A study has found that revenues from the global digital games market are set to reach the $100 billion milestone by the end of this year.

Juniper’s annual report, Future Games Market: Emerging Opportunities & Pivotal Publisher Analysis 2017-2021, found that, contrary to previous concerns, the PC market has seen reinvigoration via free to play (F2P) games. Coupled with the continued growth of mobile, the industry will see total revenues reach $132 billion by 2021.

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Many of the games work on the basis of competitive play

Juniper Research senior analyst Lauren Foye spoke to IBC 365 on what is driving the rise in online gaming: “Particularly on PC, online gaming has been driven by the popularity of F2P; this monetisation strategy is set to account for over 78% of PC revenues by 2021. Many of these games work on the basis of competitive play, as such users engage in online multiplayer game play.

“Additionally we have seen a change in the genres popular with gamers, currently multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are seeing a surge in popularity and hold strong ties with eSports, again emphasising competitive online multiplayer gaming.”

Juniper found Supercell to be the clear market leader, effectively monetising consumers through engaging games, highly rated by consumers. The research advised that publishers such as Niantic must create longevity and engagement, lest they see drop-off in terms of active users.

The outlook for the mobile industry is positive. Publishers are now seeking to integrate in-game advertising. The research found that this will be most effective when users opt-in; watching a short video to provide players with additional in-game credits can be marketed alongside paid options for an ‘ad-free experience’.

Foye commented: “Smartphones and tablets draw in a more casual and middle-aged demographic of gamers. This group also tends to see a higher proportion of female players.

“With console and PC gamers, these are on average more likely to be male. There is a suggestion that PC gamers are on average younger than console gamers in the eSports industry. However, on average PC gamers are likely to be older since disposable income is required for upgrading of graphics cards and other components,” she said.

“There is a suggestion that PC gamers are on average younger than console gamers in the eSports industry”

– Lauren Foye, Juniper Research

The research noted rapid adoption of the F2P monetisation strategy on PC devices, where consumers are enticed into accessing a game which is free, before developers harness the freemium model; popularised by mobile games, in order to accelerate spend, with this accounting for almost 80% of the platform’s revenues by 2021.

“Juniper believes there is further opportunity for F2P on PC, particularly in Western markets; as well as console, with digital platforms such as Xbox Live playing host to F2P titles which are then monetised via in-game purchases and add-ons,” explained Foye.

On what type of games are most popular, Foye observed: “On PC massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and MOBAs are proving popular; for example League of Legends and DOTA 2. However there is also a strong market for premium games, where PC devices enable the highest fidelity experience in terms of graphics. Across home consoles, shooters and RPG games maintain their popularity, alongside sports titles such as FIFA. The setup of controllers on these devices makes them more suited to such games.

“Mobile devices continue to witness strong popularity of action and arcade games as well as RPG & Strategy, games which users can easily jump in and out of. Leading titles include Clash Royale, Candy Crush, and Game of War: Fire Age.”