The global market for Console and Handheld Gaming Software is forecast to reach US$52.2 billion by 2024, driven by the growing interest of casual gamers in console gaming as a result of OEM and developer focus on developing console hardware, software and game titles designed to appeal to the causal gamer.
Although hardcore gamers remain the primary and most important customer cluster for console games, the unprecedented rise of the casual gamer is encouraging market players to take notice of the vast untapped opportunity offered. Console game device manufacturers and game title developers alike are eyeing the casual gamer with more than a passing interest. Over the last decade, casual games with their flexible nature of playability on-the-go and availability across diverse viable platforms such as mobile phones, PCs, consoles, tablets, and smartwatches have captured the attention of millions of players worldwide. Casual games are defined as games designed for a mass audience, which includes gamers whose time and/or interest are limited. Few of the reasons responsible for the growing popularity of casual games include low cost as these games are free-to-play; taps into the impulse gaming needs of people who just have a few minutes to devote; hassle free game experience; ability to easily set up, install and learn the game; requires light strategic thought; easy and simple gameplay design that allows for easy completion of the game; designed for short bursts of play; designed for continuous gaming allowing gamers to pick up where they leave; feature pleasant themes that appeal to a wider demographic base; and easy accessibility to the game, among others.
To tap into the opportunity and to counter the explosion of casual gaming on mobile/smartphones, manufacturers and their franchise game developers are focusing on developing console hardware, software and game titles designed to appeal to the causal gamer. A development in this regard is the launch of new generation of miniaturized video game consoles in compact form factors and at low costs. Given that cost is a major bottleneck for adoption of game consoles among casual gamers, this development is a major step forward in helping expand the audience base for console games. Sony PlayStation 4 Slim and Microsoft Xbox One S come priced at an affordable US$200 to US$300 and come bundled with game libraries and catalog suited for the casual gamer. Also driving adoption of consoles by casual gamers is the non-gaming feature innovation in consoles that include multi-functional features and capabilities that move beyond gaming.
Other major factors driving growth in the market include efforts of console vendors to enable cross-console and cross-platform multiplayer game playability; development and integration of virtual reality technology; rising interest in use of game consoles for rehabilitation; and continuous console hardware innovation.
The United States represents the largest market worldwide. Asia-Pacific ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 7% over the analysis period led by factors such as growing levels of digital literacy among the large population base; digitalizing lifestyles of the growing base of affluent middle class population and the resulting preference for digital forms of entertainment; developing technology ecosystem and presence of gaming powerhouses like China and South Korea.
Major players in the market include Activision Blizzard, Inc., Activision Publishing, Inc., Arkane Studios SASU, Atlus Co., Ltd., Bethesda Game Studios, Capcom Co., Ltd., CD Projekt S.A., ConcernedApe, Crystal Dynamics, Inc., Electronic Arts, Inc., Giant Sparrow, Guerrilla B.V., HAL Laboratory, Inc., Housemarque Oy, id Software LLC, Infinite Fall, Kojima Productions Co., Ltd., Koei Tecmo Holdings Co., Ltd., Mercury Steam Entertainment S.L., Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Studios, NetherRealm Studios, Next Level Games Inc., Nintendo Co. Ltd., Playground Games, Respawn Entertainment, LLC, Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC, Square Enix Holdings Co. Ltd., and Ubi Soft Entertainment S.A, among others.