The online gaming industry has seen explosive growth over the last 20 years. According to Statista, the video gaming market reached a staggering value of $138bn in 2021, with the online casino segment accounting for $70bn of that grand total.
So how is it that millions of people in different countries across the world are flocking in droves to this new, digitally-mediated pastime?
The COVID-19 crisis certainly had an impact on the uptake of online games. With millions of people quarantined at home and seeking to combat loneliness and anxiety, professional services giant Deloitte found:
“Since the onset of the crisis, video gaming activities have accelerated considerably—up to 75% by some measures. In our COVID-19 survey, 29% of US consumers say they are more likely to use their free time to play a video game than watch a video. (…) 7% subscribed to a video gaming service for the first time during the crisis [and] nearly one-half of US consumers have participated in some form of video gaming activity since the crisis began. For Millennials, it’s 69%, and for Gen Z, it’s 75%.”
It’s pretty evident from this that more and more people are discovering online gaming, especially when emergency social restrictions prevent free socialization. Covid has shown that the claim that digital technology has confined people inside solitary digital bubbles is only partially true: far from keeping people apart, it’s helped bring isolated people together. Multiplayer video games, like live online casino games, turn out to be, for the most part, highly enjoyable social activities.
While Covid has played a significant part in gaming’s surging popularity, it’s not the only factor. So, too, have expertly compiled third-party investigation and review sites that provide reliable, expert information on, say, the best brand new casinos coming online.
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Even so, these factors, though significant, don’t wholly account for the gaming industry’s spectacular growth over the last two decades. Emerging technology is playing a big part in this trend, too.
The fact is that people no longer play exclusively on consoles or desktop PCs as they did in the 1990s and early 2000s. Mobile platforms are now massively popular across the globe, prompting game developers to focus their ingenuity on crafting a rapidly-expanding repertoire of luxuriously smooth-action, smartphone-friendly games boasting the highest-quality graphics.
Unlike the early days of gathering a few friends to play console games offline, today’s gamers are opting for multiplayer games online, linking up with exponentially-rising numbers of friends, family, and strangers alike, all of whom are by ‘word-of-mouth’ spreading their enthusiasm for gaming among their own family and friends.
Gamers are also linking up with one another on streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube to show off their gaming prowess (and take part in lively commentary). It’s not uncommon for a player to find 2,000 to 3,000 logging into their channel every day.
What this boils down to is that proliferating platforms are generating greater exposure to video games. And that means that people are discovering, in unprecedented numbers, the inherently enjoyable and social dimensions of gaming.