What will gaming look like in 12 years time? Industry experts give their answers…

The final session at MI6 brought together an impressive panel of game industry luminaries to try to figure out the world of gaming in 2020. At a marketing conference, the emphasis was very much on the human experience, rather than the technology. But the panel gave us a good idea of the sort of market we’ll likely be addressing in the years ahead…

Everyone is Connected…

Kathy Vrabeck, head of EA’s casual and mobile games business (pictured):
“12 years ago the games market was almost exclusively about unconnected consoles and PCs. In the intervening time, the market is now about 30% connected, which still leaves 70%. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that in the next 12 years that number will change a lot.

“Younger consumers are completely connected now and don’t know anything else. They expect to be entertained online. That has enormous implications for how we deliver and market our games. The cost of acquiring those consumers is on us as publishes instead of on retailers.

It also means that user-generated content and personalization becomes even more important. In fact, it’s everything.”

…But People Still Love Single Player Games

Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities:
“Entertainment is still very often a solitary experience. We read books alone. When we watch a movie, we might be with someone but we experience it alone. Games will always be like that too. There will always be games where people want to just escape and take a few hours of mindless fun.”

Alex St. John is co-founder of Wild Tangent and a creator of DirectX: “I agree that community and social gaming will be enormously important, but it’s worth looking closely at what we think of as multi-player games. Anyone who has, as I have, spent time playing World of Warcraft will know that a lot of the game is really just a single player game.”


Everyone is a Gamer…

Laurent Detoc is CEO of Ubisoft North America: “The trend we’ve seen over the past few years is simply that a lot more people are playing games, and that will continue. People who did not previously play games are playing them now. More accessibility has meant more people. We have been playing the same games for 20 years. Now we are offering new games and the result has been new players. This is just the beginning.”

…But They Don’t Know It

Kathy Vrabeck:
“If you look at the social games played by tween girls, very little of the activity is actually games playing. Mostly it’s about the social connections. But they are in a games world. They just don’t see it that way. Many of the games we make in 2020 won’t look like games and maybe won’t even be called games.”


Games are True Social Events…

Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and chair of NeoEdge: “Social gatherings have always had some game playing elements whether you’re talking about a 12th century banquet or a game of Risk around the table at home. The way people will play games in the future is by getting together socially and making gaming a part of that experience, along with the beer and the pizza. They’ll gather in social places and play games together, which are either free games or paid. Games will bring people together.”

…But Online is Key

Alex St. John: “In the 1940s you went to the movie theatre to watch a film and also to watch serials and news. When TV came, the model changed completely. We still go to the movies to watch Titanic, but we watch the news and serial entertainments on TV, with an ad-supported model. The game industry is going through the same process now. $60 boxes will still be with us but online will be the model, heavily supported by advertising. It will be a community-dominated market.”



Games Make the World a Better Place…

Peter Moore, head of EA Sports:
“Games have a key role to play in health and wellness. People will be able to do things with games in their own houses that they just can’t do at the gym. And it’s not just about making yourself stronger and healthier but also smarter and happier. Games have the power to make people happy and to make the world a better place,. And I do mean the world, because we are now opening up massive new markets like China and India that will bring billions of gamers.”

…But Not for Console Manufacturers

Alex St. John:
“A console is not designed to let you play games. It’s designed to prevent you from playing games if you haven’t paid for them. That is all going to go away.”