2014 is almost finished and we at Xsolla like to have an annual industry review post where we’ll examine the major trends, events and statistics of the Game Industry over the last year.
The Console Front:
Last year both Sony and Microsoft released their next gen platforms of the PS4 and Xbox One respectively and this was the year that many gamers were hoping for games to show off the power of the consoles. However the most anticipated exclusive titles such as BloodBourne are set to be released in 2015.
After pushing the Kinect so heavily for the Xbox One, Microsoft is finally releasing versions that don’t have it and have dropped the price down to $399 to better compete with the PS4.
Nintendo has made some interesting hardware reveals this year. Starting at E3 with the announcement of Amiibo — figures that can be bought and interact with games for bonus features. This product seems to be Nintendo’s answer to Disney’s Infinity series and the Skylanders line.
Recently Nintendo announced an upgrade to the 3DS currently titled “The New 3DS.” This new model boasts more powerful hardware, Amiibo functionality, additional shoulder triggers and an analog nub. The upgraded hardware is being promoted alongside Nintendo porting the hit Wii game: Xenoblade Chronicles to the new 3DS. There have not been any announcements yet regarding upgrades or changes to the Wii-U anytime soon.
Moving on to the PC, this was the year of seeing if big kickstarter and early access projects were a success and things have been mixed on this front. And we also saw some big news when it comes to companies being bought.
The PC Market:
Hardware and Industry:
The PC saw several big news pieces this year. On the technology front, the news that surprised everyone was Oculus VR being bought by Facebook for two billion dollars. Since the acquisition, Oculus VR is working hard on new versions of the developer’s kit and recent news pieces point to a MSRP between 200 and 400 dollars.
It was also announced recently that Markus “Notch” Persson, the owner of Mojang and creator of Minecraft has sold both to Microsoft for two billion dollars. What this means for Mojang’s other title — Scrolls and Markus’ future plans are currently up in the air.
This year saw some of the big names on kickstarter back in 2012 finally released and some new developers who managed to succeed. Red Hook Games with the Darkest Dungeon started the year off with an impressive kickstarter which many people felt was one of the best put together campaigns on the platform.
Despite having successful kickstarters and early access campaigns, Doublefine has not been doing so well in the news lately. Earlier this year it was revealed that they ran out of money despite going well over their campaign’s goals and had to split Broken Age into two parts. And their first early access game — Spacebase DF-9 is being pushed out of alpha into release next month with a lot of its planned features removed.
Planetary Annihilation was released recently and has had mixed reviews. With the game’s scale and potential seen as a plus, however technical issues and design complaints bringing it down. Wasteland 2 was just released at the time of this post and we don’t know how well it’s doing.
Moving on, sadly there have been more controversies involving the Game Industry this year.
Continuing from last year, there have been more discussions regarding the Game Industry’s stance on gender equality and diversity. Following the release of Anita Sarkessian’s latest Tropes vs. Women video which looks at tropes against women in the Game Industry, there was an increase in threats and hacks against several women in the Industry. Besides Anita, developer Zoe Quinn who made the game Depression Quest was attacked following unconfirmed rumors.
The whole debacle has been dubbed “Gamergate” and has taken very ugly turns which we will not report about on Xsolla. The only thing we will mention about it is that the FBI has finally been called in due to the escalation in threats and hopefully things will begin to die down.
Part of the reason of the greater call in diversity, comes from news about the changing demographics which we’ll talk about next.
Every year sites like the ESA collect important data about the Game Industry and we want to share some of them with you.
In terms of popularity, 59% of Americans now play video games with 51% of households owning a dedicated console. Smartphone and wireless usage has gone up 22 and 37 percent respectively since 2012. The average age of a gamer is 31 years old and women make up 48 percent of the market. The big demographic shift would be the fact that women over the age of 18 are a bigger demographic than boys 18 and younger with the stats being 36 to 17 percent respectively.
The social game market has increased in popularity 55 percent between 2012 and 2013. Not only that but social games are now the most popular type of game to play online with 30 percent of the market. As a contrast, persistent multiplayer universes such as MMOs are at 11 percent. This is interesting as MMOs were for the last decade one of the most hotly contested genres.
While sales data for 2014 is still being calculated, we do have some numbers from last year. The most popular video game genre was action, making up 31.9 percent of total sales. The number one video game was Grand Theft Auto 5 and Starcraft 2’s expansion was the number one PC game in terms of units sold. It will be interesting to see just what were the most popular games this year considering the changes in demographic.
Since 2014 isn’t over yet, we’re going to wrap up this post by talking about some of the big name games that are left to come out this year.
Big Games to End the Year With:
Nintendo has several games set to come out soon with Super Smash Brothers being the first time the series comes to the handheld and the Wii U version coming later this year. Bayonetta 2 is one of a few high profile third party game that is also set to come out for the Wii-U in November.
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, the latest game in the series will also come out in November. The latest game in the Dragon Age series, Dragon Age Inquisition is due out in November and Farcry has their fourth game due out around that time as well.
On the PC exclusive front, Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth and Blizzard’s World of Warcraft expansion: Warlords of Draenor look to improve their respective brands. And there are a lot more games set to be released between now and the end of the year.