Pushing buttons: is it game over for the pandemic boom of gaming? † Spell


dDuring the pandemic, video games have seen an unprecedented boom, while virtually every other cultural sector – from music and nightlife to theater and film – has tanked. While everyone is inside, looking for ways to relieve their boredom and To socialize security, it’s no wonder that the global games market grew from $150 billion in 2019 to $180 billion in 2020 (£). Millions of people bought consoles (the Nintendo Switch in particular saw a huge increase); and some of us who already owned consoles felt that a shiny new PlayStation 5 could, say, ease the pandemic blues for a while. Every facet of gaming, from mobile to consoles, Twitch viewers to concurrent Steam players, was boosted.

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It is therefore not surprising that the gaming industry is now facing a contraction. Growth continued in 2021, to about $190 billion, but market analysts now predict it will decline by a few billion. Game industry revenues are expected to pick up again from 2023, but beyond the pandemic peak.

I see this as a natural correction. People play less and spend less for a variety of reasons – from rising living costs to gaming fatigue after spending many months mostly indoors. Myself, I play significantly less this year, now that I can do other things that I enjoy, like live music and, you know, cuddling my friends. (I have fond memories of the birthday parties and summer gatherings we had in Animal Crossing, but they can feel a bit like a melancholy dream.)

Games are often considered recession-proof, but the industry is not immune to macroeconomic turmoil. A little ebb and flow is natural, even if it puts off those investors hoping to make a quick buck from a craze, whether that’s esports, virtual and augmented reality, free-to-play mobile games, or the latest venture capital money pit, blockchain- gaming. The rest of us needn’t worry: constant mass growth is required, because… capitalism, but it’s unsustainable.

The number of gamers in the world continues to rise as smartphones, PCs and consoles become available to a larger proportion of the world’s population – but that will eventually stop. And if things get back to normal, anyway — and it’s probably another decade or more in the future — it won’t be so bad. The money video games make is one of the least interesting things about them to me. And one day I hope that what looks like… each mainstream TV or radio coverage of video games doesn’t begin by pointing out that they make more money than movies.

It’s interesting to watch though Where the money is in gaming. The console market – PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox – has been pretty stable for over a decade. It is mobile gaming that has fueled the industry’s growth since about 2010, as smartphones multiplied rapidly. Meanwhile, Arcades once generated $40 billion in revenue and now generates zip. Handheld games were once a big part of the market, but have largely disappeared since Nintendo rolled up its home and handheld consoles in the form of the Switch. Analysts now view subscriptions and cloud gaming as the next big shift as they have seen streaming technology transform TV and music. The way people play games has changed a lot in the 50 years since Pong ushered in the video game era – but it’s clear that people pretty much always want to play them, even – or maybe especially – when times are tough.

What to play?

air shifter
air shifter

Developer superstar Yu Suzuki – known for Space Harrier, OutRun and Shenmue in the 80s and 90s – has released a game on Apple Arcade: Air Twister. It’s an arcade shooter that feels like Lylat Wars, Panzer Dragoon, or Rez, the 2000s-style Space Harrier sequel that never was. I don’t recommend this unreservedly – ​​it’s a strange thing to get the hang of – but it’s an interesting curio for anyone who loved the Sega arcade era, and the prog-rock soundtrack is irresistibly bombastic.
Available on: Apple Arcade (iPhone, iPad)
Estimated playing time: 2+ hours

What to read

  • E3 will be back next year – and it will be run by ReedPop, the company that handles PAX and Comic-Con, and owns the games websites Eurogamer and Rock Paper Shotgun. My general reading on this: good news. The ESA, which owns and manages E3, has a history of… variable competency, once accidentally stupefying most of its attendees, and holding the show in the hands of a company that regularly hosts such mega events shows promise. is organizing. Given that the big players (Sony, Nintendo, Xbox) have shown little interest in E3 for some time – much less in the European games show Gamescom despite the more than 350,000 in attendance – it may not matter who is in charge.

  • In this week’s bizarre Elden Ring news, Namco Bandai sent a real sword to a player known for helping people through one of the game’s most terrifying bosses, and also someone completed it on a piano. That last story in particular irritates me. I co-wrote a book about Dark Souls a while ago (I know, I never mention it), and one of my favorite chapters to write was the one about the people who do completely unnecessary and very impressive things, like playing with Guitar Hero controllers, either without ever leveling up, or completely naked (the character, not the player). I love how people can’t help themselves when it comes to coming up with bizarre ways to play already difficult video games.

  • Activision-Blizzard employees protest again, this time to better protect their civil liberties in the face of the terrifying rollback of rights in the US, including access to abortion and gender-affirming health care.

  • Popular Minecraft YouTuber Technoblade sadly passed away recently – he was only 23 and his father posted a heartbreaking latest video to his channel. Minecraft developer Mojang has come up with an in-game tribute to him.

  • PlayStation 5’s next blockbuster God of War: Ragnarok is out on November 9. Well, at least that’s a big game to look forward to before 2023.

Ask block

Today’s question comes from: CregIs the Xbox Series S worth the money?

Before I get into this, can we all take a moment to marvel at how insane the Xbox series’ nomenclature has become? We have the Xbox One, the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S, the Xbox One X, all of which are different. It’s impressively confusing.

Anyway! In a word: yes, it’s worth it. Of GamePass, which gets you every Xbox game you could ever want to play for £10.99 a month, the Xbox Series S is really good value. Its big brother, the Xbox Series X, is really only necessary if you have a screen that can take good advantage of 4K games. You said in your email to me that you don’t care and that you don’t mind downloading or streaming games instead of buying them on disc. You’ll run out of space on the Series S hard drive pretty soon, but as Microsoft’s cloud streaming technology gets better and better, I don’t think that’s going to be much of an issue.

Send me more questions everyone! Even if they are stupid. In reality, mainly if they are stupid.

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