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开发者谈游戏行业未来的发展状态和对去年的预测评估

发布时间:2020-03-23 09:06:48 Tags:,

开发者谈游戏行业未来的发展状态和对去年的预测评估

原作者:Brendan Sinclair 译者:Willow Wu

每年,我们都会采访一些专业分析人士,谈谈他们对未来的看法。如果遇到了前一年的受访者,我们会请他们评价去年的个人预言。游戏产业的发展速度是如此之快,预测结果会是怎样谁都无法保证。但是今年,我们可以信心满满地说,小组成员所预言的就是2020(即使最终结果不算是100%应验)。

下面你将会看到来自预测小组资深专家的预言,其中有我们熟悉的Kantan Games的Dr. Serkan Toto、IHS Markit的Piers Harding-Rolls和NPD Group的Mat Piscatella。但我们想先从两位新加入的成员聊起:Interpret北美区域副总裁Jesse Divnich和SuperData的XR部门负责人Stephanie Llamas。

Stephanie Llamas, Superdata

有更多热门游戏IP产品登陆VR——随着《半衰期:爱莉克斯》和《求生之路》登上VR平台,以后会有更多3A游戏加入进来。关键在于,这些游戏是否适合这个平台,或者说能不能适应其独特的价值主张。VR很酷并不意味着产品一定要有VR版本的,所以现实还是要利用IP把消费者吸引到这个平台,用合适的内容留住用户。

Last Day on Earth: Survival(from pockegtgamer.biz)

Last Day on Earth: Survival(from pockegtgamer.biz)

苹果果公司会推出AR眼镜(开玩笑罢了,他们不会的)——AR头戴设备在未来几年依然还是概念,真正实现这个梦想可能还要若干年的时间。没有一体化、流畅的外形以及亲民的价格,到2020年普通消费者可能也不会意识到AR设备的存在,对它完全没有兴趣。甚至Magic Leap公司也开始明白企业才是MR/AR设备制造商的目标客户。

Oculus Quest将售出180万台设备,并大幅降价——Quest提供了人们期待已久的体验,进一步减少了条件限制,仅在半年内就取得了令人印象深刻的销售业绩。截止2019年底,Quest的销量已经达到6亿台左右,随着后续新内容的推出,对Oculus最新设备感兴趣的消费者数量应该会快速增长。但是他们需要把价格降到100~200美元左右,尤其是想跟PSVR竞争的话。关于PS5的各种消息又勾起了人们对头戴设备的好奇心。

社交XR即将到来——Facebook的社交VR平台Horizon将会打破VR的隔离枷锁。他们会利用多种办法为用户提供安全感,这是VR Chat等其它同类应用难以做到的。要说Facebook最擅长的领域,那就是社交媒体。

虽说移动AR技术并不会创造直接收益,但它会改变广告和零售——《精灵宝可梦GO》有AR元素,但人们并不是冲着它们来玩游戏的。事实上,大多数人都不玩AR模式。《精灵宝可梦GO》基本上是利用移动AR盈利唯一可用的例子。然而,各大品牌有机会触及84%使用社交媒体滤镜的美国AR用户。与弹窗广告或者插入式广告不同,人们对这种品牌化AR内容的接受度更高,这为广告商提供了与消费者互动的大好机会。比如美妆零售商,AR技术的使用让他们看到了转化率的提升。

2020并不是“VR移植之年”,但是它有点这个意思了。Oculus和PSVR将继续为独占内容展开竞争。Oculus Go在假期期间的销售成绩令人印象深刻,这让很多业内人士感到意外。事实证明有一批新的休闲用户慢慢出现了。但是新一年的头戴设备销量我们还是保守估计在200~300万这个范围——肯定不足以赢得大众的关注。

基于位置的虚拟现实将继续成为应用的主要驱动力——LBE(基于位置的娱乐体验)在过去的一年里蓬勃发展,2019年盈利5亿美元。如何说服那些原本不会对VR感兴趣的人戴上头显是关键,而LBE将继续扩大影响力,大众应用VR的日子会越来越近。有知名IP的助阵,实现的可能性也会更大。

Jesse Divnich,Interpret

VR仍难以摆脱困境——虽说内容为王,但如今单靠内容也没有那么容易拉动硬件销量。《半衰期》会起到一定作用,为VR带来一批新用户,但我认为到2020年底,状况也还是跟现在无异……大家仍在琢磨VR的发展方向。

