Gaming in 2020: How VR and Blockchains Will Transform Digital Worlds

The future of gaming will create experiences unlike any other.

Worldwide gaming revenues hit $91 billion last year. According to SuperData Research, it was “the biggest year in the digital games market and playable media world ever.”

The global gaming market includes sales on mobile devices, consoles, and PCs. But over the next few years, smaller categories such as virtual reality are poised for major growth.

If you’re an avid gamer, the best experiences are yet to come.

The future will be unlike anything you’ve ever played

In 2016, PC gaming garnered $34 billion in sales, driven by major titles like League of Legends and Overwatch. Consoles generated $6.6 billion in revenues, boosted by micro-transactions and DLCs. But the biggest segment of the gaming market was mobile, where consumers spent $40.6 billion on blockbuster hits like Pokémon Go and Clash Royale.

While gaming revenues continue to increase globally, some of the major growth categories are slowing down. SuperData Research notes that mobile gaming — the biggest growth driver of the last five years — has “started to mature and now more closely resembles traditional games publishing, requiring ever higher production values and marketing spend.”

But things are about to change. Rami Ismail, a game developer at Vlambeer, thinks that looking at the past to predict the future won’t work.

“The industry moves so fast that I think a lot of advice from two years ago, unless it’s very generic advice, does not really apply in the same way anymore,” he told The Guardian.

The biggest reason the past can’t help us is that the hardware of the future will no longer involve incremental improvements on preexisting products. For example, 100% of the top 20 gaming platforms of all time were either consoles or handhelds. The hardware of the future will be neither.

Data courtesy VGChartz

VR is ready for primetime

Already, content providers are developing incredible, immersive VR experiences. Soon, you’ll be able to attend a concert or sports event from anywhere in the world.

The applications for gaming will be just as impressive. Imagine being transported to another planet (with custom physics) or a civil war battlefield (with thousands of fellow gamers). The opportunities for every genre and game type are endless.

Despite the hype, VR gaming has been underwhelming thus far. Last year, it generated just $2.7 billion in sales, over 90% less than mobile gaming. SuperData Research outlined the struggle:

“A high price point, the absence of a strong content line-up, and difficulties with properly delivering through retail cooled consumers’ expectations.”

That all is about to change.

IDC estimates that 2.2 million VR headsets shipped in the first quarter of 2017. “With a long list of new products scheduled to ship in the second half of 2017,” they report, “IDC is forecasting triple-digit growth for the full year.” Over the next few years, they predict VR headset shipments to grow by 58% annually, reaching 99.4 million units in 2021.

Mass adoption of VR hardware will enable gaming experiences unlike anything in history.

Hardware ≠ Content

Still, challenges remain. Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst at IDC, sees issues beyond simply hardware penetration:

“The VR market is still very young and consumers seem to be taking a cautious approach. With plenty of headset options already in the market and even more coming soon, hardware isn’t the issue. The bigger challenge is the slow growth in content that appeals to a mass audience, combined with the confusion associated with a lack of cross-platform support.”

So, two issues will hinder VR from radicalizing gaming:

  1. Lack of cross-platform support
  2. Insufficient content

Fortunately, one project is poised to solve those problems.

How Decentraland will accelerate the next phase of gaming

Started in 2015, the Decentraland team is aiming to accelerate cross-platform support and the development of VR content. Both of these issues are solved by creating a decentralized VR platform.

Enabling cross-platform support

As long as VR content is created on a centralized platform (ie. owned by a single organization), cross-platform support will suffer. For example, Facebook could easily prevent content developed for its ‘Spaces’ VR world from working on any platform other than Oculus, which it also owns.

Reducing a consumer’s or developer’s ability to use multiple platforms will limit the growth of in-world communities, a key advantage of VR content. According to Chris Vollmer, a strategist in PwC’s global entertainment and media business:

“If I was a game publisher, I would think more about social community and peer-to-peer connections and a network for a specific property and create more connectivity.”

A decentralized VR platform like Decentraland will give gamers and developers what they really crave: full control. Only then will VR fully provide the best gaming experiences.

Promoting VR content creation

Centralized VR platforms also hinder the growth of VR content. The platform operator acts like a gatekeeper, dictating prices, levying taxes, censoring users, controlling content, and monetizing user data.

In Decentraland, the users own the platform. Through the use of an in-world cryptocurrency (MANA), users can buy land on a blockchain-based ledger, develop peer-to-peer applications, and trade digital assets without interference. This empowers developers and consumers to socialize and transact without intermediaries.

The thought process is simple: If you let users create their own rules while letting them keep 100% of the value, the best VR experiences will thrive.

Next Steps

Decentraland is getting ready to revolutionize gaming. Our token sale is an exciting opportunity to buy into the exponential growth of VR while supporting a free and open gaming platform. We hope you’ll join us.

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