The video game industry is booming: the global market generated total revenues of more than $180 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach over $222 billion in revenues by 2024. With over 3.2 billion gamers around the globe, games are as ubiquitous as ever and continue to excite more people to play. A few trends are driving these developments, as games get increasingly affordable and easily accessible.
The number of games you can play for free has never been higher than today. The free-to-play (F2P) business model gained traction over the last decade and has now engulfed the entire games market. F2P games can be played completely for free, while users can pay for certain content such as additional levels, items, or cosmetics through in-game purchases. The model can now be found in all game genres and on all platforms, as both new and old games are jumping on the bandwagon. It makes all types of games much more accessible to players and allows users to easily try different games without having to pay.
It is especially popular in casual games that are geared toward casual and novice gamers looking for short and simple game rounds. Users can play games such as Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans without spending a dime, while players can invest as much money as they like to customize and enhance their experience through microtransactions. Similar developments can even be seen in the realm of traditional casino games. In a space where it is common to place wagers on games, a $1 deposit casino offers players from around the world a way to play for less. Users can opt for a minimum deposit of $1 and receive bonuses such as free spins to play the traditional games online without having to pay more. While players can still bet higher wagers if wanted, offers such as these open the games to more players who want to play with a smaller budget. Now, the trend has spread across the entire gaming industry. Especially for multiplayer titles such as battle royale games, F2P has seemingly become the norm as it encourages more players to join in, no matter their budget.
Going to your local games store and paying the full retail price for a game used to be the only way to get the newest releases. This, however, has changed drastically. Making whole game libraries available to players at a monthly subscription fee is increasingly becoming the norm. Rather than paying the full price for a title, players can access the entire game library and play all available games without purchasing them individually. The main competitors in this field are Sony’s PlayStation Plus service and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription. Each gives players tiered membership plans, including a selection of games they can play for a monthly fee. Xbox’s top tier, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, for instance, includes hundreds of games including Xbox Game Studios titles on the day of their release. Players can try the service for a $1 trial period before paying the full monthly fee of $14.99. Considering that new game releases can cost roughly $70, the subscription model makes a wide variety of games much more accessible and affordable. With the new Game Pass Friends & Family shared plan announced, where you can share a subscription with others, Xbox games are getting even more affordable.
The continuous mobile gaming trend has been another major factor in making games as affordable and accessible as ever. The mobile app stores boast a large selection of game apps that users can download without paying a dime with the click of a button and install within seconds. Most importantly, they can download these games onto a device almost everybody already owns. According to GSMA Intelligence, there are 5.34 billion unique mobile phone users in the world, all of whom automatically also have a gaming device in the palms of their hands. Instead of having to purchase expensive gaming hardware such as a gaming PC or console, users can simply use a device they already own to play games.
It is easier and cheaper than ever to play video games, as industry trends gear toward increased accessibility and affordability. With free-to-play games flourishing, subscription services granting access to hundreds of games at a small fee, and mobile gaming available on devices most of us already have, gaming continues to get more affordable.