《堡垒之夜》热度减退——数据表达得很清楚,退出游戏的玩家比迷上游戏的新玩家要多。跟2018年相比,大型射击游戏市场的竞争趋势是更加白热化的,这要归咎于《堡垒之夜》。但是2020年,他们要维持以往的市场地位需要面临诸多挑战。我们的数据也表明了当下玩家对更新并没有以往那么期待。

《Apex英雄》获得更多市场份额——它的成功非常令人意外,Respawn没办法跟上玩家的内容需求。玩家的状况起起伏伏,随着第三季推出全新的幻影节派对收藏活动,Respawn正在大举迈进,而迷失的玩家们也开始重新投入战斗。我想2020年是属于他们的。

主播培训——如今,主播能够更快地成为明星级别的人物,我们津津乐道。但是当他们做出不负责的事时,我们会撇清关系。我预测,发行商和直播平台将出台更强硬的个人约束条款或“鼓励”政策(尤其教育领域的主播),让他们明白在公开和私下场合应该如何摆正自己的形象。NFL、NBA、MLB等都有为菜鸟提供这方面的培训。我认为行业内可能会提供专业培训,甚至完成某些课程的证书。2020年我们可以看到更为明显的迹象。

Piers Harding-Rolls, IHS Markit Technology

去年的预测:

2018年,游戏市场的消费总支出将超过1280亿美元——正确。在这篇文章发出后,我们完成了2018年的实际数据统计,结果略高了一点:1283亿美元。

2018年主机游戏市场将达到有史以来的最大规模——正确。

2019年主机游戏市场会再次增长——可能是错误的。我们仍然需要等待12月的结果(很快了),但目前我们认为全球主机市场的状况是下滑了2.5%(游戏内容和服务)。PS4和Xbox One在2019年年初的表现低于预期。

Switch是今年卖得最好的主机——虽然还有几周时间才能确定,但应该是正确的。Switch Lite的发售给Switch推了一把力。我们预测2019年全球销售额为2000万美元(我预计任天堂会本财年的预测会提高一点)。

新一代主机公布,但不会发售——正确。我们现在已经知道了PS5和Xbox Series X的参数、名字和发售时期——2020年底。

2019年云游戏对市场的影响非常小——正确。云游戏是个慢热的趋势,至少到2022前都是这个状态。

云游戏市场会有新的参与者——对。网易、腾讯、中国联通、中国移动和中国电信已经在本地进行了一系列的实验。

针对战利品宝箱的条规还会继续增加——正确。除了中国大陆发布的条款,英国数字化、文化、媒体和体育部(DCMS)发布的一份谴责性报告表明了针对游戏战利品宝箱的约束还会进一步增强。

中国发行商对全球市场的影响力正在增加——正确。腾讯继续收购西方游戏公司的少数股份,通过手游版的《绝地求生》在国际上取得成功,而网易则依靠《荒野行动》获得成功。

内容争夺战愈演愈烈——正确。线上商店和服务的增加意味着竞争会更加激烈。Epic商店一直在争取游戏限时独占,苹果为Arcade的专属内容也投入了很多。

Facebook将进军云游戏领域——正确。12月18日,Facebook收购了西班牙云游戏公司PlayGiga。它是我2019年比较看好的项目之一。

2020预测:

主机——没有真正意义上的惊喜,但是Switch依然会是新一年销量最高的的主机。我认为,在续航加强版和Lite版发售之后,2020年再推出高端机的可能性已大大降低。2020年应该会成为Switch发售以来销量最好的一年。Lite版之后也会在中国大陆发售。

我猜PS5的销量会超过Xbox Series X。这两个主机的发售销量都将超过2013年的PS4和Xbox One。新一代主机还有一个值得关注的点是是向后兼容对品牌忠诚度和受众转化的影响。我想我们最终会看到更换平台的人变少了。我猜测PS5和Xbox Series X的价格应该是很接近的,而且发售价格很有可能会高于PS4。

高昂的价格可能会促使微软采用双管齐下的产品战略,并在上市期间发布功能相对没那么强大、价格更便宜的版本。我认为索尼应该不会遵循这样的产品发行策略,所以这一方法会给Xbox更多进入市场的灵活性,尽管这也会增加营销和消费者教育的复杂性。就我个人来说,我会等更便宜的版本上市。

