Friday 3 August 2012

The future of gaming

A while back I was having a discussion about the future of PC gaming and there were arguments that it was on the improve due to the release of Starcraft II and the take up of professional gaming in America (it's been huge in South Korea for a long time). However, my argument was not about the amount of money PC games might bring in for development companies, but that the average age of PC gamers was only getting higher. In 2011 the average age reported was 37. That age hadn't changed in 5 years, I.e. in 2006 the average age was about 32. The only conclusion you can draw from this is that it's the same people buying/playing PC games now that bought them 5 years ago. The industry isn't gaining any new customers.

The reasoning behind this 5 years ago was (in my insignificant opinion) the increase in console gaming. The xbox 360 and PS3 had just come out, young 20 somethings would rather sit on the couch and play online against randoms with server side match making / ranking facilities that sony/microsoft made available. Something the PC gaming world severely lacked. Some games implemented it, such as the arena rankings in W.o.W. but it was left up to individual game developers rather than a platform wide system.

The console gaming has now taken a massive drop off, and PC gaming is now smashing consoles in sales. Surely this is due to the outdated hardware of the PS3 et al. But where are these gamers going? Not to the PC, as the average age and sales have not changed much.

Enter mobile gaming. The same mob that did the survey last year (linked above), did the study again this year and decided they had no choice but to start including mobile gaming. As such the average "gamer" age has dropped dramatically, to 30. Little Johnny from grade 5 can't afford $100 for the new modern warfare. But he can afford $1.99 for angry birds. Will mobile gaming mean the death of PC gaming? I highly doubt it, since existing PC gamers aren't going anywhere. But I do worry about the future of PC gaming if all these teens playing "song pop" aren't switching over to guild wars any time soon. In 10 years time, will the average age of a PC gamer be 47?

It's hard to say, but mobile gaming is clearly having an effect on PC gaming, much like console gaming did. 5 years from now will something kill mobile gaming the same way it killed console gaming? Maybe virtual gaming is making a come back, if John Carmack makes it, I'll play it.

In the mean time, grab your console, whack it behind your door cos it's only good for a doorstop, delete your games off your mobile cos they aren't really "games", install Steam and checkout what real games are all about.