A recent report from Newzoo expects the global gaming market to reach a smashing $102 billion by 2017, at an annual growth rate of 8%. The researchers behind the study claim that social, online and mobile gaming are all trends that will be shaping global game markets towards 2017. But how can anyone even begin to grasp the complexity of such a market? One way to do it is by looking at different national markets separately and judging whether they're really moving in a similar direction.
Here are 3 case studies to get you started. 3 different nations, 3 different continents and 3 completely different gaming cultures. Hop on to see how gamers cultivate their hobby around the world and how local gaming industries respond to their varied needs.
Everyone was convinced that online gaming was on its way to becoming the new national sport. But recent developments on this incredibly dynamic market show that South Korean gaming industry is now plummeting under strict government regulations.
South Korean government not only has a say in what type of games are created and published, but also how many hours a gamer can spend on their hobby. Just to be clear, the limit is four hours.
These restrictions were a real blow to the industry, eliminating more than half game developers from the market. Data from the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) offers a clear picture – while in 2009, there were 30,535 game developers operating in the country, in 2014 South Korea had only 14,440 active developers.
Fourth largest gaming market after China, the US and Japan, South Korea brings about $8.3 billion annual revenue (that's 6.7% of the global market). But these regulations have successfully curbed its growth and insiders talk about an imminent crisis.
What added to the general public opinion about gaming is the passing of the so-called 'addiction bill' which considers gaming addition in similar terms to drug and alcohol dependence. Many Koreans are today interested in the impact of gaming on everyday life, naturally affecting the expansion of the industry.
But last year's celebrated launch of Star Craft in a prestigious Gangam location speaks for itself – there are still lots of gamers left in the country and the market isn't broken at all.
This is a curious case study. The thing about this industry is that it's about much more than just games that focus on imagined attacks on Israel. In fact, examples like that only lead to further misrepresentation of Iran’s budding gaming community.
Game development communities claim that such products don't come from them and serious gamers steer clear of them too. Severe economic sanctions dating back to 1979 Islamic revolution had a huge impact on Iran's trade with other countries, effectively isolating the nation from Western-produced products, including games.
With sanctions relief granted to Iran at the beginning of 2016, however, the gaming industry expects easier access to the global market. Iranian gamers now can have credit cards and buy games from App and Play stores, as well as the PlayStation Network. Big-name publishers will be making their appearance on the previously forbidden market too. And that's good news to all the 18 million Iranian gamers, according to a survey conducted by Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation.
With sanctions relief, the Iranian gaming market is opening up to many new opportunities. One thing experts note here is that Iran might become a new outsourcing heaven for large developers, with overall cheaper production costs and incredible human capital.
Moving on to the African continent, we find a the curious market of South Africa. For an average South African, however, gaming is still quite an expensive hobby. Still, there are more gamers that you'd suspect. But until the country's economic inequalities are resolved, a full gaming industry targeting both white and non-white South Africans won't have a chance to bloom.
Consider the fact that until 2007, the South African market was inundated with PCs and knock-off consoles. Experts agree that South Africa doesn't boast a large market for expensive consumer goods.
But a new, post-apartheid generation born after 1994 is now growing up – in fact, the first graduates of game design programs are now entering the job market and they might be the ones to show the rest of the world what South Africans can do when it comes to gaming.
What can we learn from different gaming markets?
Judging by these three cases, it's clear that it's the economy in combination with politics that affect the growth of national gaming industries. It's only by addressing these problems in their development strategies that game developers from these countries and big names that want to expand stand a chance at driving the global market to its predicted growth.
About the author: Amelia Knott is a tech team member at AuBiz.net - a free online ABN lookup tool. She is passionate about games and interested in gaming industry. She gives lectures about the business of making games around the globe.