What is the future of the video game

Video Games Day - A look into the future of gaming

July 8th marks the "day of video games" every year. As one of the most important entertainment media of our time, video games have a long and eventful past. Nowadays every household cannot be imagined without them and they are among the most popular leisure activities for young and old. With a turnover in the gaming industry of around 6.2 billion euros in 2019, video games are no longer a niche product. According to Statista, 34.3 million people will be playing video and computer games in Germany in 2020. Reason enough to review the previous success story of video games and take a look into the future of the industry. The comparison platform idealo has published some interesting data on this.

The gaming industry - what happened so far

When it comes to the first video games, most people think of the Atari video game console from 1977. However, the real history of the gaming industry began much earlier. The first attempts at this form of entertainment were made in 1946 in various universities. Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in particular pioneered this medium.

The coin-operated arcade machines made video games accessible to the general public for the first time in 1972. Nolan Bushnell's Atari company went into series production at an early stage and quickly made a name for itself. In specially built arcades, gamers could play legendary video games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man on the arcade machines.

A little later, game consoles made the leap into private households. The most famous home console of the 1970s is the Atari 2600. Now it was possible to play the popular arcade games Space Invaders, Pong and Pac-Man in your own four walls. The following decade was dominated by the first computer games and Japanese manufacturers. Nintendo laid the foundation for the triumphant advance of home consoles with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1986.

Here is a detailed rundown of the history of video games:


Facts and figures - How the gaming industry is currently doing

The last five years have shown a clear upward trend in the demand for console games. Overall, there was more demand for video games from online retailers than in previous years. PS4 games topped the list until the Nintendo Switch, released in March 2017, shook Sony's throne with a slight delay. While sales for the games of the PS4 and the XBOX One in 2019 weakened compared to 2018, Nintendo was able to record a plus with the Switch. The Switch received the necessary boost for this through a diversified marketing concept and the publication of strong titles from the popular video game series The Legend of Zelda, Mario and Pokemon. In online retail, this meant that sales of video games for the Switch exceeded that of the PS4 for the first time in the first half of 2020.


The growth of the gaming industry in recent years is surprisingly not reflected in the sales figures for PC games. PC games have been on a steady downward trend over the past five years. While the decline from 2016 to 2017 was still relatively small at 1.5 percent, in 2018 there was already a whopping 27 percent less demand. In the period from 2016 to 2020, overall PC games could not keep up with the sales figures for console games. There was 73 percent less demand for them than the PS4 and 34 percent less demand for the Nintendo Switch. The only thing that was worse was the demand for video games for the XBOX One. In the period under review, this was 37 percent lower than that of PC games.

If you compare the demand for console games in general, regardless of the manufacturer, and compare them with PC games, this development becomes even clearer. In 2016, the demand for console games was 76 percent higher than that for PC games. Console games were able to expand this lead to 90 percent in the current year 2020.

The majority of video games these days appear for multiple platforms. It is therefore worth taking a look at the versions that are most in demand. The console versions also have the edge here. Interestingly, this also applies to games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, whose multiplayer requires high computing power and pixel-perfect targeting. Actually predestined for PC gamers with a mouse and keyboard, the PC versions of these titles could not keep up with the demand for the respective console version. Only in the case of simulation games, such as SIMS and the farming simulator, is the demand for the console and PC version in online retail roughly equal.

The triumph of mobile gaming - the development of handhelds

More and more fans of video games are preferring mobile consoles. This trend can be seen in the steadily increasing demand for handhelds in online retailing since 2016. Nintendo was largely able to capture this market for itself and gave this category another strong boost with the Switch released in 2017. The slimmed-down version Switch Lite was also able to win over many gamers. But the older handhelds from Nintendo are still very popular.

The seasonal demand for game consoles

If you look at the strongest months for consoles, November and December are clearly the strongest months. This is unsurprising as game consoles and their video games are popular Christmas gifts. 2020 also shows a sharp increase in demand in March and April. This can be traced back to Corona and the associated curfew.

The evolution of video game prices

Fans of older game consoles have seen more payments over the past five years. The games for Nintendo DS, PSP and PS2 are between 38 and 50 percent more expensive. The prices of the games for PS4, XBOX One and Nintendo 3DS will fall from 2016 to 2020. Fans of these consoles have to put between 22 and 24 percent less on the table. With an average retail price of 29.08 euros in 2016 and 28.95 euros in 2020, the prices of PC games remained largely stable.


The most popular genres in recent years

Video games serve a wide variety of genres. From extensive adventures with sword in hand to action-packed military missions in the war zone to fast-paced races through the nightly streets of Miami. There is now something for every taste, which raises the question of the most popular genre. Since console manufacturers such as Nintendo are increasingly recruiting the younger generation, it is not surprising that children's games top this list with around 20 percent in online retail. This is followed by action with around 14 percent, closely followed by adventure games with around 13 percent. The open world (13 percent) and simulation (12 percent) genres are also popular. Jump’n’Run and games of skill bring up the rear with 0.4 and 1 percent, respectively.

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The most popular games over the past twelve months

Kid-friendly video games also top the list for the most popular games over the past twelve months. Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo for the Nintendo 3DS won first place in the console games. Minecraft tops the list of the most popular PC games. The top 5 of both platforms continues with titles from the action adventure genre.

If you look at the best-selling games of the individual consoles in online retail, a clear trend becomes apparent. The PS4 list consists mainly of action-adventure games and open-world titles. XBOX One fans were mostly interested in racing games. The target group of the Nintendo Switch is reflected in the most popular titles on the console - role, racing and jump-’n’-run games top the list of top titles.

Where do Germany's gamers sit?

It is worth taking a look at the regional demand for video games, consoles and accessories. Most gamers are based in northern Germany. The top is the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, followed by Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen. Schleswig-Holstein rounds off the north German trio in third place. Despite Gamescom, which takes place every year in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Ruhr area only ranks in the middle of the regional comparison. Only Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg show less demand for gaming products.

Can video games keep up with real leisure activities?

It is undisputed that the gaming industry has seen strong growth over the past five years. But how does the virtual gaming experience compare with real leisure activities? Online retailers that sell video games usually also offer “real” amusements in the form of soccer equipment, board games, children's vehicles, running, LEGO and outdoor toys. A comparison of the sales figures for these products with those from the gaming sector brings clarity.

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What does the future of the gaming industry look like?

Hardly any other industry has developed so quickly in the past few decades and reinvented it so often. Predictions about the future of gaming therefore offer plenty of room for a wide variety of assumptions. What is certain is that virtual and augmented reality will have a firm place in the future development of video games. In online retail, the demand for VR products and the associated games increased by around 50 percent between 2016 and 2018. After a small decrease of 5 percent in 2019, 2020 seems to be another strong year for VR accessories and games. In view of the ever-increasing selection of VR games and new possible uses for accessories, it can be assumed that more and more video game fans will dive into virtual reality in the future.