云游戏——我认为亚马逊很有可能会在新的一年公布他们的云游戏平台。与谷歌一样,Amazon也为云游戏打下了基础:为游戏部门规划的云战略、云基础设施、已建立的基于GPU的实例,以及Twitch这个非常受欢迎的直播平台。他们的弱势在于内容,跟谷歌一样。谷歌和亚马逊很有可能会通过收购的方式获得内容方面的支持。

微软、腾讯、网易和英伟达正在运行多项测试服务,已做好准备,将于2020年全面投入商业运营。即使有更多的服务出现,我预计索尼的PlayStation Now仍将是2020年最受欢迎的云游戏订阅服务,到3月底用户有望达到140万。

我认为2020年云游戏服务对现有主机、PC和手游市场的影响将依然很小,应该是渐进式增加的。总的来说,我认为在产业投资&定位与市场影响之间会有明显的滞后,2022年开始会有更明显的增势产生。

移动平台方面——中国大陆拥有高速发展的游戏市场和庞大的人口,近年来这里一直是手游的主要增长引擎。手游电竞也已在这里成型,而且正变得更加正式。虽然中国市场依然很重要,但我预计2020年行业将更多地关注其它快速增长的市场,包括东南亚和印度。

印度在手游方面的存在着一些不利因素,包括移动数据服务价格不断上涨以及整体用户盈利落后于其他亚洲市场,但智能手机在市场上的迅速普及意味着印度庞大的人口是一批新的、热切的消费者。多亏了《绝地求生》以及Garena Free Fire这些竞技手游的成功,手游电竞也在这些国家逐渐崛起。

过去数年,超级休闲手游为人们带来了可观的下载量以及广告收入。这个领域的竞争之凶残、内容的快速转变及其对广告收入的影响意味着在2020年超休闲游戏巨头发行商对多样化产品组合&盈利策略的需求会更加强烈。

VR—— Valve备受期待的《半衰期:爱莉克斯》将为基于PC的VR市场带来显著增长。但在2020年,消费者选购的硬件大部分还应该是独立或基于主机的头戴设备。如果Facebook能确保Oculus Quest的供应链在2020年库存充足,它就有很大的机会超越PSVR,成为今年(面向普通消费者)销量最好的“高端”头戴设备。我现在很期待2021年跟随PS5发行的新一代PSVR。

我想知道Valve是否会考虑将《半衰期:爱莉克斯》移植到PS平台并且可以用PSVR操作游戏,这会是索尼在新一代主机战争中的关键。

订阅盈利模式——游戏订阅服务持续增长,但从音乐、视频娱乐行业之前的经历来看,全部游戏公司都转向这种盈利模式是不可能的。确实,恰恰是因为其它形式的盈利机制(尤其是微交易)可以跟订阅服务结合在一起,所以从商业角度来看,订阅模式是更加合理、好处更多的。即便如此,苹果公司的Arcade平台采取的是完全不同的做法——所有的游戏都不含广告盈利或者内购机制。我预计Arcade的订阅人数在2020年结束之前会达到1200万。这将使其成为全球规模最大的捆绑游戏订阅服务。

Content windowing模式(内容创建者向那些希望尽早接触到内容的用户收取一笔费用,游戏邦注)将进一步扩展——限时专属和多层分销战略意味着2020年内容的发行计划将变得更加复杂。像EA和育碧这样的发行商巨头来说,他们有直接面向消费者的订阅服务,但也需要利用其它平台来获取更多用户,内容发行计划将是多层次的,可能会导致消费者的困惑和不满。这也就意味着,就如网络视频行业一样,接下来几年游戏市场对玩家来说是更加碎片化的,也许会让人感到有些茫然。

行业监管——去年,我呼吁行业加强自我监管,不要等到官方机构来调查未成年人玩游戏情况和游戏内盈利设计才措手不及。尽管已经有了明显改进,但显然英国政府的文化、媒体和体育部仍不满意,随后还发布了一份报告建议对游戏行业加强监管。我认为以后很有可能出现某种形式的政府强制执行措施。我估计其他国家的游戏行业也会遇到类似的情况。

Mat Piscatella, NPD Group

去年的预测:

