From your own living room amusement to international tournaments with millions of dollars at stake, you can find gaming in many forms nowadays. One of the biggest changes that this industry has seen in the last years is that the technology of handheld devices has evolved so much that we are able to take video games with us everywhere we go. Having portable hardware with increasingly better displays, higher processing speed and larger access to internet has greatly contributed to video games becoming a mainstream activity. So how will the industry transform in the upcoming years?

Tech advisor Digi-Capital released a study which estimates that the game software industry will increase its revenue from a total of $90 billion this year to $115 billion in 2020. These numbers come to support what we know from our current experience in the industry: the demand for video games is on the rise.

The same study finds that mobile games will still be the category that brings the biggest revenue with more than 40% of the business, as the market for console games will drop. Estimations for the industry in 2020 also indicate an interesting shift in the hardware that people use for gaming purposes and a new category of games is expected to emerge: virtual reality games. The potential growth is thought to be so fast that virtual reality will account for as much as 8.6% of the revenue share.

Such numbers are indeed optimistic when it comes to using new smart devices for gaming purposes. As the Populate project objective is developing a prototype gaming platform using both smartglasses and mobile devices as controllers, we had the chance to gather interesting insights from users who interacted with the game prototype. According to their feedback, there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to using smartglasses, but the gaming experience is worth it.

Similar to the way users encountered difficulties with using new technology like smartglasses while testing the Populate prototype, we believe that any future games using virtual reality will also most likely encounter a period of adjustment for the mass market. From the point of view of our team of developers who worked on the Populate project, such hardware platforms as smartglasses, devices with augmented or virtual reality are both challenging and incredibly rewarding to work with. The latest devices of this type are one step closer to the ideal of removing the physical barrier between the user’s intention and the controllable object. One user testing the Populate prototype at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco said: "Using smartglasses makes me feel like reality and the actual game are merging. If I want to go left in the game I just turn left in real life."

As far as 2020 users are concerned, there’s another topic that comes up in our mind: the audience. On one hand we will create gaming experiences for people who are the first true digital natives, a young generation that was born with technology at its fingertips. On the other hand, the wide use of smartphones and tablets has introduced gaming to a wide demographic. This year’s Nielsen 360° Gaming Report showed that mobile games are as appealing to women as they are to men. Gaming is likely to become a seamless part of life and a strong branch of entertainment in the same way that television has been up to now.

We think that there is also increased support for initiatives in the field. This has been particularly true with our experience working on the Populate Project. The European Commission continues to back up video games development as a cultural and creative sector and the European gaming industry is encouraged to release products with international high circulation potential. This further proves that the industry has reached a level of maturity that will allow innovative products to be released on a wide market.

So what will the industry bring by 2020? We’ll just have to see, but indications are that this will be an exciting time to be a game developer.

Populate Project

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement no 644655

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