It’s An Exciting Time for Gamers. Artificial Intelligence Technologies like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Blockchain Promise To Reinvent the Experience, and There’s Good News For Marketers As Well. Here’s Our Take on Trends in The World of Gaming
(1) Real Ownership Rights
According to an IDG Consulting report in 2017, sales of virtual goods raked in more than $80 Billion of the total gaming industry’s revenue of $103 Billion. The top five grossing games that year were free-to-play, a model which generates income from sales of in-game content.
Further, the video games are the world’s largest entertainment industry with approximately 1 in 3 people partaking. With only 400 million of the total 2 billion gamers actively trading virtual content, this market represents a huge opportunity.
Hoard aims to disrupt the video game industry by enabling true ownership of virtual items and downloadable content using blockchain technology. imapp, the company which conceived and initiated the development of Golem, a decentralized, blockchain-based market for computing power, has recently announced an investment in Hoard.
The Hoard platform aims to facilitate 3 main outcomes:
- Global marketplace for game items
- A revolutionary new model of game financing
- Virtual employment opportunities
Hoard is founded by Martin Amor, a gaming industry veteran who was lead programmer of one of the first sci-fi MMORPGs, Anarchy Online, technical producer of the Hitman series and technology director IO Interactive. Its co-founder is Wendell Davis, a tech entrepreneur who was involved early on some of the largest blockchain projects, including Ethereum, Golem, Cosmos, OmiseGO and Streamr.
(2) Influencers Turn Stakeholders
In an industry first, US/UK startup Qutee, developer of an advanced new data-driven comments platform for collecting digital community insights, has announced that it is offering key influencers a stake in the business as an incentive for growing its user base.
The firm, whose platform is currently in beta, has already granted stock to emerging tech/gaming influencers – and committed Qutee users – Huzzy, MarzBar and Phylol. All three have successfully migrated their audiences over to the Qutee platform, where they can, for the first time, categorize, filter and analyze comments and poll data in real time, gaining deeper audience insights and feedback to help improve their YouTube content and also collect feedback for brand and agency partners.
In a bid to democratize the success of the platform, Qutee is offering other influencers/bloggers who successfully build a strong digital community on the platform the opportunity to become early-stage partners in the business.
Qutee’s technology platform makes online discussion trackable, archivable, discoverable and permanent so that insights and commentary can be easily identified, categorized, filtered and analyzed. Qutee analyses and organizes every comment made within a community, collects poll data and sentiment analysis on every discussion started, and provides a world-class analytics dashboard that influencers can use for free, making it easier to filter out inane or irrelevant comments and quickly hone in on useful insight.
(3) Advertising To Players
Versus is offering brands a relevant way to access the 2.6 Billion people who play PC, console, and mobile games – driving engagement for brands and game developers – while allowing players to play the games they love for real prizes.
Versus’ prizing and promotions platform allows game developers and brands to come together to offer prize-based matches to players, all integrated directly into the games.
It’s a rare triple-win for the gaming industry: For gamers, it means no more annoying pop-ups, takeovers, or banner ads. It also includes relevant prizes, gift cards and discounts. For brands, it promises pure, targeted brand engagement using technology that matches prizes to players, encouraging them to buy more. For developers, it allows a new advertising revenue stream, and gives gamers more incentives to play for longer, and more frequently.
Versus is protecting its platform with patent filings. Since 2014, Versus has been filing patents, which are pending, which in the digital era are the foundations of some of the world’s biggest companies. Patents are essential to the valuation of technology companies.
(4) ‘LinkedIn’ Of The Gaming Realm
For the first time ever, graphic designers, video and fx experts, and all types of skilled gamers can offer their services online and get paid through the same network where thousands of active and engaged gamers are competing for glory.
In line with major trends in the gaming industry, Gizer is focused on providing a seamless mobile experience for the network. In 2018, mobile gaming is estimated to account for roughly 50 percent of the global games market annual revenue. The launch of both iOS and Android applications puts the company right at the heart of this global growth and acceptance. The potential is limitless with opportunities in the $115 billion a year industry. Statistics show that there are just above 2.3 billion gamers worldwide, with eSports enjoying 215 million of the total number of gamers.
In November 2017, the company entered into partnerships with two blockchain companies in the VR/AR space: Gaze Coin, which is focused on eye-tracking and developer monetization, and Reality Clash, a studio building an augmented reality FPS game for mobile. The partnerships marked a major inroad to delivering full eSports experiences in VR. The companies seek together to help introduce lower barriers to entry and a diverse range of monetization opportunities for hosts and their eSports organizations.
