2018 will enter the books as one of the most exciting years for the global gaming industry in recent history: Sustained high growth (despite falling just short of the 2018 targets) to cross the USD 130bn threshold, games like PUBG and Fortnite breaking out and becoming socio-cultural phenomena, or streaming platforms delivering more than 50bn hours of game content are just a few major highlights. As the final week of this year comes to a close, it’s worth looking ahead at what 2019 has in store for the global gaming industry. From the onset, this coming year has all the ingredients to be even bigger, bolder, and better than the past 12 months. So whether you’re a passionate gamer, a Mom watching your kids play, a game developer, or an investor betting on the next big hit there are plenty of things to be pumped about. Here are the 5 major headlines in gaming that 2019 could have up its sleeve:
EXPELLIARMUS! HARRY POTTER BREAKS POKÉMON GO’S RECORD (AND OTHER NOTEWORTHY RELEASES)
Arguably the most anticipated mobile game launch in 2019 is Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Forecasts see the game bringing in around USD 100M in its first 30 days after launch. While analysts suggest that the record set by Pokémon Go (USD 100M in just 2 weeks) might be out of reach, it’s too early to expel Harry, Dumbledore, and any other wizard coming out of Hogwarts. So, fellow muggles, indulge in the game’s trailer and practice your spells — witchcraft is coming to a city near you.
Supercell’s new title Brawl Stars got a head start just a couple of weeks ago, bringing in just over USD 5M in its first week after launch from 9.5M installs. While those numbers pale in comparison to the launch week of Clash Royale (USD 22M, 13M installs), gamers seem to love it. With Supercell’s ability to evolve titles and surprise its players, expect Brawl Stars to make some more noise next year.
Our friends from IGN as well as SVG wrote very comprehensive overviews of exciting games to be released in 2019, like Dead or Alive 6, Minecraft: Dungeons, Far Cry New Dawn, and a new Pokémon, just to name a few. If you’re a fan of revived classics (and some gore), watch out for Resident Evil 2 (just be aware that it’s supposed to be very realistic).
YOUR GAMING DEVICE DOESN’T MATTER
2019 will pick up right where 2018 left off when it comes to cross-platform play and adoption. The boundaries between platforms and devices will continue to disappear, largely driven by consumer needs, technological progress, as well as the appeal of the mobile gaming industry to game studios due to its market potential and ability to scale.
Gamers are looking for shared social experiences with friends to enjoy their favorite game together, regardless of their respective choice of platform. Take it straight from John Kodera, CEO of the historically very protective Sony Interactive Entertainment:
“Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”
More and more games will support social gaming experiences across different devices and platforms, so we should expect to see more of what Sony as well as Nintendo and Microsoft promised us.
A related driver that enables game developers and publishers to de-silo their games and connect more platforms is the upgrade in smartphone specs that essentially elevated multiplayer game mechanics, and hence the game experience, to the same level as real-time strategy games on consoles and PC/Mac. Add to this the fact that mobile gaming revenues are expected to hit 60% of the entire gaming industry revenues and you have yourself a very compelling cross-platform strategy.
POWER TO THE DEVS
Epic Games making its core tools from Fortnite available to all developers, for free. The official announcement said:
“These services will be free for all developers, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. As a developer, you’re free to choose mix-and-match solutions from Epic and others as you wish.”
It’s a smart move and great for the industry: not only does it democratize state-of-the-art tools needed to build complex AAA gameplay and content, it also gives Epic a leg up in the race to attract the best talent and games to be built on the Unreal Engine and be distributed through the Epic games store — which brings us to our next exciting trend for 2019.
GETTING COZY: WHEN EPIC AND DISCORD JOIN THE STEAM ROOM
In addition to giving away sweet developer goodies, Epic decided it was time to throw in a little extra. How about launching its own game store and cutting its revenue share from 30% (industry standard) to 12%, thereby leaving a whooping 88% in the hands (and pockets) of the game developers themselves? It’s a massive shot across the bow of Valve and its store Steam, which has dominated the PC gaming market. That domination seems to be in serious jeopardy in 2019, because in addition to Epic, Discord is set to make a major push in the PC game distribution by only taking 10% of the generated revenues and with fresh funds of USD 150m available. There will be two major beneficiaries from this increased and fierce competition: game developers and players.
THE SWITCH SWITCHES THINGS UP
Until late October, it felt like Nintendo was wrestling with its typical problem: having a competitive console but not enough AAA and exclusive content for it to further drive sales. But just before the holiday season, revised forecasts had Nintendo sell more units of the Switch than Sony of the PS4. Why does that matter for 2019? Because the rumor mill is going wild around two main aspects: a revised model of the Switch (maybe a portable Fortnite version or a Switch Pro?) and some exciting games in the pipeline. Word on the street has it that a new Zelda is coming, maybe even a new Mario game. And the new Pokémon alone should add more fuel to the fire. 2019 could be the year the Switch breaks Sony’s stronghold on the console gaming market.