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  • Gamescom 2020: Key Gaming Directions

Published 15 September 2020

On August 27, over a million viewers globally watched the virtual opening ceremony of Gamescom, Europe's biggest gaming event, with developers compensating for lack of in-person hype with genre-crossing project reveals. We highlight six key trends to watch including casual competitions for curious newcomers, activating the next generation of creative prosumers and the TV/film studios scoring with gaming narratives.

Trend Duration
Now
2 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
15 yrs
20 yrs
Regional Focus
Trend Duration
Now
2 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
15 yrs
20 yrs

At A Glance

Topics

Regional Focus

Trend Duration
Now
2 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
15 yrs
20 yrs

Stats

1m+
Across the conference’s own website and media partner accounts, over a million viewers globally watched the virtual opening ceremony for Gamescom, Europe’s biggest gaming event, on August 27
$3.6bn
Consumer video game spending in the US totalled $3.6bn in July, an increase of 32% compared to July 2019, spurred by the pandemic
$26bn
Year-to-date video game spending in the US reached $26bn – 21% higher than the same period in 2019
400%
From April to June 2020, Nintendo experienced a 400% spike in users compared to the same time last year
$69bn
The Asian gaming market value is estimated at $69bn, 43% of the global market
$7.7bn
From January to March 2020, mobile gaming in China grew to 55bn yuan ($7.7bn), with a year-over-year growth rate of over 49%
7.6%
The percentage of Netflix adaptations in development in summer 2020 that will be based on video games
51%
More than 51% of Europeans aged six- to 64-years-old play video games
5bn
Amazon-owned video live-streaming platform Twitch amassed five billion hours of watched content from April to June 2020
75%
Hours watched on Facebook Gaming in Q2 2020 increased by 75% compared to Q1
76m
Globally, 76 million households watched Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher games, revealing the booming appetite for TV adaptations of popular games
77%
US gaming stocks index rose by 77% since the start of lockdown across America – Netflix’s stock rose by 44%
$77.2bn
Global consumer spending on mobile games is projected to be $77.2bn in 2020 – 48% of the entire gaming software market
1m+
Across the conference’s own website and media partner accounts, over a million viewers globally watched the virtual opening ceremony for Gamescom, Europe’s biggest gaming event, on August 27
$3.6bn
Consumer video game spending in the US totalled $3.6bn in July, an increase of 32% compared to July 2019, spurred by the pandemic
$26bn
Year-to-date video game spending in the US reached $26bn – 21% higher than the same period in 2019
400%
From April to June 2020, Nintendo experienced a 400% spike in users compared to the same time last year
$69bn
The Asian gaming market value is estimated at $69bn, 43% of the global market
$7.7bn
From January to March 2020, mobile gaming in China grew to 55bn yuan ($7.7bn), with a year-over-year growth rate of over 49%
7.6%
The percentage of Netflix adaptations in development in summer 2020 that will be based on video games
51%
More than 51% of Europeans aged six- to 64-years-old play video games
5bn
Amazon-owned video live-streaming platform Twitch amassed five billion hours of watched content from April to June 2020
75%
Hours watched on Facebook Gaming in Q2 2020 increased by 75% compared to Q1
76m
Globally, 76 million households watched Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher games, revealing the booming appetite for TV adaptations of popular games
77%
US gaming stocks index rose by 77% since the start of lockdown across America – Netflix’s stock rose by 44%
$77.2bn
Global consumer spending on mobile games is projected to be $77.2bn in 2020 – 48% of the entire gaming software market

Key Stats

Stats

1m+

Across the conference’s own website and media partner accounts, over a million viewers globally watched the virtual opening ceremony for Gamescom, Europe’s biggest gaming event, on August 27

$3.6bn

Consumer video game spending in the US totalled $3.6bn in July, an increase of 32% compared to July 2019, spurred by the pandemic

$26bn

Year-to-date video game spending in the US reached $26bn – 21% higher than the same period in 2019

