The Rise (and Fall) of Online Games
Anyone who plays games on PC likely has, at one point or another, played a multiplayer game. Gaming has become a naturally social activity, drawing people from all places and walks of life together for a variety of reasons. Indeed, according to stat aggregator Statista, multiplayer-only games dominate the top 10 played PC games in June of 2015, at least via hours tracked by Raptr. Of the two that aren't, The Witcher 3 and GTA V, only The Witcher 3 is exclusively single player, and even then, it doesn't come close to the domination put forth by League of Legends, which captured a staggering 21.92% of all hours tracked by the platform.
It then comes as no surprise that multiplayer games are expected to capture even more time over the next four years, as predicted by TechNavio's analysts. Though I don't have access to the report itself, they do predict nearly a 12% growth in the online games market yearly from 2014 to 2019. This comes on top of the inconceivable amount of money already being produced by multiplayer games, with South Korean shooter Crossfire nearly making one billion USD in 2013 alone.
Of course, it's not all good news on the horizon. Chinese internet behemoth Tencent, who, incidentally, wholly owns League of Legends developer Riot Games and has a roughly 48% stake in Epic Games, is finding itself struggling to capture more of the saturated PC gaming market, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Though a 17% growth in the user base is still impressive, considering the size of the online gaming population, it was down from 28% in the first quarter. Growth in smartphone games slowed to 11% in the second quarter, down from the impressive 82% growth. Revenue is up however, showing that there's still money to be made in the current userbase.
How can we expect online PC gaming to evolve, even as people who are already playing games likely aren't going to stop doing so anytime soon? This might take place through more creative revenue generation strategies, or perhaps through new products. It's hard to see a successor to Dota 2, CS:GO, or even League of Legends any time soon, even as players leave for other games from time to time. Game development fads rise and fall all the time, and even as we seem to have been given a glut of survival-themed games, it's near impossible to see where the online games market will evolve next. Variety is essential in order to keep your consumers happy, and it will be interesting to see how these large game developers adapt to the burgeoning online gaming market in the future.