It’s really mind-blowing stuff for us veteran gaming fans and a canny business move by the Internet giant. Last year, the gaming industry generated $138 billion in revenues globally, with approximately half of this amount coming from mobile gaming alone. With revenue growth expected to continue at 25% a year and the advent of cloud-based gaming fast approaching, it’s clear that Google is hoping to capitalise on the fantastic opportunities that edge computing affords and develop its user base among the 2.3 billion active gamers worldwide.
Around half of this huge gaming community is located in the Asia-Pacific region, with 80% of mobile gaming taking place on smartphones. This development, along with the rise of a new generation of data centres, signals a massive opportunity for game developers.
Winning in this environment, however, also means game developers need to gear up for a very different technology paradigm. To help them prepare for this change, it’s interesting to look back at where the gaming industry began and anticipate where it’s going to go to next.
Winding it back a bit
It’s been 37 years since Commodore International released its trailblazing 8-bit home computer, the Commodore 64 — thus kicking off the global games market.
To this day, it remains the highest-selling computer of all time. Launched at the humble price of US$595 (US$1,545 in current dollars) — and with a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM (its namesake) it promised better audio and visuals than anything on the market. With it, Commodore promised to show gamers ‘the world of the future.’
While it certainly seemed futuristic when I myself first got one in the late 1980s, I doubt it would be quite the same feeling to un-box one today, sitting in 2019 :-) . Rewinding a Commodore Datasette, as was the standard then in the UK, and waiting an agonisingly long time for the screen to appear would rather trump the nostalgia factor.
The Commodore 64 did, however, herald the dramatic development of gaming and its global audience. Assembly-line setups of Space Invaders championships in 1980s America had people sitting cheek to cheek competing for the highest score.