February 19, 2016

How PC Trumped Mobile and Console in 2015

Wherever you look in the billion pound gaming sector, you will see that mobile remains the dominant medium, whether you consider social media platforms or the rise of mobile apps. This may well be a false representation of the marketplace; however, with recent figures suggesting desktop gaming is the omnipotent and yet highly undervalued driving force.

Although it is widely accepted that desktop gaming has enjoyed a significant renaissance in the last 18 months, it is still considered as a poor relation of the mobile segment. This does a disservice to the platform, however, and distracts from a market evolution that will continue apace in 2016.

A quick look at the figures tells us that the global market for digital games totaled $61 billion across all platforms, with mobile the leading contributor in terms of dollar sales alone ($25.8 billion). This helped to drive an 8% increase in the market, while desktop and console gaming revenues followed closely behind. Interestingly, it was only social and subscription-based gaming that saw declines in profitability, recording revenue decreases of 0.8% and 4% respectively.

So far, this paints a familiar picture and one that reflects our perception of each individual gaming segment. If we delve a little deeper, however, we will see that not everything is as it seems in the marketplace.

In fact, the top 10 desktop games earn more annually than the top 10 mobile titles, while the cumulative level of revenue from the PC market remains higher than that generated by mobile ($32 billion as opposed to $25.8 billion). Whichever way you slice it, this adds a whole new dimension to the market and reinforces the growth (and diversification) that PC gaming has enjoyed during the last 18 months. Much of this growth has been based on the success flexible gaming platforms such as MMO and social-network based experiences, which generated combined revenue of $25 last year.

What the statistics don’t tell us is that the boundaries between desktop and mobile gaming continue to blur, as top publishers look to diversify across multiple gaming sectors and create unique flexible experiences based on a non-subscription, freemium model. We have also seen numerous buyout and mergers between desktop and mobile developers, with the prominent deal being the acquisition of King’s social outlet Candy Crush by Activision Blizzard for a staggering $5.9 billion.

Given deals of this nature, the emergence of MMO gaming and the launch of platforms such as Plarium Online Games who offer games such as Sparta: War of Empires, it is clear we are moving towards a fluid market which is being spearheaded by multi-player gamers. It also appears as though developers have realized that MMO platforms offer a unique opportunity to optimize profitability and leverage the existing technology, so this is a trend that will continue to become more prominent as the decade unfolds.

As for gamers, this demographic will reap huge dividends as they begin to access a multitude of titles through a single platform and streaming service.