线上内容消费将会占据内容总消费的90%——2019年的前三个季度,87%的的游戏内容消费都是通过线上交易完成的。年终时可能不会达到90%,但应该会非常接近。

主机硬件市场,Switch销量持续增长,成为领头羊——在美国市场,任天堂Switch全年处于销量领先地位,并将成为唯一一个同比呈增长状态的主机平台。

订阅消费迅速增长——这是游戏市场中最具活力的领域之一。2019年的前三个季度,美国市场电子游戏订阅消费增长20%。我预计第四季度的数值还会刷新高。

2018年的成功将导致主机软件的激烈竞争——到今年结束时,游戏软件的销量可能会略有下降。

更多地关注游戏中的社交功能——从这一方面来看,《堡垒之夜》无疑是走在了前头,各种游戏内活动刷新了我们对电子游戏的认知。

流媒体服务的发展速度过快——尽管有各种各样的新产品推出,但流媒体服务并没有得到特别多的关注,消费者还无法跟上它的发展速度。

2020预言:

至少在新一代产品上市之前,主机市场会比较艰难——在2019年,PlayStation 4和Xbox One的硬件销售遭遇了强劲的逆风。除了面临产品周期的末尾,他们还要应对《堡垒之夜》带来的后续影响。2018年《堡垒之夜》将大量新玩家带到了主机市场,硬件、配件和游戏卡带支出都有所增长。虽然Switch销量增长能够抵消2019年某些下滑趋势,但是2020年主机市场不太可能延续上升趋势了。所有现存主机销量应该都会有所下降,配件和新游戏也是如此,至少在新一代主机上市之前都会这样。

订阅模式开始对消费者的购买行为造成显著影响——先前,许多采用订阅模式的游戏在订阅服务之外也收获了可观的增长,这可能(至少部分)是因为订阅用户建议朋友和家人也购买他们正在玩的游戏。然而现在我们看到了改变的迹象——或许是因为订阅者们不再跟朋友、家人安利他们玩的游戏,而是让他们直接选择订阅服务。我们可能会看到这些既有购买行为又有订阅的玩家大规模转向订阅服务。

尽管任天堂Switch与去年同期比较是呈现负增长状态,但是它依然会在2020年保持强劲势头,占据硬件市场的第一位。虽然我认为硬件销量会有所滑落,但是Switch的领先趋势大概会持续到2022年。

沉浸式VR游戏终于迎来了增长契机——Oculus Quest的热度攀升、《半衰期:爱莉克斯》即将到来、为新一代PSVR所做的准备,这些最终会为沉浸式VR游戏带来更多市场关注。

云游戏依然是蹒跚前行——尽管我确实认为微软的xCloud会以成为Xbox系列服务的一个有力补充为目标开始搭建起来、PlayStation Now是PlayStation 5发售之前索尼的重点关注,但我预计2020年其它云游戏项目都不会获得太多关注。基础设施、内容和定价方面存在太多的挑战,那些相互竞争的服务无法在市场上取得重大进展。

Dr. Serkan Toto, Kantan Games

去年的预言:

Switch Pro和Lite将在2019年发行——对了一半。

会出现更多第三方Switch软件,新游戏会来自于EA、动视或者Take-Two的超级热门游戏系列——正确。Switch游戏已经有近3000个了,《守望先锋》终于登上了这个平台。

不会发售PS5或者新一代的Xbox——正确。

加密游戏、区块链游戏、VR和AR游戏都不会有什么突破——正确。

Steam还是没有真正的竞争对手——错误。Epic正在成长为一个真正的PC平台巨头。

中国和韩国对日本市场加大投入——正确,就比如,腾讯刚刚在日本发行了第一个移动应用,投入了巨额营销预算。

2020预言

任天堂发行Switch Pro——这点我非常肯定,猜测价格是399美元。更具体地说,我估计会支持4K,卡带尺寸更大,当然还有增强的配件。我还认为,设备将在暑假之后发售,以避免和PS5以及新一代Xbox撞期,同时发行一款第一方开发游戏。

Switch上会有更多微软游戏——微软和任天堂的交情将会进一步加深,会有更多重磅级Xbox游戏登上switch。但是我对xCloud的登陆持怀疑态度。

PS5和Xbox Series X的相似发售——与上一代相比,这两款主机在规格、价格和功能上都更加相似。微软可能会避免更高的价格(我预计两款产品的售价都是499美元)、配置削弱、对出售二手光盘的限制等等。我不希望两家公司在发布的时候推出掌机版本,也不希望推出PSVR 2或者什么单独的设备。

云游戏会迎来它的第一个重大时刻——2019年末,谷歌Stadia的开局并不顺利,2020年我们应该能对云游戏的未来发展规模、方向有初次了解。亚马逊和Netflix会公布他们的云游戏计划。我比较看好微软的xCloud以及它运用5G技术对移动领域提供的支持。

