During the pandemic, it was nearly impossible for manufacturers to keep up with consumers’ insatiable appetite for video games. Many will remember the images of haggard-looking consumers waiting in vain outside of BestBuy, Target, and many other retail outlets in the hopes of securing one of the scarce new PS5 or Xbox Series X consoles, which, in many cases, were hitting resale platforms such as StockX at nearly double MSRP.
Of course, this dynamic was not solely unique to the gaming market. Between 2020 and 2022, Much of the consumer tech sector fought a losing battle with a crippled supply chain and global chip shortage that resulted in barren shelves and exorbitant wait times.
Despite the entire market being affected, challenges in gaming were especially pronounced as the sector’s growth rate significantly outpaced that of the rest of the consumer tech industry.
According to S&P Market Intelligence, gaming experienced a remarkable 30 percent year-over-year growth rate over the second quarter of 2020. By comparison, per research from the Business Research Company, the global CE market grew by only 10 percent in 2020.
For many, this booming popularity made gaming the face of pandemic-era entertainment; a dynamic that has made the sector’s post-pandemic decline especially pronounced. In 2022, the global gaming market declined by 4.3 percent, causing companies such as Ubisoft, a major game developer, to significantly cut full-year revenue targets.
While traditional gaming was a great mechanism to keep kids and adults alike connected with peers during long stretches of grueling isolation during the pandemic, the sector’s post-pandemic decline begs the question: Where is the market headed from here?
Gaming Is a Dynamic Industry
Fortunately, the answer is not all doom and gloom. The gaming sector still had a healthy revenue of $184.4 billion in 2022 and there are new technologies in the augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and extended reality (XR) spheres that have the potential to upend traditional perceptions of the industry.
Moreover, there are new growth realms that the gaming industry has yet to tap into. As Scott Burnett, managing director of Consumer Electronics at IBM, said in an exclusive interview with Dealerscope: “The real question is: When is gaming going to become more in the mainstream of education? The technology, the capabilities, the unreal engine, the AI elements and supplements, everything that you can do with gaming, I think is just sitting here as a next-generation educational platform.”
To Burnett’s point, the gaming industry is significantly more dynamic than it is given credit for, which is a major contributor to the fact that, despite decreasing sales in 2022, the market is still expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.2 percent to $545.98 billion by 2028, according to Fortune Business Insights.
The Future of Gaming Will Be Powered by XR
Augmented and virtual reality solutions are set to be some of the main technologies driving this growth due, in large part, to a burgeoning phenomenon referred to as “real-world gamification.” As the name implies, this term describes the application of game mechanisms and gaming technologies to help accomplish tasks in everyday life.
This paradigm shift to using AR, VR, and XR gaming technologies in application to other industries is what many experts believe will be the true breakthrough for gaming over the next decade.
As Rolf Illenberger, founder and CEO of VRdirect, predicted to Dealerscope: “Most people will have their first experience with VR, AR, and XR at the workplace and will then consider buying a device at home.”
Just take a look at Apple’s Vision Pro Headset, unveiled back in June. The device is much more than a VR gaming headset. It is designed to make workflow and entertainment more immersive and visually interactive for the user. According to Apple, the goal of the headset is to “blend digital content with your physical space.”
With 5 sensors, 12 cameras, and a 4K display for each eye, the Apple Vision Pro allows users to capture and immerse themselves in 180-degree video. The device also allows users to project digital media such as texts, FaceTime tiles, or an internet browser into their physical space. Finally, users can browse rows of apps all without the use of a controller, simply by utilizing voice commands or the device’s tap-and-flick control mechanism.
Arguably, the most revolutionary aspect of the Apple Vision Pro, which retails for a not-so-meager $3,499, is that it fully integrates into Apple’s connected ecosystem of products. This aspect gives the category a dynamism that has been lacking among previous headsets, such as the Meta Quest 2 and the Sony PlayStation VR2, which have primarily focused on gaming.
Burnett echoed the expansive potential of AR, VR, and XR in practical applications: “Look at everything we have been learning from gaming that could be applied to other industries. When you look at AR and VR capabilities for, say, a refrigerator repair service technician, they can bring in a heads-up display with the manual, instructions, or parts needed to fix the break – all in real-time, which is really exciting.”
Such practical applications of AR, VR, and XR gaming technology are set to be one of the true drivers of industry growth. Fortune Business Insights quantifies the explosive growth potential of the AR, VR, and XR market in its market forecast for the next seven years. According to the report, the AR industry, which is currently worth $62.75 billion, is set to grow at a blazing 50.7 percent CAGR to $1,109.71 billion by 2030.
Some may argue that these new use cases for gaming technology will require a new, unique designation. That may well be the case. However, whether or not the market decides this application of AR, VR, and XR technology falls under the umbrella of gaming, one fact is undeniable: The line between gaming and real-life productivity is becoming increasingly blurred, and the hardware used to power them looks very similar.