400%

From April to June 2020, Nintendo experienced a 400% spike in users compared to the same time last year

$69bn

The Asian gaming market value is estimated at $69bn, 43% of the global market

$7.7bn

From January to March 2020, mobile gaming in China grew to 55bn yuan ($7.7bn), with a year-over-year growth rate of over 49%

7.6%

The percentage of Netflix adaptations in development in summer 2020 that will be based on video games

51%

More than 51% of Europeans aged six- to 64-years-old play video games

5bn

Amazon-owned video live-streaming platform Twitch amassed five billion hours of watched content from April to June 2020

75%

Hours watched on Facebook Gaming in Q2 2020 increased by 75% compared to Q1

76m

Globally, 76 million households watched Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher games, revealing the booming appetite for TV adaptations of popular games

77%

US gaming stocks index rose by 77% since the start of lockdown across America – Netflix’s stock rose by 44%

$77.2bn

Global consumer spending on mobile games is projected to be $77.2bn in 2020 – 48% of the entire gaming software market

1. Mainstream Media Latches On

Lockdown has driven explosive growth in the gaming sector, as a way to both stay connected with others and distracted from the news (see Key Stats) – motivating, mainstream media outlets to establish or firm up their connections to gaming audiences.

American newspaper The Washington Post's gaming vertical Launcher took off in October 2019, while in April 2020, US news organisation Bloomberg added gaming to its new industry insights newsletter Screentime, which covers the future of entertainment (describing gaming as "a business that eclipsed Hollywood years ago").

In August, US tech magazine Wired announced the October 2020 launch of Wired Gaming.

2. TV & Film Companies Scoring with Gaming Narratives

Film and TV production companies are securing rights to tell stories that originated in gaming. Following the success of its 2019 adaptation of The Witcher (76 million global household viewings), 7.6% of Netflix's upcoming TV adaptations will be based on video games (Ampere Analysis, 2020). In June, Netflix announced a 10-episode anime series based on Polish The Witcher developer CD Project Red's upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077, which took the award for best game at Gamescom 2020.

Meanwhile, HBO is developing an adaptation of the zombie apocalypse game The Last of Us, and Indie hit My Friend Pedro will be adapted into a show by the writer of the John Wick films.

Cyberpunk 2077

3. Movie Franchises’ Colossal Gaming Crossovers

Disney has partnered with Fortnite to host an entire season that crosses into the (Disney-owned) Marvel comics universe. The new season launched on August 27, which will run until November 30 2020, is called Nexus War, and lets players unlock Marvel heroes including Iron Man, She-Hulk, and Thor to defeat supervillain Galactus who threatens Fortnite's game world.

Marvel simultaneously released a comic (online and in print) to explain how Fortnite and Marvel's universes came to overlap.

Disney also used Gamescom's opening night to announce a Star Wars tie-in for life simulation series The Sims. The Star Wars: Journey to Batuu game pack will bring signature characters, items, and environments from the film franchise to The Sims games. See also TBS Launches Sims Reality Competition Show.

Fortnite x Marvel Nexus War
Fortnite x Marvel Nexus War

4. Games Go Multimedia: Companion Content

League of Legends (which has 80 million active monthly players) is extending its relevance with shrewd media partnerships and companion content, produced in-house.

On August 24, Spotify unveiled a partnership with US League of Legends developer Riot Games for editorial audio content distributed through Spotify's app. The deal covers curated playlists and podcast series covering Riot Games' esport leagues. Already confirmed is Untold Stories: Top Moments from Worlds, a nine-episode series leading up to the 10th League of Legends world championship from September 25 to October 31 in Shanghai with top esports athletes' interviews. There will also be behind-the-scenes insight into the creation of the Worlds Anthem, a song Riot releases every year to celebrate the championship.

