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The Year so Far in Gaming

On the heels of the industry-focused Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last month, the first big consumer-friendly show of the year, PAX East, recently took place in Boston. Thousands came together to celebrate the latest and greatest in video and tabletop gaming, and our team’s takeaways offer insight to what will make news this year.

To VR or VRn't?
Virtual Reality (VR) was out in full force on the show floor at PAX East. Oculus dominated with two large booths featuring glass demo “boxes” and even teamed up with Facebook Gaming for some cross-platform demos. Sony also had its VR offering, PSVR, on display and there were several panels dedicated to the subject, but the big question remains on everyone’s mind – who’s buying it? Media and analysts aren’t quite sold on VR’s future. According to a recent MediaPost article, U.S. consumers are less familiar with VR now than they were in 2017 or 2016, and while 56% have heard about VR, they don’t understand the technology.

eSports Everywhere
Multiplayer video game competitions – more commonly known as eSports – are a huge deal, in fact a $1.1 billion deal and growing.

From Nintendo to EA Sports, it was hard to miss the eSports fanfare at PAX. 360PR+ client Wizards of the Coast went all in with their largest eSports event to date, awarding $1 million in prize money to Magic: The Gathering players. With so many industry players having a hand in the eSports game, we expect the stakes will only get higher.

Sayonara to Cyberbullying
Microsoft-owned streaming platform Mixer teamed up with anti-cyberbullying nonprofit The Cybersmile Foundation for a campaign dubbed the “UnAwareness Movement,” aimed to combat the darker side of gaming and internet culture by minimizing user trolling and negativity. With online streaming riding an all-time high for gamers, it’s reassuring to see platforms putting measures in place to foster positivity and create welcoming communities for gaming enthusiasts around the world.

PC Gaming is Back and Bigger Than Ever
Consumers’ investment in high-end PC hardware is predicted to be one of the major drivers of growth in the industry over the next few years. Analyst firm DFC Intelligence forecasts that the global market for games on personal computers will grow from $32 billion last year to $37 billion by 2022. In fact, they report that spending on PC games is greater than spending on all the console games systems combined. Need proof? At PAX East, 360PR+ client Larian Studios announced a new game in their award-winning Divinity: Original Sin 2 series and they had fans lining up for three hours to play!

With exciting cloud-based gaming developments like Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud on the horizon, PC-based games will continue to take center stage for years to come.

PAX East had great energy and attracted a number of influential media and analysts too. It was a treat to attend and check out the new with so many old friends.

What do you think will be the next big thing in gaming? Drop Stacey Clement a note.