Gizer was selected by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top 14 blockchain companies to watch out for in 2018. The product? An online gaming platform and community that integrates competitive gaming, player interaction and the monetizing of gaming-related skills. Gizer currently boasts thousands of engaged players on its platform, with users in over 45 countries; living up to its title as the “Global Gaming Network”.
(5) Blockchain Gamifies Token Sales
Mego Corp, a blockchain focused video games studio, and Tapinator, Inc, a leading publisher of mobile games and applications on the iOS, Google Play, Amazon and Ethereum platforms, today announced the launch of Darkwinds, a revolutionary, blockchain-based card trading game.
World of Ether, a crypto-collectible dApp, was previously only accessible on desktop with MetaMask. With Toshi, users can now play on mobile devices. The partnership gives Toshi, which is just over half a year old, new users and anonymous usage data to better assist development. The game is accessed through the Toshi interface and looks exactly like a mobile responsive version would look. The pages that require the Ethereum blockchain are completely viewable and users can transfer fiat to ETH in order to buy presale eggs.
World of Ether was contacted by Toshi, which was seeking strong dApp teams to partner with, within a week of their presale release. “Toshi makes decentralized technology available to everybody, a goal that we are fully aligned with,” said Ram Berrouet, World of Ether’s Head of Product. “We’re hoping that our game as well will introduce decentralized technology to many new users across the globe.”
World of Ether is currently listed in Toshi’s featured section and is translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and French. The game launched its new affiliate program late last week, which rewards affiliates 100 USD, paid in ETH, for each egg sold. In World of Ether, players hatch eggs into monsters, and collect, battle, breed, sire, and sell these monsters.
(6) Playing with Mixed-Reality
Snapchat operator Snap has acquired British virtual reality and gaming start-up PlayCanvas for an undisclosed sum, according to Business Insider. PlayCanvas had raised about $590,000 since its founding in 2011.
Facebook just announced a new headset that is not tethered and will run VR on its own – how exciting is that? The Oculus Go may just change the business, but only time will tell.
The HoloSuit, a full body analytics wearable platform, can enable a different kind of sports training that blends the real and virtual worlds. A product of India-based Kaaya Tech, the HoloSuit can cover the body with motion sensors with a jacket, pants and gloves so that body motion in the real world can be tracked, stored and virtualized.
At present, keen players in the global mixed reality in gaming market are pouring money into research and development and setting up new facilities for innovation. Collaborations and partnerships is another notable trend observed among key players is this market. For instance, recently, Microsoft collaborated with HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Acer to develop mixed reality headsets that are expected to be released soon.
Some of the prominent participants in the global mixed reality in gaming market are Canon Inc., Dagri LLC, Infinity Augmented Reality Inc., Magic Leap Inc., Microsoft Corporation (HoloLens), Recon Instruments Inc., Seiko Epson Corporation, Ubisoft Entertainment, CCP hf , HTC Corporation, Lenovo Group Ltd., Meta Company, Osterhout Design Group, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.
More exciting news in this space – Weta Workshop has officially opened its newest facility, Weta Gameshop, thought to be the world’s first specialist mixed reality development studio dedicated to creating new content for Magic Leap. Located a stone’s throw from Weta Workshop in the Wellington suburb of Miramar, Weta Workshop’s new division is working on a flagship game for Magic Leap’s soon to be released technology, Magic Leap One.
As per estimations of the TMR report, the demand for mixed reality in gaming, across the world, will increment at a whopping 38.06% CAGR during the forecast period between 2017 and 2025. By the end of the forecast period in 2015, the revenue in this market is projected to be worth $187.13 Million.
(7) Wearables To Watch Out For
Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses were awarded several best of awards and drew media interest from journalists and reporters around the globe at CES 2018. Vuzix is a leading supplier of Smart-Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and products for the consumer and enterprise markets. The Company’s products include personal display and wearable computing devices that offer users a portable high-quality viewing experience, provide solutions for mobility, wearable displays and virtual and augmented reality. Vuzix holds 59 patents and 42 additional patents pending and numerous IP licenses in the Video Eyewear field.
Goertek is showcasing its CES Innovation Award winning design – Elf. This latest Lightweight VR design uses the compacted lens solution to cut down 50% of the size and weight. Apart from Elf, Goertek has also presented a standalone VR HMD headset, which can support 6DoF tracking as well as interaction between the HMD and controllers without any external cameras or sensors. Other PC based VR at Goertek’s booth include hybrid fresnic + aspheric lens solutions that have realized obvious reduction in size and weight.
