E3 has come and gone, and Gamescom is today’s hotness. Still, the ESA just released a bunch of facts and figures about this year’s E3, and they show some interesting trends in gaming. For better or worse, gaming is more global, social, and mobile than ever before. Here are 5 ways that E3 facts and figures show us where gaming is headed.
Game Marketers Are Savvy
E3 hosted 52,200 journalists, professionals, analysts, and miscellaneous game fans this year. A small number of these attendees (500) were so-called “prosumers.” This marketing term has been around for years, but today it’s being used to refer to customers who love a particular brand or hobby and spread that love around the Internet. These are the folks who post unboxing or announcement reaction videos on Youtube, host popular Twitch streams, or run gaming-related Twitter and Instagram feeds with thousands of followers.
Marketers love prosumers. After all, who is a safer choice to have talking about your game: a professional reviewer who might just decide it’s terrible and give it a low score, or a game fan who is just super-happy to have been invited to the party? And what happens when game companies start paying popular social media personalities to cover their games in a positive manner? Looks like an end run around the fact that traditional gaming sites have been implementing stricter conflict of interest rules.
Gaming Augments Reality
I have to admit, the on-stage demonstration of the Microsoft HoloLens during which a whole Minecraft world appeared on a table caught my attention. I hadn’t been terribly impressed with gaming-related augmented reality until this year, mostly because I’ve found Nintendo’s attempts at it to be fairly lame. No, I don’t feel like I have Pokemon in my living room just because they show up on the dimly lit 3DS camera screen.
This year, E3 hosted 27 augmented and virtual reality exhibitors this year, and the promise of both kinds of immersive gaming will be realized for ordinary gamers very soon. There will be plenty of bumps along the road, I’m sure, but I’m hoping that creative developers will come up with some amazing games that intelligently integrate themselves with the real world. I know horror fans in particular are salivating at the possibilities. Let’s just hope that, “I tripped and broke my HoloLens” isn’t the new, “I threw my Wiimote through the TV screen.”
Gaming is Mobile
Sorry, everybody who hates mobile gaming. It’s here to stay, and it’s making a few lucky companies fabulously rich. There were 74 mobile game exhibitors at E3 this year, hoping to grab enough attention to get people to download their games off our increasingly crowded mobile marketplaces.
I feel like mobile gaming is starting to settle into its role as just another part of the gaming industry, not a monolith that will swallow the entire thing. We’re seeing fewer articles about how mobile gaming is going to take over (because that idea has always been ridiculous) and are finally seeing some deeper, more traditional gaming experiences appear on mobile as gamers tire of the mean-spirited cash grabs that companies like Zynga like to flog. Maybe someday “mobile gaming” will just mean “gaming you can enjoy on the go” rather than “a horrible morass of freemium games that get cloned into infinity.”
Gaming is Social
This year’s E3 fact sheet was jubilant about how much E3 was discussed and enjoyed via social media. It shouts that E3 spawned a record 6.3 million Twitter posts, 7.5 million Instagram likes, and was watched by more than 21 million people via Twitch. Today’s young gamers have been connected to the ‘net for their entire lives, and even us older curmudgeons appreciate being able to snark over the press conferences with our online buddies.
I might not quite get the allure of watching other people play games instead of playing them myself, but social media does spawn a lot of fun conversation, is a great way to meet people to game with, and sometimes leads to great projects like Twitch Plays Pokemon or Summer Games Done Quick.
Gaming is Global
2015’s E3 attendees came from 109 countries, showing us that gaming is more global than ever before. I think that’s the best possible trend for our hobby, because not only do we get to befriend people from all over the world when we game online, but games themselves are being made in far more places than just the traditional hotbeds of Japan and the USA. One third of the game companies exhibiting at E3 were from outside the United States.
I’m particularly interested in three regions where the game industry is growing. Now that consoles are fully legal in China, I expect to see some interesting exports that will allow us to see what China can make beyond poorly-translated free-to-play MMOs. The indie scene is growing in the Middle East, offering us glimpses of cool games based on the history and folklore of the region. Finally, big South American countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile are playing host to young, enthusiastic game development communities. As a big fan of colorful games, I can’t wait to see more titles inspired by South American art.
What do you think? Are you inspired by the direction that modern gaming is going, or are you worried about the industry’s future? What are you seeing from E3 and Gamescom that excites you most? Let us know in the comments section!