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Gaming was one industry that benefitted and grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With about 3.2 billion gamers across the globe last year, the industry is poised to generate $196B at the close of 2022. Its evolution runs parallel to technological advancement, relying heavily on innovative tools and software. As new technology enters the market, and with the introduction of the metaverse, there will be a few trends to keep an eye on throughout 2023.
With a global market value of about $1.1B at the close of 2021, eSports is the fastest growing facet in gaming. Outlined in a report by marketing analytics company, Newzoo, it is estimated that 380 million people will watch eSports by 2023's end. Streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming allow viewers to connect with their favorite gamers and watch competitions and live events. Popular social media platforms are also facilitating and strengthening these connections.
Mobile gaming drives the highest amount of revenue in the video game market. As it evolves and users increase, cross-platform development will be at the epicenter of this vertical. Developers need to create games optimized for a higher number of [mobile] devices to have a wider reach. Smartphone computing capabilities have also advanced in recent years and can support higher screen solutions on a much smaller screen. The introduction of 5G will allow for faster speeds with lower latency.
It seems the future of gaming is in decentralized gaming economies (GameFi). In 2021, we saw the convergence of gaming, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency. With over $4 billion in investments, blockchain gaming is positioned to experience tremendous growth throughout 2023. The integration of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency tokens has led to various niche games such as play-to-earn, pay-to-earn, and NFT based gaming. They are quite popular as they bring real-world value to gameplay, providing new revenue streams for developers and users.
Developers are integrating augmented and virtual reality technologies into mobile and wearable games. Companies are blurring the line between gaming and experiences, adding in-game concerts, special events, digital goods. The metaverse is a significant trend in this market, influencing video game development. Facebook changing its name to Meta has brought this concept center stage, investing in more immersive virtual experiences. The AR/VR gaming market is expected to grow to $11B by 2026.
Cloud-based gaming, or gaming as a service (GaaS), refers to gaming content being delivered to users over the cloud. Through this method, streaming services deliver game content to an app or web browser rather than installing games on a PC or console. All that's required is a secure internet connection. While this type of gaming has been around for a while, it has plagued infrastructure issues. Major players such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have stepped in and provided solutions for faster deployment and wider reach.
Game development keeps getting more difficult every year. Many AAA blockbuster games can cost the same as their movie counterparts. Because of that, game development tools and software programs need to be on the cutting edge. There will need to be a lot of innovative features to keep up with the game development trends for 2023.
Autodesk Maya is a heavy hitter in the game development industry, considered to be the standard for 3D models and animation. Maya's robust tools simplify complex animation tasks. Joint centering, weight distribution, grease pencil, etc. All assist in visualizing creations before starting development, saving time. Features such as real-time analysis allow artists to review their designs' credibility and make changes as they go.
Leading in popularity, with a 48% market share, Unity is a multiplatform game engine with a straightforward architecture that supports 2D and 3D gaming. Its use of a relatively easy scripting language, C#, makes for an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Further simplifying development, its C# API offers plugins, games, and drag and drop functionality. For quicker iteration cycles, Unity provides a no-code solution with Bolt, a visual scripting feature that allows developers to create logic for games and applications without writing code. Bolt also provides an API for advanced programming or customizations shared with other team members.
If photorealism is a priority, Unreal Engine is a great option. It's widely known, and a popular tool amongst developers heralded as the AAA game engine in the industry. This engine's distinctiveness is in its graphic quality, providing high-quality graphics in a fraction of the time relative to other tools. The graphics features are already integrated with the platform, whereas they need to be installed separately with different engines.
GameMaker Studio 2 is the preeminent tool for creating commercial 2D games. It is simple enough for developers with very little to no experience to build high-quality games. It also offers features and tools for the more experienced to create more complex games. It operates on a subscription model, which might not be ideal for creators with a tight budget.
Construct 3 is a novice-friendly game engine used to create various 2D games, from single to multiplayer that can be exported to mobile and desktop platforms. It is popular amongst indie game developers, being the second most popular engine in itch.io, an indie gaming marketplace behind Unity. While it is possible to develop games that appear to be 3D with Construct's built-in graphics features, to create true 3D games, you'd need to use third-party tools.
What sets this tool apart from its competition is dedicated to one genre of video games. All the tools and commands are tuned for RPGs, making it one of the best tools in the industry for these specific types of games. Its slogan is "powerful enough for a developer, simple enough for a child, and versatile enough for any platform," promising ease of use despite skillset and experience. Games built using the RPG Maker engine can be created or played on virtually any platform.
Staying ahead of trends, technological advancements, and customer behavior are the drivers of success. Remaining competitive and relevant in an industry that's constantly evolving requires adaptability. Hiring a software development company can carry the brunt of the burden, providing expertise on the most suitable solutions and tools for the scope of your project; and access to software outside of your budget. The companies that win in 2023 will be agile, experienced, and efficient development teams.
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