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Game industry to surpass $300bn and 3.8bn players by 2030

The gaming industry is expected to reach a global annual revenue of $300bn and 3.8bn active players by 2030, according to research from Midia.

The gaming industry is the undisputed king of the entertainment farmyard, boasting three times the revenue of music and almost four times that of the silver screen, but how will the lay of the land look by 2030?

Spoiler alert: Gaming will remain firmly on top.

A report from business analytics firm Midia has forecasted that the industry will reach an eye-watering $300bn by the end of the decade, with a global active player-base of over 3.8bn.

Since last year, the number of subscribers to apps like Game Pass, EA Play, and Google Play Pass have increased from 171m to 180m, generating a cool $11.7bn. Looking at the whole pie, however, this is nothing compared to the spending coming from in-game purchases.

Covering 67.2% of all spending, $125bn will be committed to acquiring in-game content – with the lion’s share of $72.5bn going on cosmetic purchases alone – before the year’s end. People really need those Fortnite skins, huh?

Looking across the mediums of console, PC, and mobile, the latter is far and away the primary earner ($105bn) while the others trail at $45.3bn and $36.4bn respectively. Cloud gaming, meanwhile, is steadily gaining traction at around $4.3bn.

Despite the impressive figures touted in the report, its authors Karol Severin and Perry Gresham warn that the growth pace of gaming has ‘arguably peaked’ already and that intrinsic changes may have to take place soon.

As we previously covered, the real hey-day of gaming’s growth occurred against a backdrop COVID lockdowns throughout 2020 and 2021, before a 5% decline was recorded in 2022.

It’s believed global revenue will return to growth this year, though with a significant caveat that it will remain under the rate of inflation at around 6.5%. ‘The games industry will not see more than low- to mid-single digit percentage growth for the remainder of the decade,’ the report reads.

Either way, once 2030 is upon us, revenue streams are set to be historically lucrative. In-game spending is expected to increase to $176.9bn while cosmetic purchases rise to $71.4bn. Mobile revenue will reportedly be up 32.4%, consoles by 35.1%, and PC by 39.3%.

The driving factors behind this predicted surge offer both positive and negative consumer trends for gamers.

The good news is that increasing accessibility to the internet and smartphones worldwide will apparently have a large impact on growth, simultaneously allowing people from developing regions to enjoy the gaming experiences of the future.

The bad news, is that advertising and product placement is seen as a key revenue driver too – and we all know how the community feels about that. Just imagine the scope for shameless commercial prop with contemporary open world cities like Cyberpunk2077 or Spiderman 2.

Arguably the most key takeaway of the report, however, is that as affordable subscriptions continue to hinder direct sales of games, publishers may have to limit their funding for developers. Could subscription services fill the space to become default publishers?

This in conjunction with a shift towards ‘free-to-play’ games monetized by ads or in-game purchases will make the industry ‘more commercially dependent on time spent in games,’ according to Severin and Gresham.

If you’re a gamer wondering what this means for you in the short and long term, expect to see microtransactions popping up with growing regularity over the coming years.

Further down the line, indications point to games being specifically designed to keep us glued to our screens for as long as possible. Who needs a social life or career anyway?