Online Gaming: The Rise of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
Online Gaming: The Rise of a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
From tabletops to virtual reality, how we play games is changing with the times.
In just a few short decades, the world of online gaming has exploded in popularity. Estimated to reach $196 billion in revenue by 2022, it is now considered to be one of the fastest growing industries on the planet.
The infographic above explores the humble beginnings of the online gaming market and dives into the technological possibilities driving its future.
The Birth of Online Gaming
Although video game prototypes were created by scientists as early as the 1950s, the very first gaming console was not introduced to consumers until the ‘70s. Subsequently, use of online games began to proliferate in the ‘90s as a result of widespread internet adoption.
- 1990s: Online gaming rapidly gains popularity due to the increasing availability of the internet
- 2003: Digital storefront Steam launches, allowing gamers to buy and review games online
- 2004: World of Warcraft launches, the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) to eclipse more than 10 million active subscriptions
- 2007: Online gaming starts shifting to mobile
- 2009: Minecraft launches and becomes one of the best selling video games in history with 176 million copies sold
- 2009: Apple announces In-app Purchase feature for iPhone apps
- 2015: 1.5 billion gamers around the world
- 2016: Augmented reality game Pokémon Go is launched, generating the most revenue grossed by any mobile game in its first month.
- 2019: Google releases Stadia, a cloud gaming service that allows gamers to play without a console
It is clear that technological innovation plays a huge role in fueling the evolution of online gaming, but there are also several other factors at play.
The Components of Online Gaming
In the world of gaming, there is often confusion between commonly used terms such as “online gaming” and “esports”—when in fact esports is just one segment that sits within the enormous online gaming ecosystem:
- Distributors and Retailers: Platforms that distribute and sell games
- Streaming Services: Services that allow users to livestream games
- Hardware Developers: Companies that build the electronic infrastructure required to play games
- Gaming Arenas: Venues that host gaming events
- Esports: Organized, multiplayer video game competitions, typically between professional players
- Software Developers: Develop applications that allow users to do specific tasks
- Game Publishers: Companies that finance and distribute games
- Game Developers: Studios that develop games
This ecosystem creates dozens of revenue streams for the industry as a whole. For every one of these channels, the shift to mobile gaming presents significant opportunities for growth.
Mobile: The Future of Gaming
Mobile is the largest gaming platform, producing $68.5 billion in revenue in 2019—45% of the total market that also includes PC and tablet gaming.
Although still a relatively new segment of the industry, mobile gaming has developed at an astonishing rate, with 2.4 billion people playing games on mobile in 2019. Part of mobile’s breakneck growth can be attributed to an innovative and seamless user experience which relies on engaging features such as in-app purchases and loyalty rewards.
With the 5G era quickly descending upon us, these pocket-sized game consoles could transform online gaming, and make the industry even more exciting.
Towards a New Age of Entertainment
As the number of players continues to grow, it is clear that the technological possibilities of online gaming are endless. Some are already beginning to take shape:
With industry leaders such as Oculus and Valve announcing cheaper headset options, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality is becoming more accessible for mass markets, and the pace could pick up further in 2020.
Cloud gaming takes advantage of faster, more reliable internet connections by giving gamers the ability to stream games rather than playing on a console.
In the future, games could automatically generate game content that is customized to fit each player’s personality and playstyle, based on their player data.
As these technologies develop, they alter the way users experience games, and provide new opportunities for brands and advertisers to tap into enhanced viewer engagement.
Many industry players will thrive in this new environment, while others will fall by the wayside. Who will emerge victorious, and lead us into the future of entertainment?
Ranked: America’s Largest Semiconductor Companies
This graphic visualizes the market capitalizations of America’s 15 largest semiconductor companies.
Ranking America’s Largest Semiconductor Companies
As our world moves further into an era of widespread digitization, few industries can be considered as important as semiconductors.
These components are found in almost everything we use on a daily basis, and the ability to produce them domestically has become a topic of national security. For example, in 2022 the Biden administration announced the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to strengthen America’s position in everything from clean energy to artificial intelligence.
With this in mind, we’ve ranked the top 15 U.S. semiconductor companies by their market capitalizations.
Data and Highlights
The data we used to create this infographic is listed in the table below. Year-to-date (YTD) returns were included for additional context. Both metrics are as of May 30, 2023.
|Rank||Company||Ticker||Market Cap (USD billions)||YTD Return|
|13||Marvell Technology Group||MRVL||$54||76.2%|
At the top is Nvidia, which became America’s newest $1 trillion company on Tuesday, May 30th. Shares pulled back slightly over the day and Nvidia closed at $992 billion. Over the past decade, Nvidia has transformed from a gaming-focused graphics card producer to a global leader in AI and data center chips.
In third and sixth place are two of America’s most well known chipmakers, AMD and Intel. These longtime rivals are moving in opposite trajectories, with AMD shares climbing 770% over the past five years, and Intel shares falling 47%. One reason for this is the data center segment, in which AMD appears to be stealing market share from Intel.
Further down the list we see Applied Materials in seventh, and Lam Research in ninth. Both firms specialize in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and thus play an important role in the industry’s supply chain.
Trade War Impacts
As tensions between the U.S. and China escalate, chipmakers are becoming increasingly entangled in geopolitical conflict.
In October 2022, the Biden administration introduced new export controls aimed at blocking China’s access to semiconductors produced with U.S. equipment. This impacted several companies in our top 15 list, including Lam Research and Applied Materials.
Shortly after the export controls were announced, Lam Research said it expected to lose upwards of $2.5 billion in annual revenues.
We lost some very profitable customers in the China region, and that’s going to persist, obviously.
– Doug Bettinger, CFO, Lam Research
In response, China announced in May 2023 that it would no longer allow America’s largest memory chipmaker, Micron, to sell its products to “critical national infrastructure operators”.
This is not the first time Micron has been involved in a controversy with China. In 2018, the firm alleged that Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a Chinese state-owned company, had solicited a Micron employee to steal specifications for memory chips. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed export restrictions on Fujian Jinhua as a result.
Chipmakers on both sides of the Pacific will be closely watching as competition between these two countries heats up.
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