订阅模式的进一步崛起——我预计2020年索尼会将PlayStation Now和PlayStation Plus整合,制定一个价格。微软也可能会把xCloud附加到现有的捆绑服务中。明年,任天堂会将N64的游戏添加到Switch Online。这些服务标志着电子游戏商业模式的一个重大转折——尽管在移动端,我认为苹果Arcade会在2020年失去风头。

任天堂将会发行一款优秀的手游产品——《马里奥赛车巡回赛》之后,任天堂会带给玩家什么样的手游?在写这段话的时候,我们还没得到任何线索。我预测2020年任天堂会选择另一款知名IP改编成手游,比如塞尔达或者明星大乱斗,跟新的合作伙伴一起开发。明年任天堂还将在中国大陆发行首批应用程序。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Every year, we turn to a panel of expert analysts to ask them what they see coming down the road. And for returning panel members, we ask them to assess their predictions from the previous year. The games industry tends to move so fast that ordinarily, there’s no guarantee how the predictions will turn out. But this year, we can confidently say that all of our panelists’ foresight is 2020 (even if it winds up being not quite 20/20).

Below you’ll find predictions from predictions panel veterans Kantan Games’ Dr. Serkan Toto, IHS Markit’s Piers Harding-Rolls, and The NPD Group’s Mat Piscatella. But we’ll start with two newcomers to the panel: Interpret VP – North America Jesse Divnich and Stephanie Llamas, Head of XR at SuperData, a Nielsen company.

Stephanie Llamas, Superdata

More popular gaming IP – With Half-Life: Alyx and Left 4 Dead breathing life into VR, more AAA titles will be released. The key is whether these games will be ripe for the medium or have trouble adjusting to its unique value proposition. Just because VR is cool doesn’t always mean something needs to be in VR, so it’ll be about drawing the consumers in with the IP and keeping them in the game with the right content.

Apple will come out with AR glasses (just kidding, no they won’t) – AR headsets will remain a dream for the future consumer for several more years. Without a seamless, sleek form factor and a sweet price point, general consumers will remain unaware of and uninterested in AR glasses in 2020. Even Magic Leap is starting to understand that enterprise is the place to be for MR/AR hardware manufacturers.

Oculus Quest will sell 1.8M devices and slash its prices – Quest offers the untethered experience that people have been waiting for and has already posted impressive sales in just six months. By the end of 2019, the Quest sold roughly 600M devices, and with more content to come, Oculus can expect fast-growing interest in their newest headset. But they will need to slash their prices by $100-$200, especially if they want to compete with the PSVR as the PS5 drives renewed interest in the headset.

Social XR is on the “Horizon” – Facebook’s social VR platform Horizon will give people the ability to break the chains of VR isolation. The platform will have ways for users to feel safe in a way that other applications like VR Chat have struggled with. And if Facebook knows something about something, it’s social media.

Mobile AR will not be an entryway for direct consumer monetization but will transform advertising and retail – Sure, Pokemon GO has AR capabilities, but people don’t play the game for them. In fact, most people don’t play the game with AR on at all. And Pokemon GO is pretty much the only viable example we have of direct consumer monetization in mobile AR. However, brands have the opportunity to tap into the 84% of American AR users who use social media filters. Unlike pop-ups or interstitials, folks are much more open to branded content, so this presents advertisers with a great opportunity to engage with consumers. And retailers like beauty brands who are using the technology are already seeing increased conversion from their AR-driven experiences.

2020 is not the year of mass VR adoption – But we’re getting close. Oculus and PSVR will remain in an arms race for exclusive content. Oculus Go showed impressive sales over the holidays, a surprise to many of us in the industry. It proves there is a new type of casual consumer on the horizon. But we are still talking about just two or three million headset sales next year — certainly not enough to claim the masses.

Location-based VR will continue to be a key driver for adoption – LBE saw a boom this past year, earning half a billion dollars in 2019. Getting people into headsets who otherwise wouldn’t be VR adopters is key, and LBE is going to keep on spreading the word so we can get closer to mass adoption. This is even more likely as major IP continues to make a play.

Jesse Divnich, Interpret

VR Still Struggles – Content is king, but a sole piece of content doesn’t move hardware like it did in the past. Half-Life will certainly move some hardware and bring investments into gaming VR, but I still think we will be exactly where we are now by the end of 2020…still wondering where VR is headed.

