Why more people play games than ever before

With so many different categories within the gaming world and ever-increasing ways of playing a whole host of these games, it’s no wonder that there’s been a sharp spike in the number of people who actively play games, whether it is on their console, laptop, PC, smartphone or tablet. 

The fact that there are now so many options to play games is one of the key reasons why more people are playing games than ever before. The accessibility of these games, the low cost and the world-class designs are some of the components we will dive further into today to explain why games are more popular than ever, and why this trend is continuing to grow. 

The evolution of gaming

Back in the 1980s, the idea of a home console was still a long way off, and millions of people would frequent arcades to play games such as Pac-Man. The logistics and costs of owning your own console were still a long way off. However, the number of people who were going to arcades and spending a lot of money playing games there was an early indicator of the promise of the possibility of an affordable gaming console. Back then, the word gaming was precise to this type of entertainment, and few other gaming avenues were available.

Casino games in physical casinos were a big hit. Of course, the casinos in Vegas have barely broken stride and continue to make large profits, regardless of their economic circumstances. For decades, Vegas monopolised the casino industry until the advent of online gaming, which completely transformed how people play roulette, blackjack and poker. Many gamblers now believe that the best casino table games are online, as there are more avenues and more types of gaming available, not to mention the critical selling point of convenience. 

The millennium and beyond

Once consoles became affordable for millions of people during the economic boom of the 1990s and 2000s throughout North America and Europe, a colossal number of people became part of the gaming revolution, and the industry continued to expand at a breakneck pace. Not only did the console gaming industry experience a seismic expansion during this period, but it also coincided with the rise of high-speed, widespread internet access. 

So, as the decade progressed and online console gaming took off, this again continued to snowball, resulting in millions of people relaxing with online gaming, forming friendships with people they met online, and competing in esports tournaments, which are professional video game tournaments, with prize jackpots in the millions of dollars.

The rise of esports hasn’t been the only advancement over the last 10 years, smartphones have continued to develop in sophistication and some of the most popular games in the world are now mobile games, which are free to play. The organic growth of this market has been profound, which is another contributing factor.

There hasn’t been a swell of advertising or people forced to play these games in a bid to market them. It’s mostly organic, word-of-mouth advertising which has propelled multiple esports leagues to a point where the top tournaments now play in front of sold-out crowds in arenas with millions more watching online. Many of these gamers start out playing at home, earning money and soon joining the professional ranks, as they can easily exhibit their skills to a global audience online without leaving the comfort of their home.

League of Legends is the best example of this, with millions of active users per month, despite being released nearly 15 years ago, and it is also one of the biggest esports tournaments in terms of size and scope. League of Legends has become so popular that celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Fred Durst and Simon Pegg are all reportedly huge fans of the game, which helps boost its popularity among everyday gamers.

Convenience is king

The most significant factor causing more people to play games than ever is the added convenience gamers benefit from. Returning to what we said earlier in the article, back in the 1980s, retro gaming arcades were the only place video gamers could get together to play their favourite games. 

However, that landscape started to shift in the 1990s. Today, there are specific gaming mobile phones, PC displays, high-tech screens and a range of specialist gaming equipment such as keyboards that are tailor-made for gamers, meaning gamers can have a world-class setup without even having to leave their gaming room. 

If we compare that to the retro days of gaming, where gamers would have to take rolls of coins down to the arcade and spend time and money travelling to and from, the convenience level is now entirely in another dimension. Convenience rears its head in other ways too. Although it’s practically impossible to see past just how convenient the current home game setup can be, designed precisely to the player’s specifications, these setups can be expensive. They can be out of the range of people operating with a smaller budget.

Free games and greater accessibility 

Convenience for some gamers boils down to the fact a lot of these games are free or that you can get plenty of mileage for the price you pay. For instance, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas retailed at around £40 back in 2005, and you’d get a lot of play time out of it due to the expansive nature of the map. However, move down the timeline to 2013, when GTA 5 came out, and although this game cost £60, there have been so many updates to keep the online game fresh that it essentially means people have been playing Grand Theft Auto and its new versions, for over a decade.

However, you can go one better with games such as League of Legends, as we have already alluded to, which is a completely free-to-play game. There are dozens of free games you can play, and the sliding scale of costs coming down has been pivotal in bringing millions more people to the market. While the idea of this would have been unheard of 20 years ago, as the landscape has changed so much, with so many people now using their mobile phones to play free games, the in-game adverts and add-ons can generate enormous profit margins that more than make up for the initial costs of the game. 

Increased range and freedom of choice 

In any market, a greater range of choice often ensures more people are interested in the product. Gaming has gone from arcades to expensive consoles to free games you can download on smartphones that you carry around 24/7. Due to the explosion in this market, there are now hundreds of new gaming genres that didn’t exist 20 years ago, and that provides plenty of opportunity for people to explore games that they feel might be best suited to their gaming preferences.

More free games mean more choice too. If you need to fork out £40 every time you like the look of a new game, you aren’t likely to want to spend hundreds of pounds to find a game you like. However, if these games are free, which many of the best mobile games are, you have the luxury of browsing many different titles, giving you a much more expansive freedom of choice and an excellent range to select from.

Will the trend slow down?

This scale has been increasing since the 1980s, and there are no signs of it showing down. With esports leagues posting record levels of profits and Apple becoming the first $3 trillion company due to the colossal success of their iPhone, there’s nothing to suggest that these markets are in danger of experiencing a dip. 

As Sony and Microsoft are putting brand-new high-spec consoles on the market, with a whole range of featured games to go alongside them, and with the emergence of new potentially colossal markets such as India, the gaming sector could quickly become one of the most significant sectors anywhere online within the next 10 to 15 years. India has the most extensive global population, and many economists predict that by 2030, its economy will surpass Germany and Japan. 

Despite the severe poverty that is still prevalent in the country, this economic boom could bring tens of millions of Indians out of poverty, and this means more top-of-the-range smartphones and game console sales as the economy experiences its most considerable growth for over a century. 

Unless there’s a severe economic global incident that brings the whole global economy to a screeching halt, there’s nothing to suggest that these companies will not continue growing with bigger, bolder plans and a whole array of new games consistently coming out to keep us entertained. No doubt there will be a shift in the dynamic of some of the most popular esports tournaments and maybe the way certain games are played, such as a possible move toward VR.

Virtual reality gaming is something Apple has recently put a lot of money into, but it might struggle to find mass adoption due to the expense of the headsets. So, although nobody can say how the industry will shape up in the next 20 years, it’s expected to continue growing at an impressive rate.

Header image credit: Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels

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