We are about to head into the games industry’s busy period. The holiday season is regularly a time for major releases as developers and publishers try to appeal to all of the shoppers out buying new consoles or to pick up exciting new games to play during the holiday time they have off work.
But before we get to all that, let’s recap the gaming year so far. We’ve already had major gaming releases such as God of War, Monster Hunter World and the Shadow of the Colossus remake. The gaming year so far has already taught us a huge amount about the state of the games industry, including what makes a successful game and how developers and publishers are making their money.
Battle Royale is Boss
In March 2017, PUBG Corp (then Bluehole) found success when it released battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in Steam Early Access. Then, in September 2017, Epic Games released standalone free-to-play title Fortnite Battle Royale. Although the battle royale genre began to take off in 2017, it has really come into its own in 2018. For example, the mobile release of Fortnite Battle Royale is making millions of dollars a day and the Xbox One version of PUBG continues to go from strength to strength. With many other developers making their own battle royale takes (as well as carbon copy clones), it’s unclear when this game genre is going to fizzle out.
Freebies are Still King
And, speaking of Fortnite, free-to-play games are also king. Many of the year’s biggest titles, including Warframe, World of Tanks, War Thunder, and H1Z1 have all succeeded because of their free-to-play status. We’ve even seen free-to-play mechanics adopted by other, premium industries such as online casino. The Betfair casino promotion, for instance, draws players in with free spins on popular games like Stars Ablaze, allowing players to try before they buy, so to speak. The ability to get bonuses casino games and try before you buy is the same method used by F2P titles with their daily log-in bonuses, even if the industry’s business model is altogether different.
Twitch is the Tastemaker
It used to be that a strong review of a game or a showing on the E3 stage was all that was required to get a game to sell gangbusters but in 2018, we saw once again how much has changed. The new tastemaker in town is Twitch, the Amazon-owned live streaming platform that allows players to broadcast their games to viewers and to interact with these viewers. More people watch video game streams and recorded videos than watch Netflix and HBO and it’s this influence that has helped games like Fortnite, PUBG, and Rainbow Six Siege, as well as indie hits such as Punch Club, Golf It!, and Getting Over It find and engage an audience of fans (and potential customers).
In 2019, the games industry is likely to change again. It is an ever-shifting thing and with so much money involved, trends are often a result of which investor is funding what. But for now, these are some of the biggest industry trends to take notice of.