The future of video games isn’t cool
The image of a gamer is pretty established by now.
They are young and probably male (or, if they are female, they will have, like, a blue streak in their hair, or something). They will be a little socially awkward, but will clearly be smarter than your average person.
But, they won’t care about anything other than playing video games. They will play them all night, while munching on cheese puffs and chugging large bottles of grape soda before sleeping all day and repeating the process again.
These gamers won’t be interested in simple games either. No, they only play elaborate, shooter games, with controllers that cost more than some people’s cars. Gaming isn’t a hobby. No, it’s a lifestyle and they will embrace it to its fullest.
That’s the image, anyway. And, I’m sure these people exist. However, the reality is probably something closer to my experience gaming.
About 3-4 times a day I grab my iPhone and fire up my favourite distraction for five minutes before getting back to whatever I was doing before. It’s not a lifestyle, nor am I embracing any of the above mentioned cliches.
No, I just like to include a little video games in my day-to-day life. The game I mostly play, Clash Royale, is free to download and makes its profits off of gamers making in-game purchases. It’s a really common business model in the mobile space right now and it speaks to the reality, not the cliches, of the gaming space.
Video games have been around for 40 years now. They aren’t a niche activity.
I play Clash Royale. Your dad might fire up a driving simulator to unwind from work. Even your grandmother might play some weird game with bubbles or something on her phone. This is not a space about awkward boys and girls with blue streaks in their hair anymore.
Most of the attention in gaming goes on the hardcore gamer and the games that appeal to them. That makes sense because that’s the exciting side of the industry. It’s the same idea as people covering professional sport rather than your Sunday League Football team. But, in the same way equipment manufacturers sell a lot more boots to your Sunday League teammates than they do to professional footballers, video game manufactures make more money selling to people that game for 20 minutes a day, not 20 hours.
The Nintendo (TYP: 7974) Switch is bigger than the PlayStation (Sony – TYP: 6758) 5 right now for precisely that reason. And, other companies are looking to cash in.
Take Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) Arcade, the $5 USD a month subscription service. It’s not…cool. By all accounts, it’s a pretty generic offering that will not have any titles that are going to be earth shattering.
But, it’s doing well enough for Apple that it just added another 30 games this year, bringing the total up to close to 200.
No one is going to talk about Apple Arcade games in pop culture, or brag about them to their friends. But, a lot are going to fire them up on the bus. Enough, anyway, that it will be worth Apple’s time to keep the service going. It makes them a little money and, more importantly, keeps users on iPhones, not Androids.
Cool games, games that push the technology and inspire gamers will still get made, of course. But, they’re not what’s going to be important in the next 40 years of the video game industry.
Weird little bubble games your grandmother plays are.