Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Predictions of facebook games, free play and the return of PC gaming

PC Gaming will challenge to console market, gamers will expect free games, but be willing to buy add-ons as well as drop $50 for the bigger titles in 2010.

Who says?

The people at GamersFirst, the self-proclaimed popular free2play online game destination.

"The next year will mark some pretty significant shifts in the gaming industry," said Joshua Hong, CEO of GamersFirst. "We see casual players becoming the key to the global video game industry in both PC and Console games. MMO Game development has witnessed a paradigm shift that has begun to address the interests of all cultural and social demographics; exposing the 'gamer' in everyone and highlighting on of our personal corporate mission, of putting Gamers First!"

The GamersFirst team has developed major gaming trends to watch for; predicting that the online gaming industry will regain some of its pizzazz over the next year and increasing fierce competition between MMO games globally.

1. What's in your Shopping Cart? Games analysts Justin Smith and Charles Hudson predict that virtual goods will reach $1 billion in the US in 2010. It's no wonder! Outside of virtual goods in other online markets (like cell phones, retail, gambling, etc.), the interest and potential of purchasing online goods in MMO's is unmarked. In 2010, virtual goods will overflow the market and garner record growth in the MMO market.

"Virtual items in Knight Online can be valued anywhere from $0 to $500 USD (maybe more), it just depends on how much the player wants the item and how difficult it is to get," says Joey Hibberd, associate producer of Knight Online at GamersFirst about KOL's virtual economy.

2. The Global PC Explosion - Although, North America has maintained a consistent following of console games; Online PC games are putting up a challenge against some of their better known console "cousins". Trends in the past year have shown extreme promise in Latin America and East and Central European countries. New and region localized game development are surfacing from emerging countries, thus we predict the big three markets for PC gaming adoption and development for 2010 will be explosive in Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle-East.

3. Catching CyberCrime - Online fraud, hacking and security continues to be heightened concerns in 2010- companies that can handle all the difficulties presented by the new global game space will have huge advantages when delivering the product to gamers. In 2010, Cybercrime will be tackled using a combination of technologies, pattern analysis and close collaboration with International law enforcement agencies.

"Online security is consistent point of contention for online businesses," says Bjorn Book-Larsson, COO and CTO of GamersFirst. "It is important to handle fraud and hacking carefully, both at a personal and technological level. GamersFirst takes security very seriously, so that we can provide our gamers with the most positive experience possible."

4. Core Free2Play Games Emerge - In the past 5-10 years people expected to play more casual games for free; but were also expected to pay $50 for large scale 3D "boxed" games. Big-time publishers are now adopting the long-running Asian trend of Free2Play games and creating true immersive core game experiences for the Free2Play gamer. With the increase of quality of PC games and the varietal of content in the genre; content will be the most important draw to the core gaming experience; moving gamers towards steadily evolving Free2Play games. The desire for ever-changing content and community participation will drive gamers to Free2Play MMO's in 2010.

5. The Rise of the Picky Gamer - Gamers will fragment further to specialty and niche games. The number of leisure (casual gamers) will increase two-fold throughout the year, increasing opportunity for development and increased competition in the market.

6. Gaming in the Cloud -One of the biggest downsides to playing most online PC games is their lack of portability. 2010 will bring the emergence of cloud technologies for gaming. This method of game delivery will give gamers the more consistent and portable game delivery methods that are traditionally tied with console gaming. The integration of cloud technologies will compliment PC game delivery methods, especially in the Free2Play space.

7. You are not alone - The NPD Group, a research analyst firm, reported that online gaming as a whole has increased from 19 to 25 percent in 2009. This shows a steady rise of both PC and console online gaming, with a clear break for MMO games. The development of MMO games will increase two-fold over 2010, increasing community game involvement and the overall gaming audience on a global scale.

8. Catch me on FaceBook! - Mafia Wars paved the way for social gaming applications on both MySpace and Facebook. The potential for social gaming is far more than what has been utilized so far with social gaming apps like Mafia Wars, and more recently Farmville. Social gaming will overflow social networks with targeted and very specific applications for each type of online personality.

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