Fortnite Dropoff – The data is clear, more players are “aging out” of Fortnite than there are “aging in”. There is far more competition in the massive shooter market than there was in 2018, thanks to Fortnite, but they will struggle to hold on to market share in 2020. Our data also indicates that current players are less enthused than usual about future updates.

Apex Legends Gains Share – Its initial success was unexpected and Respawn couldn’t keep up with the demand for new content. Playership stumbled, but with Season 3 and the new Mirage’s Holo-Day Bash event, Respawn is hitting its stride and lapsed players are beginning to re-engage. I think 2020 is their year.

Streamer Private Education – Influencers are rising to stardom much quicker than the past. We love that, but we step back with our association with influencers when they do…well…something irresponsible. I foresee stronger private regulations or “encouragement” from publishers and streaming platforms, especially around the area of educating influencers on how to compose themselves publicly and privately. The NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. all provide training to rookies on this subject. I think there is an opportunity to provide professional training and even certificates for completing certain courses. I think we see more of this in 2020.

Piers Harding-Rolls, IHS Markit Technology

Last Year’s Predictions

Overall games market will reach over $128 billion in consumer spending in 2018 – Right. When we completed our actuals for 2018 after this piece was published the result was a little over at $128.3 billion.

2018 to be the biggest console market on record – Right.

2019 console market to grow once again – Likely to be wrong. We still have December results to come and it is close, but currently we expect an overall world console market decline of 2.5% (games content and services). PS4 and Xbox One performance earlier in 2019 was weaker than expected.

Switch to be the best-selling console in 2019 – While there are still a few weeks to go as of this writing, this is going to be right. Switch has been bolstered by the launch of the Switch Lite. Our global forecast for 2019 sell-through currently sits at 20 million (I expect Nintendo to increase its fiscal year forecast).

Reveals of next-gen consoles but no launch – Right. We now have confirmed specs, names and end of 2020 dates for launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Cloud gaming impact on the market to be minimal in 2019 – Right. Cloud gaming is a slow burner and will continue to be so until at least 2022.

Additional cloud gaming market entrants – Right. There have been a series of trials rolled out in China from NetEase, Tencent, China Unicom, China Mobile, and China Telecom.

Loot box regulatory developments will linger on – Right. Aside from new rules imposed in mainland China, a damning report published by the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Committee in the UK means further governmental scrutiny.

Chinese publishers to continue growing international presence – Right. Tencent has continued acquiring minor shares of Western games companies, has had international success with PUBG Mobile while NetEase has had continued success with Knives Out.

Content ‘windowing’ to expand – Right. The increase in storefronts and services means that this will only increase. Epic Games Store has been very active in securing timed exclusives for its storefront, while Apple has invested heavily in exclusives for Apple Arcade.

Facebook to enter the cloud gaming space – Right. Facebook acquired Spanish cloud gaming company PlayGiga on 18th December. This was one of my outside bets for 2019.

2020 Predictions

Console – No real surprise, but Switch will again be the best selling console during the year. I think the likelihood of a higher-end Switch in 2020 has significantly diminished since the launch of an improved flagship Switch and the Switch Lite. 2020 is also set to be Switch’s best hardware sales performance since launch. The Switch Lite will launch in mainland China.

I expect PS5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, but for both platforms to sell more consoles at launch than both the PS4 and Xbox One did back in 2013. One new factor for this upcoming generation is the impact of backwards compatibility on brand loyalty and audience transition. I think we’ll see less brand switching as a result. I also expect pricing of both PS5 and Xbox Series X to be similar, and I think it’s more likely than not they will be higher than the PS4 launch price point of $399.

A high price point may prompt Microsoft to follow through with a dual-pronged product strategy and release a less powerful, cheaper version of its next-gen platform during the launch window. I don’t expect Sony to follow this product strategy at launch so this approach would give Xbox more go-to-market flexibility although it would also add complexity around marketing and consumer education. Personally, I would wait to bring a cheaper version to market.

Cloud gaming – I think there’s a good chance that Amazon will reveal a cloud gaming service in 2020. Like Google, Amazon has many of the building blocks to compete in the cloud gaming market: a broad cloud strategy for the games sector, cloud infrastructure, established GPU-based instances, and a highly popular live streaming platform in Twitch. Its weakness is content, again like Google. I think there’s a good chance that Google or Amazon will acquire to support their content efforts.

