The global gaming market has always been hot and grew even more in the last year, as in-person social activities took a back seat and people looked for new, and often social, ways to spend their free time – reaching a value over $162 billion in 2020. And the market is only forecasted to grow, reaching a value of almost $300 billion by 2026. From Animal Crossing to Fortnite concerts to esports, gaming is everywhere.
If the last several years saw the gamification of everything, with badges and awards, the next few years may bring the “game”-ificiation of everything, as companies look for ways to bring literal games to their platform. Recently, two large publicly traded streaming media companies, Netflix and Peloton, announced their plans to enter the gaming market. Both companies are subscriber-focused, and likely facing pressure to find innovative ways to retain the users they acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping them engaged on their platforms long-term.
Details about both offerings so far are limited. Netflix’s offering is expected to launch in 2022 and is being headed up by former executives from VR company Oculus and gaming giant Electronic Arts. Some analysts expect there will be games created around some of Netflix’s blockbuster original series, like Stranger Things. But there are questions about how interactive the games can be with your current hardware – will they require you to use the buttons on your remote control, can they leverage voice control, or will you have to purchase a Netflix controller? Will they be full-length and immersive, or mini-games used solely to promote a new season of a series?
For Peloton, the hardware question is a little easier to answer, as many of the users of their streaming exercise service already own the connected exercise bike that measures your cadence (speed) and resistance. They’ve released a screenshot of a simple, rolling wheel game called Lanebreak, which has TRON-like visual vibes. Unlike the instructor-led classes, you can choose your own soundtrack, but the game will similarly challenge you with cadence and resistance callouts to control the intensity of your workout. While it looks rudimentary, the social nature of Peloton’s platform and the popularity of “racing” games in general, like Mario Kart, suggests a path for expanding these offerings. (As someone who was a big fan of the GTA series I’m highly amused to think of how they might translate to Peloton.) Peloton’s platform has already leveraged extensive gamification with badges and streaks, so they likely have some data on how well these “game” aspects motivate their user base. The game will be beta tested by Peloton users later this year – yes, if anyone from Peloton is reading this please count me in – and released to their general audience after that.
Overall, we see a couple of trends here – streaming platforms attempting to make their offerings more sticky, in the presence of even more competition from each other as well as all those social activities that were off-limits for much of 2020 and even 2021 – and the popularity of gaming making it an appealing avenue for established brands to run experiments. Does your brand have the potential to drive more engagement with games? Contact us to chat about your strategic roadmap, including gaming and esports.