Music plays a large role in the League of Legends community: the game's official artist account on Spotify compiles the game's soundtracks as well as the Worlds Anthems, other tribute songs, and works by K/DA, a K-Pop group made up of characters from the game which has over five million monthly listeners. For existing players, League of Legends' sprawling music catalogue as well as an animated series being produced in-house add depth to the gameplay experience. For those who have never played, they are new entry points into the universe.

5. Prosumers Activate Artist Access Points

Games like Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft, and Crayta – where player-creators build levels and items with the community – have brought forth a highly creative generation of gamers who even receive commission on items other players like. See Roblox in our report Powering the Brand of Self in the Dynamic Youth: Gen Z Spotlight.

The next phase of this is social gaming ecosystems as we're seeing with Nintendo's Animal Crossing (22.4 million copies sold), where anything from a dress design (check out Creative Content: Fandom Fills the Gap) to a new song can be published into an instantly playable game world.

British mobile developer Gismart combines creative collaboration with monetisation channels with its Games for Artists programme, which lets musicians promote themselves and their work in Gismart's games through music integrations or walk-ons of lookalike characters. Also, artists who contribute to games creatively will also receive profit shares.

As games become co-created environments, access points for brands open up. In August, we saw women's personal care brand Gillette collaborate with a graphic artist to launch a body-positivity campaign through the costume creation tools of Animal Crossing.

Gillette x Animal Crossing
Gillette x Animal Crossing

6. Casual Competition Hooks Newcomers

Friendly competition is a good-vibes environment for brand engagement. With millions of new players entering gaming, accessible competitive gaming that does not require a hardcore gamer's dedication to score a win against other online players is compelling the masses.

August 2020's mega-hit Fall Guys – which sold seven million copies in three weeks – puts a playful spin on the Battle Royale format: 60 contestants at a time compete against each other in a series of mini games (some of which are in randomised groups to share the pressure) instead of facing off against single players in armed combat. Gameplay is quick, takes equal amounts of skill and luck, and alleviates performance pressure without compromising the joy of victory.

Meanwhile, Super Mario Bros 35 Nintendo will turn the classic platformer game into split-screen face-offs for 35 players at a time. Each player runs through levels simultaneously but on their own, and enemies they defeat are sent to other players' courses, until only one player survives.

In early September, US alcoholised water brand Bud Light Seltzer hosted a casual tournament among gaming content creators. Instead of assembling the best esports athletes, one title, "Battle of the Best" tapped into the energy of friendly couch competition by making (non-gaming) influencers challenge each other across four popular games from across genres (Warzone, Halo 3, Golf with Friends, and Fall Guys).

Fall Guys
Fall Guys
Fall Guys
Bud Light Seltzer

Connect Through Prosumers

Activate in the Metaverse

As we highlighted in Post-Covid Entertainment Trends, there's a critical prosumer-generated content revolution emerging from gaming. From providing creative tools for hobbyist skin and level designers to sponsoring affiliated content creators, recalibrate your platforms to connect to vast amounts of insider creativity in and around gaming.

As we highlighted in Post-Covid Entertainment Trends, there's a critical prosumer-generated content revolution emerging from gaming. From providing creative tools for hobbyist skin and level designers to sponsoring affiliated content creators, recalibrate your platforms to connect to vast amounts of insider creativity in and around gaming.

Future Insights

Connect Through Prosumers

As we highlighted in Post-Covid Entertainment Trends, there's a critical prosumer-generated content revolution emerging from gaming. From providing creative tools for hobbyist skin and level designers to sponsoring affiliated content creators, recalibrate your platforms to connect to vast amounts of insider creativity in and around gaming.

Activate in the Metaverse

As social distancing continues, the metaverses of social online games like Fortnite and Roblox are readymade virtual events spaces – heralding a new era where gaming will perform many of the current functions of social media. With these communities maturing (Fortnite just opened a LA studio built specifically for in-game concerts), capitalise with branded events in-game to rival IRL activations.