The computer games industry, as we now know it, started in the early 1980s. I was there at Imagine Software in Liverpool. Now at over 20 years old it has matured into a multi-billion-pound global industry. But, in my opinion, the truth of the matter is that you ain’t seen nothing yet.
It will grow to be bigger than television or the film industry.
In fact it will grow to be the biggest entertainment industry on earth, and here are some reasons why:
- Computer gaming is capable of doing hugely more than the limited range of genres we see now. In fact the industry has been held back by lack of vision in both hardware and software. Something I will come back to in a later article.
- It is interactive and the TV, cinema etc are not. This leads to vastly more capabilities and potentials. Traditional entertainment media also are forced to be linear by their very nature. Games are not and can follow flights of the imagination in unpredicted directions.
- It is connected. Potentially to every other person on earth. You can interact and play with and against others on a global scale. We are just beginning to see this with Xbox live and MMORPGs but these are only scratching the surface of the possibilities.
- It is still technologically immature. Think of the development in books, cinema and TV over the last decade (not much) then look at the development in games (huge). We have Moore’s Law on our side, but we have many other technical advances to come. Position sensors that see where you are and what you are doing and input it into the game, displays that look like moving colour photographs and which use a fraction of the power of LCDs, databases of the whole surface of the earth, and so on. In fact in the long term the reality will outperform predictions, it nearly always has with computers.
- Portability. You will have a gaming device with you wherever you go, in fact most of us already do with our phone, but that is primitive with what can and will be done in the future. Just wait till Apple decide to jack up revenues on successive generations of iPods and iPhones, for instance. In fact the future big hardware players are most likely to be Apple, Nokia (if they ever get their act together) and Nintendo. Mobile gaming will be bigger than home gaming, in fact the two will merge from a software point of view.
There are others, but these are the main drivers that I see. So what do you think? Post your thoughts about where the industry is going!