The worldwide gaming industry is estimated to bring in $74.2 billion this year, according to Superdata. The research firm today released its Global Games Market Report 2015, offering a snapshot of where it sees games at the moment and where it expected the industry to go in the future.
While Superdata's math may seem less optimistic than that of some other industry prognosticators, the firm still expects gaming to grow, driven primarily by continued performance from categories like mobile, free-to-play MMOs. However, the firm's report sees the global gaming market's growth slowing to a total of $81.7 billion in 2017, and remaining flat in 2018. While most segments of the industry are expected to grow in 2018, they will be offset by continuing declines in retail, pay-to-play MMOs, and social games.
Superdata did single out a few promising markets for growth, specifically eSports, gaming video content, and virtual reality. Together, Superdata CEO Joost Van Dreunen sees them as a few hallmarks of an emerging trend within games he calls "playable media."
"As the industry has changed, so, too has the audience," van Dreunen said. "Already did we establish that gamers today are not the same ones who have traditionally been considered its core audience. But now that gaming is mainstream, audience behavior is different, too. Today, people don't just consume entertainment but increasingly play an active part in it. Ranging from modding to streaming, from cosplay to competitive gaming, the market for gaming presents a much broader and more diverse mix of opportunities and challenges than ever before."
Looking ahead, Superdata also expects a shift in where the industry's money comes from. For 2015, the firm is projecting North America to retain its position as the largest market for games, accounting for $23.6 billion of the industry. However, Superdata believes it will soon cede that title to Asia, which has grown significantly and is expected to bring in $23.1 billion by year's end.
While the US may soon be less significant to games (relatively speaking), the opposite is unlikely to happen. Superdata's report noted the industry's increasing share of the total US entertainment market over the last 30 years. In 1985, games made up just 5 percent of the $79 billion American annually spent on entertainment. This year, they are expected to make up 13 percent of the country's $200 billion entertainment spend, a $25 billion haul (including hardware) that puts it ahead of newspapers, magazines, box office receipts, music, and radio, trailing only broadcast and cable television when it comes to revenue generated.
[CORRECTION]: An earlier version of this article implied that the projections of other industry research firms, specifically Newzoo, included console and PC hardware sales. Neither Superdata nor Newzoo included those sales in their projections.