From a minority to the norm — gamers are everywhere. What started as a niche hobby for the tech-inclined in the 70s is now one of the largest entertainment segments on Earth, with industry revenues exceeding $180 billion in 2021. Around one-third of the people on Earth are gamers, and if the trends are to continue that number could be closer to half in the next few years.
With such large market opportunities, game devs, studios, publishers, and savvy investors are on the lookout for the next big opportunity. In 2017, for example, the battle royale genre hit the mainstream on the wings of PUBG and Fortnite. PUBG has gone on to be one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, accumulating more than $13 billion in revenue across all platforms. This impressive statistic is second only to Fortnite which has seen consistent revenues of around $6 billion per year since 2020.
Nobody knows what the next WoW, PUBG, Fortnite, or Minecraft will be, but we can say something about the platforms that it will be on. Looking across the gaming landscape today, one thing is blatantly clear: mobile is king. While many people will always prefer consoles or PCs over mobile, it’s an undeniable fact that mobile gaming is more important today than ever.
A recent article on Investing.com looked at this topic and the impact that Augmented Reality (AR) would have on mobile gaming. We might be biased, but we do believe AR has a major role to play in the future of gaming and the metaverse. But don’t just take our word for it — let us convince you ✨
Immersive technology in gaming
There are many examples of the gaming industry bringing new technologies into the mainstream. The mid-2000s, for example, saw battle lines forming between two types of high-definition media: Blu-ray and HD DVD. Both had the support of major tech companies and movie studios, but history tells us there was a clear victor. This is probably the first time in a long time you’ve read ‘HD DVD’ — if you even remember the ill-fated format at all.
There are many reasons why Blu-ray might have triumphed over HD DVD, but one major factor was its use in Sony’s PlayStation 3 consoles. Sony, which played a major role in the development of Blu-ray, famously took a loss on PS3 consoles for a long time, but in doing so secured a future for their preferred format.
Gaming has also played a big role in the development of Virtual Reality (VR). Like Blu-ray, VR has many applications — from education through to cinema — but gaming has seen the fastest uptake. The gaming segment accounts for around 50% of the total VR market share, and while other segments are sure to grow, it is forecast to maintain a dominant share of the overall market.
Putting this information together, we can paint a picture of what to expect from gaming and immersive technologies in the future. Mobile gaming is rising, as are immersive technologies. But mobiles aren’t VR headsets — the appeal of mobile gaming lies in its portability and how affordable smartphones are today. This is where AR comes in. Requiring nothing more than a phone with a camera (and a phone without a camera is almost unheard of in 2022), AR is the mobile answer to immersive gaming experiences. And with research showing that a third of people aged between 18 and 34 are ‘very interested in AR games, a clear trend is beginning to emerge.
The potential of AR gaming
AR gaming has a lot of room to grow, but we’re still extremely early in the transition to immersive mobile experiences. So far, the most popular AR experiences for mobile users come from ‘filters’ found in apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. These AR experiences give users a creative toolkit from which they can create fun, entertaining posts to share on social media.
While the leap to mobile AR gaming hasn’t happened just yet, there are signs that it’s on the way. Pokémon Go demonstrated that an AR-centered mobile game was not just possible, but that the market was hungry for this kind of experience. In 2021, Pokémon Go generated $904 million in revenue, significantly higher than the $588 million the app generated in its first year at the peak of its popularity. People love the game and they’ve stuck by it over the years, demonstrating this kind of experience is much more than a gimmick.
Pokémon Go isn’t the only game in AR either — we recently covered some games that use AR in novel ways. These are titles that are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in an AR gaming experience, and while their novelty means that they face some challenges that have held them back from true mainstream adoption, they’re paving the way for the next generation of games in AR.
At Hololoot, we believe that mainstream adoption of AR in gaming is a matter of when not if. The industry is still extremely young, but by laying the infrastructure for AR gaming to take root, we’re betting on technology that has shown sustained growth over the past decade. Our app provides the framework for developers and creators to mint AR assets as NFTs, merging these exciting markets with another that shows incredible potential — blockchain gaming.
While widespread adoption is still a few years off, the rapid development of more powerful devices capable of supporting better AR experiences means that gamers will find more and more opportunities to enjoy AR. We’re positioning ourselves for this adoption, and by staking an early claim to the AR metaverse in the process, we’re building our app to service the billions of gamers of tomorrow.