There are a number of beta services in operation from Microsoft, Tencent, NetEase and Nvidia which are well positioned to go for a full commercial launch in 2020. Even with more services arriving, I expect Sony’s PlayStation Now to remain the biggest cloud gaming subscription service in 2020, with subscribers on track to hit 1.4 million by the end of March.

I expect the impact from cloud gaming services on existing console, PC and mobile gaming markets to continue to be minimal and mostly incremental in 2020. Generally, I believe that there will be a significant lag between industry investment and positioning and market impact, with more significant growth coming from 2022 onwards.

Mobile – Mainland China, with its highly evolved games market and its vast population, has been the major growth engine for mobile gaming in recent years. It is also where mobile esports has established itself and is becoming much more formalised. While China is still very important, in 2020 I expect there to be much more industry focus on other high-growth markets including Southeast Asia and India.

There are a couple of mobile gaming headwinds in India including rising prices for consumer mobile data services and overall user monetisation which lags behind other Asian markets, but the rapid adoption of smartphones in the market means its huge population is a new and eager set of consumers. Mobile esports is also being seeded in these countries thanks largely to the success of games such as PUBG Mobile and Garena Free Fire.

Hypercasual mobile games have successfully fuelled huge numbers of downloads and strong performance in advertising revenue over the last few years. The very high competition in this space, the rapid turnaround of content and its impact on advertising revenue will mean that in 2020 the largest publishers in hypercasual games will increasingly look to diversify their product portfolio and monetisation strategies.

VR – Valve’s much anticipated Half-Life: Alyx will provide a noticeable bump to the PC-based VR market but most hardware sales during 2020 will come from standalone and console-based headsets. If Facebook can make sure the Oculus Quest supply chain is well stocked through 2020, it has a very strong chance of being the best-selling ‘high-end’ consumer headset through the year outperforming Sony’s PSVR. I now expect a next-gen PSVR in 2021 at the earliest following the launch of the PS5.

I’d be interested to hear if Valve is considering a port of Half-Life: Alyx to PlayStation platforms for use with the PlayStation VR, as that could act as a significant differentiator for Sony during the next-gen console battle.

Subscription monetisation – Games subscription services continue to proliferate but the wholesale shift to this form of monetisation as we’ve seen in video and music entertainment is not on the cards. Indeed, subscription services have become more commercially legitimate precisely because of other forms of monetisation particularly microtransactions, which can be applied to games bundled into these services. Even so, Apple is taking a different approach with Arcade by not supporting advertising or IAP monetisation, and I forecast will hit 12 million subscribers by the end of 2020. This will make it the biggest bundled games subscription service globally.

Content windowing to expand further – Timed exclusives and multi-tiered distribution strategies means that content release windowing will become more complex in 2020. For major publishers like EA and Ubisoft that have direct to consumer subscription offers but also need to use other platforms to reach audiences, content release scheduling will be multi-tiered potentially leading to consumer confusion and dissatisfaction. This will mean, like the online video space, a more fragmented and disorientating marketplace for gamers during the next few years.

Industry regulation – Last year I called for more industry self-regulation to get ahead of state-based investigations into child use of games and in-game monetisation. While the industry made strides, it is clear that the UK government’s DCMS was not impressed with the industry response to its broad concerns and has published a report recommending regulation of the sector. I think there’s now quite a high chance that there will be some form of tightening of practices enforced by government action. I expect similar scrutiny to continue in other country markets.

Mat Piscatella, NPD Group

Last Year’s Predictions

Spending on digital content to account for 90 percent of total content spending – Through the first three quarters of 2019, 87 percent of US video game content spending was done digitally. It might not get to the 90 percent threshold for the full year but will likely come quite close.

In console hardware, Switch grows, leads market – Nintendo Switch has been the US market leader all year, and will finish as the only console platform showing year-on-year growth.

Subscription spending continues to rapidly grow – One of the most dynamic and exciting areas of the market. Across the first three quarters of 2019, US video game subscription spending grew 20 percent. I expect that number to creep higher with fourth quarter reporting.

2018 success will lead to tough comps in console software – Full game software sales are likely to finish the year down in the single digit percentage range.

More focus on facilitating social hangouts in games – Fortnite has led the way here, with in-game events that are changing the way we think about what video games can be, and what they can do.

Streaming offerings outpace consumer adoption – Streaming services have not gained significant market traction, despite new and expanded product offerings.

