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Game Industry Trends 2022: Millions more players, billions more streams

February 3, 2022
Jack Buser

Director, Game Industry Solutions, Google Cloud

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in TechPulse Belgium, where Jack Buser, Google Cloud’s Director of Game Industry Solutions, shared his trends for the industry this year.

The year 2022 will hold many surprises (with a few already dropping!), but there's one near certainty: By this time next year there will be millions more gamers worldwide. It's thanks to the industry's little-noted technology growth drivers, which are getting stronger. 

Games are no longer a niche hobby; it’s global, mainstream entertainment. There were 3.1 billion gamers worldwide in 2020. It's estimated that by 2024 there will be another 500 million. With a global population of 7.7 billion, that's nearly half the planet. Revenues in 2021 may reach $175 billion—likely more than movies, music, and books combined. 

It's a strength unique to the games industry, driven by the way its creators deploy new technology. Advances we see in everything from pricing and emerging markets, to backend computing and delivery suggests it will grow from here, on things like artificial intelligence and planet-scale networks.

Games forever, game better

It’s no surprise that videogames have become a huge business. Playing games is one of our deepest human expressions. There is a 4,500 year old board game that people still play, a testimony to the human love of testing cleverness, honing reactions, building trust, or just enlivening a day.

Video games do all that and for decades game makers have taken the most cutting-edge computing tech to make things better. We've seen electronic ping pong become shooting asteroids, to simple (yet iconic) 2D sprites evolve into believable, expressive 3D characters, all leading to today's immersive worlds hosting tens of millions of players worldwide.

There's more to come. I work at technology's cutting edge for games, offering the world's leading game creators access to powerful cloud computing, a low-latency global network, Machine Learning and AI, and much more. As usual, game innovators are taking up all these tools, building new narratives, new ways to play, new markets, and new jaw-dropping moments.

And game creators aren’t just thinking about players; they’re also thinking about viewers. More and more people are watching eSports, and creators are using the games medium to engage their viewers in increasingly immersive ways.

Streaming like never before 

AI and ML are sharpening games and attracting new players in other ways. These technologies increasingly power everything from network performance to global player matching. The delicate but essential work of encouraging newcomers and discouraging bad actors, optimizing monetization, or building and scaling up new player environments.

Another important area we're seeing cloud tools being put to use is in coordinating the workflows of global teams of developers. It's not just a question of building faster anymore, but of collaborating and responding more effectively. The distributed work trends that featured so strongly during the pandemic had already featured in much of the game industry, increasingly it's an industry standard. This will likely mean even faster and more diverse game development, addressing the needs of new markets where we're seeing double-digit growth.

Tools like cloud streaming, 5G, and edge computing are likely to accelerate the use of Game Streaming, Augmented Reality, and other types of immersive gameplay. If my metaverse doesn't have games, count me out! We're looking at some exciting new developments in coming months with some major industry players. Stay tuned.

A big year for the games industry

As a premier provider of solutions, tools and services to games companies, our engineering job is complex and global. Fortunately, our mission is simple: Help game companies transform to meet new global opportunities with planet scale solutions. Technology has brought the gaming industry to astonishing heights, and is the perfect compliment to great storytelling and creative ingenuity. 

As a decades-long industry veteran, I've never been more impressed with what technology can do for our industry. Looking past 2022, when we'll see more compute, more AI, more AR, and more innovation around healthy and exciting game play, there is just one near certainty: More growth.

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