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Free to Play and Casual Game Sales to Grow Faster than Hardcore Titles says Report

by Kyle Hanson


Market analysts at Technavio have taken a deep dive into the gaming industry and come up with a fresh report on what they expect from the future. The report, titled Global Online Gaming Market 2016-2020, makes some bold proclamations about where the gaming industry is headed, and while it looks good for everyone, it is looking much better for certain groups of games.

Hardcore games, such as Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Fallout are expected to have an annual growth rate of 5% over the coming four years. One stipulation is that Technavio was only looking at the digital sales of these games, which has been growing quite fast due to publishers putting more of an emphasis on the digital space. With actual retail sales possibly dropping over this same time period, hardcore gaming could have no, or very little growth.

Technavio highlighted the following developers as being the main contributors to hardcore gaming growth over this period: “Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Giant Interactive, GungHo Online, and Microsoft”.

On the other hand, casual games are expected to grow at an annual rate of 9%, eclipsing their hardcore brethren by quite a lot. Citing the ease with which these games can be picked up by almost anyone, casual games are looking at a very bright future. “Games such as Halo require intense time and attention commitments and thus are gradually receiving competition from simpler and lower-commitment games like Farmville.”

Finally, the report highlights the MMO genre, with a heavy emphasis on how the free-to-play model has reshaped the industry. With an expected growth rate of 13%, MMOs are looking quite healthy from this reports estimation. Much of the growth is expected due to what we’ve seen with World of Warcraft over the last couple of years.

“In 2014, World of Warcraft, a game initially released in 2004, experienced an increase of 600,000 subscribers globally following the release of its sequel game, Warlords of Draenor. One of the main reasons for the increase in the subscriptions is the inclusion of features such as micro-transactions and a partial free to play (F2P) component. The game developers are focusing on including partial or complete F2P options for the games being published as their demand is much higher than pay-to-play MMOs.”

The group is also including certain types of Fantasy Sports games with the MMO section, which will likely account for a lot of the expected growth as well, as that genre has really exploded over the last few years.

- This article was updated on:March 8th, 2018