marketers should utilize such influencer marketing efforts in a way that shows the sincere enthusiasm and involvement in the game from the famous person’s side
- Partnerships like these can bring many new potential gamers and viewers (fans of said celebrity), while possibly introducing existing gamers to new performers – making it a desired, mutually-beneficial venture
Thus, we anticipate that next year we will see a sudden influx of valuable game(r)/celebrity pairings, even if they seem unusual at first.
China Back on Their Feet, One Step at a Time
While certainly serious, the Chinese freeze on newly-introduced games will most likely be lifted by mid-2019. Nevertheless, with the substantial losses experienced by both local (Tencent) and foreign companies, the biggest gaming market in the world will continue to see a slower growth compared to earlier years like 2017.
The third among our predictions is that this will partly be due to most foreign businesses wanting to “test the waters” first and not be constrained by yet another surprising ban, before resuming their heavy investments in the country. Simultaneously, because of those who do decide to continue strongly, 2019 will likely see an increase in outsider-advertisers localizing their products for Chinese consumption right away, in an effort to:
- Stand out as a “first movers” within this re-opened market
- Show faith in their Chinese partners when others wouldn’t
- Ease the governmental acceptance of their future games
Localization has certainly proven to be a profitable tactic when it comes to China and has been advised by leaders of Chinese game companies themselves. So, in a way, the regulatory delay could actually jump-start this inevitable adaptation practice, meaning that more game advertisers will need to invest in similar activities from next year.
The Growth of Mobile Gaming in the West
While mobile gaming may be huge in China at the moment, the rest of the world has slowly been making the same transition – back in 2015, the Japanese publisher Konami already announced that it would be focusing on mobile.
However, now we have reached a point where the same will soon become the new trend in the West. For example, much to the surprise of its fans, Blizzard announced that after waiting for almost 7 years since Diablo III, the next installment they’d get a chance to play would be one on mobile devices.
So it seems logical that in 2019, we will likely witness several other giants within the gaming landscape announce similar plans. Thus, game advertisers will need to slowly gain a competitive edge in mobile, as the platform’s relevance grows exponentially next year, while app stores continue to become even more saturated.
Moreover, this overall transition to mobile will likely be linked to eSports and their own rising popularity, as well as the ease which they provide for people to play and compete at anytime, anywhere.
Increased In-Game Purchase Regulations
By the end of 2018, PEGI (Pan European Game Information) will have fully introduced a new rating icon on physical game copies to notify the buyer that they include in-game purchase possibilities. Moreover, the increased global efforts this year to ban loot boxes do not seem to be coming to an end any time soon.
When looking at these factors together, among others, the fifth in our predictions is that in 2019, companies who mostly rely on in-game micro-transactions will surely continue to experience monetization challenges. This is especially true for mobile, since it has been reported that the costs for in-app purchases are rising, while the returns are diminishing.
Although, next year some of these businesses might very well try to explore alternative revenue-generating methods like playable/interactive ads, the benefits of which have been covered by iQU before. But when these are combined with some of the other trends covered throughout this post, said ads could present even more added value to their campaigns – for example, with the aforementioned streaming possibilities, the idea of quickly playing a short segment from an AAA game (as an ad itself) is one that can be appreciated by most advertisers.
With so many changes on the horizon, it’s important to understand the determinants of your game campaign’s performance and how it can be optimized for the future. So if you’re interested in discussing how you can reach your optimal ROI, then schedule a free, 30-min consultancy with iQU!
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