While the American State of the Union continues to be delayed, the State of our union, the Game Industry, has been released.
Thousands of developers provided data that informs trends we can expect to see in 2019, as well as other strange bits of information (e.g. as many developers are working on Xbox 360 games as games for Alexa and other voice assistants: 2%). This article will outline notable trends for each major game platform, and conclude with information applicable to the industry as a whole.
PC continues to host the majority of games out there. More than twice as many developers are developing games for PC than for every other platform combined. Most games are sold via the Steam web Store, which a growing majority of developers feel charges too much.
A growing number of companies are releasing their own storefronts on PC, notably the Epic Games Store and the Discord Store. The competitive margins they offer will pose an increasing threat to Steam’s share of the industry, but it continues to be the single largest storefront. For now.
Mobile/Tablet continues to be the second largest platform for games in 2019, commanding a third of the last game releases, and over a third of upcoming releases.
Android maintains a slight lead (3%) over iOS for games currently in development. This is impressive until you realize that more than three quarters of mobile users worldwide are on Android. iOS has followed close behind Android, and has generated more revenue from apps with only one third as many users.
The PS4 and PS4 Pro are still the most popular consoles for developers. Close to a third of all games are being developed for release on PlayStation.
PlayStation has kept its dominance through its reliance on exclusive games and popular bundles of its consoles. The additional relaxing of Sony’s cross-play ban could also prove beneficial for PlayStation’s growth.
Xbox’s market share is slightly smaller than PlayStation, as far fewer exclusive games achieve viability on Xbox ever since Halo.
Integration between Windows 10 and Xbox provides an opportunity for growth for Microsoft. However, latency issues need to be overcome first as this feature relies primarily on streaming.
Players can play PC games with Xbox controllers and Xbox games with mouse and keyboard. What a time.
Interestingly, interest for Microsoft and Sony’s VR technology on their consoles is currently tied. Microsoft’s Hololens has attracted more attention than Sony’s more established offering has.
The Switch has experienced the largest increase in developer interest, and will host close to a fifth of games currently in development.
The Switch now stands as the platform developers are most interested in. This is for good reason. The well documented “Switch Tax” has provided a profitable port destination for existing game franchises.
Augmented Reality (A.R.)/ Virtual Reality (V.R.)
Almost half of developers are working on AR/VR games; not a significant change from last year’s results.
The changes in this segment of the industry lie within which companies are most likely to succeed in capturing market share. HTC Vive now leads the industry by developer interest, beating the tie it had with Oculus Rift last year.
The debate over which of these two distinct offerings will be the dominant “immersive reality” technology seems to favor AR over VR. Developers surveyed favored AR significantly over VR (34% to 19%), and investments made by companies seem to indicate agreement on the potential of Augmented Reality.
The majority of game developers are working more than 40 hours a week, but only about a quarter of those are doing so under orders from management. Most respondents instead willingly pressured themselves to do so.
Many game developers also feel as though they should unionize. Almost half agree that they should, but only 21% realistically think this will happen. The opportunity given for elaboration on their answers indicates that this may be related to the increasingly recognized greed of game studio executives.
The overt monetization of games also seems to be easing. With the increasing controversy surrounding loot boxes, currently less than 10% of games being developed will include them. However, a significant portion will still include premium currencies (22%), paid DLC (24%) and subscriptions (14%).
Finally, it seems the next generations of consoles are still relatively far out as only 2% are working on games for those consoles exclusively. 16% indicated that their games would be available on current and next-gen consoles, and a notable 37% of respondents claim the platform for their current project is yet to be decided.
The full report is available for free upon sign-up ahead of the Game Developers Conference in March.
Overall, our Union continues to prosper. Game on.