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Just a decade ago, society held extremely negative stigmas about video games. Gamers were considered nerds at best and lazy at worst. However, the preconceptions surrounding gaming have changed, and we can even recognize benefits that come with the activity. This shift in perception has led more people to become part of the community and culture than ever before.
This change is largely connected to the phenomenon of increased globalization — the expansion of industries and organizations into international markets. Every ultra-successful company or industry that you’re aware of has gone global, and that’s simply because they have recognized the importance of it for their sustainability. The New Jersey Institute of Technology sums this up nicely:
If companies support and welcome globalization, it becomes intertwined with their culture. Employees become globally-minded, engineers build software with other countries in mind, and the rest of the team follows. Going global is the key to ensuring your company’s growth and future are indomitable.
Gaming is no different, especially because it grows with technology. Advancements in cloud technology have led to strides in game development. The cloud’s usage in e-commerce, business apps, and file backup has allowed businesses across a wide variety of industries to expand and increase their efficiency. Furthermore, the internet has allowed us to connect with people all around the world, and social media has made that even easier. Gaming expansion using modern technology was inevitable, and the globalization of gaming is the modern expression of that. It’s what’s best for the gaming world and community, and it will hopefully continue.
Why Gaming Expansion Is Necessary
It seems that video games went from a publicly perceived “nerd” activity to a global sensation overnight. Part of the reason for this is globalization. If you take a look at the distribution of video games worldwide on a timeline, they’ve grown in popularity due to the expansion of their reach.
A primary example of this is the localization of games to be released into different markets at the same time. In other words, marketers and developers now prepare for international releases rather than adapting for it later, which was not always the case. ModSquad explained this practice shift for American gaming companies:
Back in the day, many of our favorite video games were created with a specific market in mind, typically one local to that of the game’s developers. If the product was a hit, the publisher often scrambled to replicate that success around the world, creating new versions for different regions as quickly as possible. As time went on, producers planned for localized versions of games, but often left those tasks for the end of the production cycle, causing release delays to foreign markets. Today we’re seeing more day-and-date global releases of many popular titles, so much so that the concept of globalization in the game industry may seem quaint.
This has helped gamers all around the world form connections: The gaming community now reaches across broad demographics and distances. GameSkinny recently compiled information about this phenomenon, stating that 58 percent of Americans aged 30-49 and 38 percent of Americans over 50 play video games. They also revealed that China has the most gamers overall, and that 61 percent of people aged 11-64 in France play video games. Given these statistics, it’s clear that video gaming has risen above the social stigmas of the past.
Current Challenges to Global Expansion
Thinking globally a necessity considering the interconnectedness the world. However, this can be challenging due to the conditions of less wealthy countries around the world. A gaming community does require the resources, after all.
In an infographic put together by Rutgers University, the authors present a list of challenges to globalization, and they very much apply to the gaming industry. They include political stability, access to credit, core infrastructure, and the ability to enforce contracts easily (an essential component as the industry shifts toward a “games as a service” business model).
In short, if a country isn’t economically stable or politically stable, it’s hard for them to advance with the modern world. Rather than devoting resources to implementing technological advancements, they must deal with cultural warfare, which can often make getting access to even basic goods and services a difficult if not impossible task..
This is perhaps the biggest conundrum in worldwide expansion. For instance, there has been talk of esports being included in the Olympic games, but that has partially been shot down due to the amount of countries that would be unable to compete because of wealth disparities and smaller gaming communities. Until we are able to make video games more globally accessible, the industry won’t see the final fruits of its labor.
The Future of Globalized Gaming
All of that said, it does seem that the video games will eventually make it to the Olympic games, though it will at best be a demonstration sport, at least as far as the near future is concerned. However, the fact that Olympic figureheads are even having this discussion is a testament to gaming’s globalization. This is reflected in how the industry itself is growing.
A lot of it comes down to recent technological advancements, like the ones we see in the cloud. The global cloud gaming market is projected to grow 27 percent in the next decade, reaching almost $7 billion market value. This could easily be because game development now appeals to the millennial generation in a way that it previously did not. For instance, it is now important that the messages marketed with a game appeals to the target audience, and this has welcomed newcomers to the world of video games.
The globalization of the gaming industry has not only led to more international competition and a wider range of age/nationality demographics, but it’s been breaking down gender barriers as well. While video games were previously a primarily male-dominated field, women now make up a significant portion of gamers worldwide. While this varies from country to country, women constitute about a third to half of all gamers.
Gaming is only going to continue to get bigger. While it still faces some stigmatization in media, globalization has changed the industry forever. We thankfully live in a world where everyone is invited to be a gamer, and if the gaming industry can brave the obstacles thrown at them while expanding globally, then the future is bright.