ALTHOUGH IT'S NOT WHAT IT ONCE WAS, the PC and Mac gaming market is expected to flourish over the next few years, as analyst outfit International Data Corporation (IDC) has predicted growth in the digital games sector by 2017.
IDC's forecast predicts that PC and Mac gaming software and services will grow four percent per year globally between 2014 and 2017 to over $24bn, or £14.5bn, worldwide.
Perhaps this could result in a worldwide decline in the popularity of games consoles such as the Xbox and Playstation machines, as gamers increasingly look to digital gaming on PCs and Macs.
Driven by rising living standards in developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China, IDC's report said the "inability for gaming consoles to truly grasp the market in those economies" means digital PC and Mac gaming revenue outside the US "should expand by more than five percent per year" through 2017.
However, while the market is expected to grow, revenue across the global market is expected to slip over that period, which IDC said will mainly be down to "cannibalisation of casual browser games, such as Farmville 2, migrating to smartphones and tablets compounded by a steady drop in hardcore subscription revenue", for example Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft.
The growth of this digital market is coming from what IDC called "hardcore-oriented freemium titles such as Tencent's and Riot Games' League of Legends, Valve's Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2, Wargaming.net's World of Tanks, and a handful of Chinese MMORPGs".
"Other than the casino genre, it's been tough sledding for most casual-leaning PC game genres in the past year," said IDC research director Lewis Ward. "Demand for prepaid digital games should remain stable if not rise at the margins through 2017 partly because key developers, publishers, and platform providers will ramp up their offerings on HDTVs.
"The difference between what PCs, consoles, microconsoles, and perhaps even smart TVs will be able to deliver three years from now will be mostly semantic. The platforms that outperform will have great games, a wise mix of business models, an ability to strain key customer insights out of a sea of big data, and offer [a] great [...] social experience." µ
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