Home Health Video games change so as not to end up like dinosaurs

Video games change so as not to end up like dinosaurs

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In 2020 the changes came for many entertainment sectors, but there is one that has always changed its skin with a certain ease and that of video games, which is now in the umpteenth phase of transition.

If once the console was in the bedroom of the youngest, for some years she moved into the living room, has become an entertainment hub and video games often have to compete for our attention with a thousand other things. And so here is yet another change for a world that has long seen the mobile platform excel.

The development of the sector has always been defined by two major poles: the technological one and the monetary one. Throughout history, video games have been created following the technology available at that time, which influenced their expressive abilities and sensory aspects, but also the economic model that allowed their realization. In arcades they were successful hit and run titles in which the plot was written on a handkerchief and meant to offer a challenge that would consume tokens.

The arrival of computers has brought with it the appearance of games that are less spectacular graphically, but very profound as a narrative, because they no longer depended on the coin inserted in the cabinet. From the Nes onwards, the arrival of the consoles it saw the arrival of a transition period in which we looked at what was going on in arcades, because it was what the public loved, but then the industry took its own path and filed away the past.

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The race to the pockets of gamers
More or less since the arrival of the first PlayStation, the dominant model has been that of games sold at full price, without too many frills. There was a game system with some multi-platform and exclusive valuable titles: you bought the game and after playing it you kept or traded it. With the arrival of the Internet came patches, paid add-ons and in 2007 the iPhone opened a new front unexpected for the sector, that of mobile titles, of cheap (if not free) games where you paid little for small benefits.

A business model that for a while also coexisted on social networks (how can we forget Farmville and the whole wave of social games?), and which quickly went from niche to dominant status. Because not everyone has an Xbox, one PlayStation or a PC to play, but everyone has a phone and touchscreens are much more accessible than gamepads. And everyone is willing to spend a few bucks over time rather than 50, 60 or even 80 euros all together. Especially if the video game is structured to always ask us for money and stimulate ours desire to move forward.

The latest Iidea report shows that in 2020 the global video game market reached a value of $ 135.8 billion with an increase supported by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the arrival of new consoles and other innovations. By 2025 the industry is expected to record annual growth of 10.2% worldwide and, in this context, Italy shows one of the highest annual growth rates (+ 10.6%), starting from a turnover of approximately 1.7 billion dollars. In Italy 61% of those who play even occasionally do so with a smartphone, in China this percentage rises by 90%: Japanese and American consoles are struggling to get there too, let alone the unobtainable PlayStation 5.

The choices of Electronic Arts and Ubisoft
And so here is the market changes again. Indeed, to tell the truth he never stopped doing it: i video games on PCs and consoles, while maintaining constant sales volumes, they were overtaken between 2015 and 2016 by the mobile sector and in many cases they tried to adapt by proposing similar economic models: more and more microtransactions and more and more free games, like Fortnite, which everyone can play without spending a cent, but where the skin market is thriving, like Genshin Impact.

In recent years, thanks also to the pandemic, these processes have benefited from a further acceleration: this can be seen from the reports of the fiscal year just ended. For Electronic Arts, 2020 was an excellent year, which brought a turnover of 5.6 billion dollars: it is in line with that of past years, but a good 4.6 billion come from microtransactions, especially from the much discussed player packages and objects of the Fifa Ultimate Team mode present in Fifa 21.

But the most interesting data of this transition provides it Ubisoft that, while having declared that it intends to continue engaging in great single player games, is radically changing the policies for the games of the future. After the financial results presented at the latest investor meeting, the company gave a taste of what the next strategy could be: “We are aiming to create high-level, trendy free-to-play experiences like our games. Triple A – explained Frédérick Duguet, Cfo of Ubisoft – We are taking a step forward compared to the model that saw us publish 3-4 big titles a year. This does not mean that we change our development plans, but that we are expanding them ”.

To weigh on this choice is probably not only the success of Fortnite or Apex Legends, but also that of Call of Duty, especially the free Warzone mode, which from a support game for the main title could quickly become the most important part of the franchise. The point is that perhaps the commitment to a great single player game, which concentrates the proceeds in a short period, or a multiplayer which lasts a year or so, in some cases it is no longer profitable for such large companies.

Not to mention that often the large productions require you to bet on the safe side, perhaps with yet another sequel: new productions are complex, many aspects can go wrong, with the public and investors pressing for release, as those of Cd Projekt know well after the Cyberpunk 2077 mess. Better to bet on a free title, powered by a constant cash flow given by microtransactions and updated over time.

A model that in some ways refers to the old World of Warcraft-style online role-playing games, but updated for very different genres, such as first or third person shooters: the first step of this change will be Heartland, a probably free video game set in the beautiful narrative universe of The Division.

This does not mean that we will no longer have titoli single player come Resident Evil Village, which among other things is selling very well, but that those games are no longer enough for an increasingly profitable sector but also increasingly expensive, fragmented and complex, where the public is demanding and attention is constantly prey to a thousand other stimuli , from TV series to programs on Twitch, passing through online gaming and numerous other activities.

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A change in order not to become extinct
In short, if once the consoles competed for the living room, today that war has moved to all the entertainment platforms: there is always our time at stake, but also our money, possibly collected every month. If computers and consoles were dinosaurs, we could say that the mobile “meteor” did not lead them to extinction, but it certainly reduced their resources in favor of new, smaller and more adaptable species.

Now we have to understand if in the next ten years only fossils will remain and the consoles will go to keep company with cabinets in the homes of those who love retrogaming. Unlikely, but this sector has accustomed us to many surprises.


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