The IPO market might be entering a deep freeze and investment in gaming companies might be drying up faster than exposed skin on a cold and windy mountaintop, but the sun is going to shine on the gaming industry again some day.
Some day soon, according to Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, who opened the GamesBeat conference earlier this month with the prediction that the market for selling both mobile and console games is poised to double.
This is not because Pachter has changed his mind about the imminent demise of consoles. He is infamous for incorrectly predicting the end of console gaming, and he still believes consoles will eventually become obsolete. But Pachter believes the same forces that are killing the consoles will eventually make console games ubiquitous.
By 2018, Pachter believes that console stalwarts like FIFA and Call of Duty will migrate to mobile devices. “We won’t be there with the iPhone 6s, but we will be there with the iPhone 9,” he said. “When that happens, you will see the market for paid games explode.”
“I think the console side doubles or triples as soon as the publishers go off console,” he added.
Pachter is not alone. Kristian Segerstrale, executive director, Super Evil Megacorp and former co-founder and CEO of Playfish, pointed out that the current audience for watching video games is about 100 million people. That is built on a foundation of around 700 million gaming PCs. So what happens when it becomes possible to play console-like games on mobile devices, which currently number about 1.5 billion?
“Imagine that by the end of next year there are maybe three million devices that can play games like Vainglory and other emerging touch screen e-sports,” Segerstrale said. “That creates opportunities that are perhaps three to five times as large as what we see on PCs today.”
Ian Sharpe, CEO of Azubu.tv, a streaming platform and one of Twitch’s kissing cousins noted that one in four streams on Azubu are viewed from a mobile device. He pointed out that huge opportunities exist in markets like India where there are 1.2 billion people, massive mobile penetration and an excellent 4g network.
“Honestly, I think the thing that is holding back e-sports is the game companies themselves,” said Denis Fong, CEO of Raptr, a technology company behind the Plays.tv streaming platform. “It’s not about the gaming; it’s about the players. If you look at any professional sport today it is actually all about the players.”
“When you think about the NFL, you are not loyal to the NFL but you are loyal to the 49ers and you are loyal to Tom Brady,” he said. Once game companies understand that it is not about promoting their games, but that it is about promoting the community and the players they will expand the market for everyone.