The transition to staying at home since the spring of 2020 has brought dramatic change to many industries, including gaming. People have begun spending many more hours in front of their screens, consuming all kinds of content as they try to fill their days and cope with the age’s uncertainty.
The pandemic was key to sparking a new wave of gaming popularity worldwide. During lockdowns around the world, millions of new users discovered interests in digital activities. Deloitte’s 2020 digital media trends survey found that a third of consumers subscribed to a video gaming service used a cloud gaming service or a virtual sporting event for the first time.
The number of people who started playing shot up dramatically during the first months of the lockdown. As a result, the industry saw revenues skyrocket by $19 billion in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
How the Gaming Industry Has Changed
We witnessed a huge increase in the number of new gamers during the pandemic, causing a phenomenal surge in popularity. Thus, we can understand that the growth of user engagement with games was due not only to the lack of live entertainment, but also the absence of offline social activity. Once isolated by the pandemic, consumers sought to find social connections via gaming.
A Surge in Mobile Gaming
Our phones help us stay in touch with the world around us more than any other device, and they have also become leading entertainment and recreation platforms for millions of consumers. Fast and easy access to mobile games has contributed to greater user engagement, and brought total video game market revenue in 2020 to $79.5 billion, up from $63 billion just one year before.
Mobile phones have actually become the most popular gaming devices. According to GSMA Intelligence, there are over 5 billion unique mobile phone users in the world today. Therefore, the potential audience of mobile games far exceeds the audience of other platforms.
Thanks to a billions-strong army of mobile owners, mobile games are only continuing to increase in popularity. The number of mobile gamers increased by 12% in 2020, reaching an astounding total of 2.5 billion active mobile gamers. Due to the continuing restrictions in many countries, this number is expected to go even higher in 2021. The future of mobile gaming now appears more promising and lucrative than ever.
CTV Gaming Boom
The pandemic has also fueled interest in other entertainment platforms, especially connected TVs (or CTVs). CTVs are internet-connected television sets that support apps with which viewers can enjoy entertainment beyond what can be provided through a normal cable or satellite connection. Shortly after the beginning of lockdowns in the US, time spent on CTV devices experienced an 81% spike compared to the same point in 2019. That increase equates to nearly 4 billion hours of CTV use per week across the country. Even after this peak, CTV usage has remained well above pre-pandemic levels.
How was this possible? The number of streaming TV households, who do not rely on cable or satellite for their TV entertainment, has increased by 84% since 2016, reaching 51.7 million households in 2020. Streaming TV households are expected to pass cable households in 2024. There has also been a rapid growth of time spent watching CTV per day, with an increase of 33.8% in 2020. The combination of increased cord-cutting and increased CTV viewing indicates that, at the very least, traditional TVs which only connect to cable, satellite, or other wired media sources are on their way out, as people are looking for internet-connected CTVs that fit all of their entertainment needs.
As more people discover the full functionalities of their CTVs, they are set to discover the CTV gaming universe. CTV gaming is a less formal type of console gaming that closely matches a mobile experience. Unlike playing video games on Nintendo, Xbox, and other consoles that represent the high end of gaming on TV, CTV gaming is more like an extended form of mobile gaming via a CTV platform.
Roku, one of the world’s most popular CTV platforms, published 64 gaming apps in its app store in 2020. This was double the rate of previous years.
Will CTV Gaming Keep Growing When Lockdowns End?
CTV is not just a platform on which to watch TV, movies, and other video content. It is also a platform for fun, memorable games that will have users coming back for more. The growth of the CTV market, in general, bodes well for the development of CTV gaming.
Games make up a small percentage of CTV apps at the moment. The space remains wide open for industry players who want to move into the market. In fact, market demand will only grow as people get more accustomed to having their games right at their fingertips and playing them on large TV screens, rather than tiny smartphones. Moreover, interactive games can overtake the news or TV shows running in the background.
Because CTV gaming is a rather recent innovation, the industry has just begun to take shape with few big players on the market. Yet, some of them are showcasing their potential and intention to take root in CTV gaming and capitalize on their experience as mobile game developers. One of the first professional developers moving into the uncharted territory of CTV gaming is our company, Playcent Games.
The pandemic has brought in big changes in all spheres of entertainment, particularly in CTV. The success of CTV streaming expansion is an indicator that other CTV entertainment experiences, like CTV gaming, are set to take off in the post-coronavirus world. This means that they will draw in even more powerful industry players.
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