Gaming is set to emerge as the next dominant technology platform much the way search engines, mobile phones and social networks redefined industries in previous decades, says Michael Wolf, co-founder and chief executive of consulting firm Activate Inc.
Some games are transforming into digital hubs that offer people an array of services once only possible in real life, according to Mr. Wolf. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated gaming’s popularity, with overall time spent gaming rising by 29% during the outbreak, according to Activate.
People are increasingly using gaming platforms to view virtual concerts, for messaging, gambling, dating and even virtual celebrations of weddings and birthdays, Activate found. The firm predicts the consumer gaming industry will reach a value of $198 billion by 2024, not including sales from hardware and devices, augmented reality, virtual reality and advertising.
“We’re about to see the videogame wars,” Mr. Wolf said. The trend is one of several he spoke about during a presentation Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal’s virtual WSJ Tech Live conference.
The industry is turning from selling individual games to offering subscription services, with Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. among the companies offering gaming subscriptions and competing with major players such as Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. Activate found that 58% of gamers use or intend to use gaming subscription services, while 38% use or intend to use cloud gaming services. Mr. Wolf predicted a wave of mergers and acquisitions involving gaming and tech companies.
Gaming will also connect industries, he said. About 22% of people who bought their first virtual-reality headsets this year did so during the virus outbreak, Activate reported, with most users intending them for videogames. The firm said spending by U.S. consumers and businesses on virtual and augmented-reality products would grow eightfold between now and 2024 to $19.8 billion that year.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at [email protected]
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