A billion new players are set to transform the gaming industry

Rune Fisker

There are now more than 2.5 billion active gamers around the world. That’s a billion more than just five years ago. In March 2019, Fortnite, one of the most popular games ever, had over 250 million registered users. In 2020, populations in game worlds will increase as the global population becomes more comfortable with gaming.

The majority of the world’s gamers play using one of more than 4.7 billion active mobile devices, and even the most affordable device is increasingly able to access sophisticated multiplayer games. Games provide some of the richest and most direct ways to connect people, and increasingly the value created for players is not just social but financial.

In Roblox, an online-game toolkit with 100 million users, people can make real-world money building and sharing games. In the last year alone, 2 million users have created more than 15 million games within Roblox and earned $100 million. These range from millionaire game streamers to e-sports professionals, from Fortnite tutors to virtual craftspeople making and selling items or experiences inside games.

In 2020, this online world and economy will grow as games leverage the potential of the cloud by drawing on the power of multiple cloud servers to create and enrich a single shared environment. By offloading the work of a game element on to a dedicated server, for example, a developer can enhance a familiar game genre with more and smarter computer-controlled allies and enemies, without limiting the computational power available for other parts of the game.

Gaming is now looking to its “next billion”. In 2020 and beyond, game players will come significantly from the global east and south and will transform how games are made and consumed. China is, in many ways, more prepared for this than the western games industry, with a design philosophy oriented towards mass participation and engagement.

This line between games and the real world will blur both ways: governments and militaries are increasingly discussing the need for “single synthetic environments” – advanced simulators able to represent the real world in sufficient detail to offer a new level of simultaneous, highly detailed insight for decision-making and training.

Cost and complexity have been obstacles to this ambitious vision for training in complex, potentially critical and hard to simulate environments. Now game engines and game technology are emerging as a solution, with the necessary scale and number of simultaneous interactions provided by complex computation.

The technologies that are changing video games will start to be applied to potentially massive effect in the real world. Next year, games will start to feel more like real worlds than ever.

Herman Narula is the CEO of Improbable Worlds Limited

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