Vancouver-based startup BioInteractive Technologies Inc. has developed TENZR: the only accurate, hands-free, camera-free, wrist-worn gesture recognition controller for VR AR.
For the last three years the company has focused on developing an easy to use, comfortable, accurate, and reliable gesture recognition wearable that will help replace current mobile VR AR controllers. This innovative product will provide a more immersive experience to users by freeing the hand from holding bulky button-based controllers.
InGlove lets users feel virtual reality. They can touch textures and shapes and even feel temperatures of virtual objects using these high-tech gloves. The gloves also help with hand motion tracking in the VR space.
Of course, there are the big names we are all familiar with – Sony Computer Entertainment and Facebook, which owns the Oculus Rift. The Playstation VR library continues to grow with new games from indie and AAA developers each month. Add Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream to the list.
(8) Tools for developers
A welcome trend is the number of tools for developers to work on to create VR content.
Unity is an engine used to create 2D and 3D experiences across many platforms. It has three versions: Unity Plus and Unity Pro require a paid subscription, while Unity Personal offers free development and publishing for hobbyists.
Unreal Engine is an engine built entirely in C++ and used to create experiences across multiple platforms. Development is free but developers must pay royalties when the game or experience ships.
CryEngine offers a free engine providing developers access to the source code. Development is free but developers can choose to pay a license fee to gain access to additional support and training.
Lumberyard is a free engine from Amazon, reportedly based on CryEngine. Amazon released the source code, development is free, and developers pay for the Amazon Web Services they choose to use.
Blender is quickly becoming a favorite modeler for many VR developers. It’s free and open source software written in Python and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There’s a huge community of people devoted to this software and its use. Many websites provide tutorial videos, forums, and documentation.
(9) The Journey Of Storytelling
“LUCI wants to fundamentally change how people consume content by giving users the most visually stunning experience possible through wearable technology. We want users to be amazed by the nuances of every frame, every scene and every minute detail through an uncompromised viewing experience,” said Josh Littlefield, vice president of global sales and marketing for LUCI. “For users to truly experience powerful, emotionally moving narratives, we must first unbind them from the shackles of the limitations present in hardware today. LUCI is committed to helping all consumers experience content as creators intended their stories to be told, in emotional and meaningful ways.”
LUCI immers, which will begin production in Q2 of 2018, is the first in Ultra-HD wearable immersion-on-demand devices. With an impressive 3000+ PPI display, LUCI immers will be the engine to power all types of content, including 3D 4K, to allow for the most immersive experiences to date. LUCI immers delivers precise, brilliant and eye-catching colors that will leave the user deeply engaged by the exquisite beauty of the story.
LUCI immers is uniquely designed to effortlessly integrate into users’ daily lives, bringing comfort to the forefront and delivering moments of joyful disruption throughout the day. Weighing only 185 grams, users can experience content lying down, sitting or standing for extended periods of time. LUCI immers is the fusion of beautiful craftsmanship and technical ingenuity to become part of your daily carry, as portable and convenient as a pair of sunglasses.
To better understand what he means, check out Hyperverse which lets you choose-your-own-adventure in VR. Their experience Journey One is a location-based immersive multiplayer deep-dive into a disturbing and beautiful world of another’s consciousness. What is important—apart from the high-end technological base, this is an experience with a story in charge.
(10) Legend Jane Whittaker Joins XR Games
Gaming industry legend Jane Whittaker has joined the board and executive team of new VR studio XR Games. In a stellar 34-year career, spanning both gaming and general entertainment, Jane has led teams across both product and corporate business development. Jane has held senior management and board roles at Atari (11 yrs), MGM (5 yrs), and EA (14 yrs). He has also provided high-level advice to the board of companies like Softbank (8 yrs) and Microsoft (14 yrs). Jane has been five times winner of the programmer of the year award, won numerous best game awards and other industry accolades, and – despite reaching board room level – has continued to lead and develop products. Jane’s portfolio includes mega-hits as GoldenEye 007 (N64), Alien vs. Predator, The Sims, HR Giger’s Darkseed and major contributions to Microsoft Flight Simulator.
At XR Games, Jane’s title will be Chief Hopping Officer. The title was coined initially by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to spotlight Whittaker’s wide-ranging expertise and ability to simultaneously hop between roles in a corporate environment, operating creatively, technically and leading business development.
Jane has a long history in VR, including managing the VR team at Atari, developing titles such as the VR version of Alien VS Predator for the Atari Jaguar and is regarded as a lead visionary in 3D technology.