The stereotype still exists that online games are mainly for teenage boys and young men clinging to their adolescence, but it’s becoming less and less relevant by the day. For instance, the latest Essential Facts report by the Entertainment Software Association revealed that 37 percent of the most frequent game purchasers are now female. One fascinating fact to emerge from the report is that while most male gamers are predictably under 18, most female gamers are over 50.

While the gaming industry continues to boom, there is still vast room for growth, and many companies are recognizing the income potential that exists. This ranges from advertising opportunities in the burgeoning eSports market through to casino comps for online gamblers.

How fast is the gaming industry growing?

Very fast. In fact, it is booming. For instance, in the US, revenue for the video game industry is growing at a compound rate of 3.6 percent and is expected to swell from the $71.3 billion earned in 2015 to more than $90 billion in 2020. Internationally, the rate of growth is even faster. In India, the online gaming industry currently brings in $360 million, but the market is blossoming at an annual rate of 20 percent and is predicted to reach $1 billion before 2021. No matter where you look on the planet, the industry is performing very strongly, such as the $173 million revenue that is projected in Nigeria this year.

Why is the growth so strong?

There are many different factors, beginning with the sheer speed by which the industry is constantly developing. Each trend has barely started to go stale before a new wave of technology appears. Just one example among many is the growth of virtual reality, which includes goggles that bring players fully inside the game. Ownership of virtual reality hardware remains relatively low, but 90 percent of those who have bought it say that they are happy with the purchase, and one-third of the most common gamers state that they will likely buy it within the next year.

The other major factor is the continuing spread of gaming hardware and the internet across the planet, which is getting cheaper all the time and is still a long way from any kind of saturation point. Coming back to India, there are currently 120 million online gamers, and this is expected to more than double to 310 million by 2021.

What opportunities exist?

There are many great opportunities for businesses in the online gaming world, such as advertising in the growing industry of professional eSports. Watching online gamers play used to be a very niche pastime, but now more than 6 billion hours of spectator time are dedicated to it each year, and that is growing all the time. ESports will actually be a medal event at the 2022 Asia Games, and there is even talk of it becoming an Olympic event.

Another example of the opportunities being seized in the online gaming world are the casino comps that are offered by online gambling sites. These are essentially loyalty programs, similar to those offered by restaurants and grocery stores, which give a range of rewards to their repeat customers. Not only do these allow businesses to capitalize on the ever-growing market of online gamers, but they also help the popularity of online gaming continue to swell.

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