Happy New Year! As I did back in 2013, it’s time for me to predict what I expect to happen in the video game industry in 2015.
We’ve seen a bunch of changes to Steam in 2014 and I see these continuing to occur. Greenlight has grown every month with December 2014 having a huge 500 games accepted. The floodgates have also opened with publishers releasing their back catalogs and generally a much higher number of games than we’ve seen in the past. In 2015 I predict we will see more ways for consumers to distinguish the good from the bad. Curators was a great start and I’ve heard mixed results from gamers and developers I’ve spoken with. I expect Valve to continue adding more tangential forms of differentiation to help filter the flood of games while removing Greenlight entirely.
I don’t expect much movement in the Steam OS area for the average consumer just yet however as the second and third generation of Steam Machine’s are released I expect an increased uptake from the average gamer. The largest tipping point will occur when the the average Steam Machine costs a similar amount to the current generation consoles, while being more powerful.
Virtual Reality Rise
I predicted the rise of Oculus back at the start of 2013 and I expect both Oculus and it’s competitors to grow substantially in 2015. The consumer kit from Oculus will be the flagship product with the Gear VR coming in a close second. While there has been a lot of attention on the Gear VR (especially from Carmack) this is more where their engineering power is specifically focussed right at this time, it doesn’t mean the Gear VR will be more important/dominant than the CV1.
I expect the Oculus competitors to grow in 2015 with possibly 1 or 2 reaching similar levels of quality, however I don’t foresee them taking much market share. Oculus simply have too much of a head start, the best brain power and the deep pockets of Facebook to keep them ahead.
My biggest prediction for mobile is for Android to continue to outpace iOS. I’m continually surprised by staggering numbers Android has, especially coming out of China. While iOS is generally still more profitable for a similar quality game, Android’s brute force numbers are gaining on Apple with every month that passes.
I see the existing strong developers extending their market share with the occasional small indie having a huge win but for the most part, the average mobile developer will still only make hundreds of dollars from their games.
Web Second Coming
I see HTML5 and WebGL leading to a second wave of web based games. 2015 will be the final nail in the Flash coffin with the new technologies slotting in perfectly. The zero download, zero install of these new technologies will help them to grow across all desktop platforms. I don’t see much growth in mobile web for games as the experience compared to a native app (even one written in HTML and converted to native) is just not there yet. I’m excited that all the major mobile platforms now support HTML5/WebGL so that is definitely a step in the right direction.
With the second wave of web games I foresee (towards the latter half of 2015) a rise in web payments. While PayPal and Facebook are the current leaders, I expect a lot of movement in this area in response to the growing web gaming trend. Whether it’s a technology that sits of a crypto currency or something completely new, there is a high demand for a simplified, low cost form of payments to support web games.
The flood of wearable hardware will begin in earnest in 2015. Apple entering the fight with their Apple Watch will see the battle heat up, however I think it will be short lived. At this stage the bulkiness and battery life is too restrictive for the average user to pick them up. While there will continue to be growth in wearables in 2015 I don’t see it reaching the ubiquity of mobile phones in 2015. Specifically for games, there are some edge cases where wearables will add value to a game, for the most part they will only be used to allow gamers to receive notifications from their games with a little more ease.
In the longer term I definitely see wearables taking off, however I don’t see this occurring until late 2015 or more likely 2016 and beyond. Once the form factor is down further and the screens become more powerful I see the possibility of “gaming on your arm” being a reality.
The continuing trend away from Facebook as a game platform will continue. It seems both players and developers have been burnt in the past year or two of Facebook gaming and while there could be a swing back in the coming year, I don’t see us returning to the crazy high revenue’s and growth we’ve seen previously. My hope is still (as it was in 2013) to see better quality social games growing out of these platforms. At the very least we will continue to see tighter integration between games and Facebook Connect in the coming year.
We’ve seen some large hacks in the video game industry in 2014, most recently on Christmas Day with Xbox Live and PSN. I see more hacks like this in 2015 as well as at least one major hacking incident which shakes the foundation of the video game industry. The power of cyber attacks seems to be growing exponentially and unfortunately it’s only a matter of time before one of the big players gets a huge hack that could cause major disruptions.
What are your predictions for 2015? Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? What would you love to see in 2015?