Boomtown Bingo Looks at the Online Gaming World Through a Comparative View
For people over the age of 40, the concept of “online gaming” probably seems strange. Why would anyone choose to spend hours of his/her life glued to a machine, interacting with others virtually instead of face-to-face? But for many, online gaming is a legitimate and enjoyable past-time.
Players can compete against someone sitting next to them on the couch or in a different country. As our world becomes increasingly digitally connected, online gaming presents an engaging way to meet people, learn about different cultures, date, and even make money. You can try this out to get an idea of the play options available.
There were approximately 2.3 billion active gamers worldwide in 2018 or over one-third of the world's population. The five countries with the largest numbers of gamers are China, The United States, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. In the US, over 60% of the population plays online games. Of those, close to 45% are women, and 29% are between the ages of 18 to 35 years old.
PC vs. Console vs. Mobile
The term “online gaming” encompasses a variety of games, platforms and methods of play. Originally, the only option available was a PC computer hooked up to the internet. Now, people can choose between a traditional PC, a console such as Xbox or PlayStation or a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Each platform has benefits and drawbacks and many gamers will commit to a particular platform that provides the experience that they seek.
PC games tend to focus more on encouraging long-term engagement, though complicated design choices and storylines as well as multi-player capabilities. These are the games where players interact with others across time zones, demographics and cultures, to forge relationships. Console gaming, on the other hand, lends itself toward a shorter usage time frame, such as decompressing for a couple of hours after work or a weekend tournament with friends.
Then there is mobile gaming. The first couple of generations of mobile games couldn't hold a candle to PC and console offerings. This was due to their inferior graphics capabilities so focused on simple logic and word games, but avid software development has transformed this platform into a force to be reckoned with.
Two factors that have contributed to the mobile's surge in popularity are convenience and the ability to attract new audiences. Gamers who use mobile devices can pause and revisit their games throughout the day, as their schedule permits.
The convenience factor also attracts new participants who normally wouldn't invest the time to learn the complexities of PC gaming or invest money in a console. They are already in possession of the technology to play these new mobile games, making it much easier to give them a try without spending much money.
Free to Play and Pay to Play Options
Revenue generation occurs in two primary forms; “free to play” and “pay to play.” Whereas PC and console platforms have traditionally primarily offered the “pay to play” option, meaning that you must make an initial investment (usually the actual software) to participate, mobile gaming relies more on “free to play.”
This concept allows users to install and play the game, or at least parts of it, without investing any money. Depending on how a game is structured, players may eventually have to pay to access higher levels or to avoid in-game advertising. Another common way that developers make money is through offering “micro-transactions,” otherwise known as in-app purchases.
Money: spent and made
Online gaming is a revenue powerhouse. Regardless of the platform, all games are designed to encourage players to spend money in one way or another. Globally, gamers were projected to spend close to $140 billion on games last year, with mobile gaming accounting for more than half of online revenues.
A 2016 report broke down how much each region of the world contributes to gaming revenue: Asia generates 63%; Europe, 17.8%; North America, 12.4%; Latin America, 5%; and the rest of the world, make up the remainder. There are even people who play professionally; they are known as “Esports” players and can make millions of dollars a year.
What does the future hold?
The future looks bright for online gaming. As this form of entertainment gains further acceptance in mainstream society, and more people jump on the bandwagon, the possibilities are endless.
Developers are continually pushing imagination boundaries and utilizing cutting-edge technology to incorporate the best and most innovative concepts into games. With such an avid fan base and so much potential for revenue generation, the sky is the (virtual) limit in online gaming.