2020 Predictions:

Late cycle dynamics make for a rough console market, at least until new consoles arrive – PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware sales have experienced strong headwinds throughout 2019. Not only are the platforms at the tail end of their cycles, they’ve also faced a Fortnite hangover (Fortnite drove significant new players to console in 2018 with associated gains in hardware, accessories and game card spending). While Switch growth has been able to offset some of those declines in 2019, in 2020 we’re likely not to see that trend continue. All in-market hardware should see declines throughout 2020. Accessories and new full game software sales could also decline during this period, at least until new console hardware arrives.

Subscriptions start significantly impacting consumer purchasing behaviors – Many early participating titles in subscription programs saw organic full game sales growth outside of the subscription services themselves, likely (at least partially) because subscribers suggested to friends and family to buy the game the subscriber was playing. However, we are seeing signs that this is changing, and perhaps subscribers are no longer telling those friends and family to buy the game, but rather to subscribe to the subscription service itself. We are likely to see a significant shift in mix between purchase and subscription players towards subscription services for those participating titles.

Despite year-on-year declines, Nintendo Switch will lead the hardware market – Nintendo Switch carries tremendous momentum into 2020. While I do expect hardware sales to decline in 2020, Nintendo Switch will remain on top in the hardware space, perhaps into 2022.

Immersive gaming VR finally gets momentum – Growth in Oculus Quest, the release of Half-Life: Alyx, and likely reinvigorated marketing and content for PSVR should at long last bring immersive gaming VR to notable market traction.

Cloud gaming continues to stutter – While I do expect Microsoft’s xCloud to begin establishing itself as a valuable addition to the Xbox slate of services, and PlayStation Now to gain more emphasis from Sony in messaging leading to the launch of PlayStation 5, I cannot see other cloud gaming initiatives gaining significant presence in 2020. Too many challenges exist around infrastructure, content and pricing to allow those competing services to make major market strides.

Dr. Serkan Toto, Kantan Games

Last Year’s Predictions

Switch Pro and Lite for 2019 – 50% correct. (But I got the “Lite” brand name right!)

More third-party Switch software and one new game from the mega-franchises owned by EA, Activision or Take-Two – Correct. Switch is closing in on 3,000 titles and Overwatch was released.

No PS5 or new Xbox launch – Correct.

No breakthrough in gaming for crypto, blockchain, VR and AR – Correct.

No real competitor for Steam – Incorrect. Epic is shaping up to become a real PC platform powerhouse.

More China and Korea power in Japan – Correct. (For example, Tencent just launched its first mobile app in Japan using a significant marketing budget.)

2020 Predictions

Switch Pro launch – There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nintendo will launch a “Switch Pro” in 2020, my guess is at $399. More specifically, I predict 4K support, bigger cartridge sizes, and of course beefed-up components. I also think the device will launch after the summer holidays to counter the roll-out of the PS5 and next-gen Xbox later in the year – along with a first-party, system-seller game.

More Microsoft games on the Switch – The love affair between Microsoft and Nintendo is likely to continue, with more big Xbox games landing on the Switch. I am skeptical about xCloud coming to the Nintendo device in 2020, however.

Similar launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X – Both consoles will be a lot more similar to each other in terms of specs, pricing and features when compared to the last generation. Microsoft will likely avoid shenanigans like higher price (I expect $499 price tags for both), weaker specs, restrictions to used disc sales etc. I also expect no handheld versions, a PSVR 2, and only a single device (instead of a PS5 standard and Pro, for example) for both companies at launch.

Cloud gaming will have its first big moment – After Google’s more than rough start with Stadia in late 2019, 2020 should bring us a first glimpse into how decent cloud gaming could look like in the future and at scale. Amazon and Netflix will announce their cloud gaming plans. My money here is on xCloud and its mobile support out of the gate, supported by 5G.

Further rise of subscriptions – I expect Sony to finally roll PlayStation Now and Plus into one price in 2020. Microsoft is also likely to add xCloud to one of their already existing service bundle deals. Next year, Nintendo will also add N64 games to Switch Online. These services mark a major turning point for the business model of video gaming – even though on mobile, I predict Apple Arcade to lose its thunder in 2020 already.

Spectacular game on mobile from Nintendo – At the time of writing, Nintendo still hasn’t announced what comes after Mario Kart Tour for smart devices. The follow-up must be a big name, so I expect another hit franchise from the company to land on mobile in 2020, i.e. a Zelda app or Smash Bros (don’t laugh) co-developed with a new partner. Next year should also see the release of the first Nintendo apps in mainland China.

(source:gamesindustry.biz


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