Gaming in 2016 – Predicting 2017?

According to SuperData Research  people spent US$91,000,000,000 on games. Billion… This is an all-time record. But, they are hyping things a bit. In 2015 Statistica shows $91.5 billion spent and $99.6 billion in 2016. I suppose it depends on where one gets their numbers and categorizes them. Game revenue is notoriously flaky as companies like to hype their increasing sales and keep decreases secret.

Still that is about a 10% increase year-to-year. Eight billion isn’t chump change, unless your spending $10 trillion on credit, like some governments…

Data From Statistica

They break the revenue down into subcategories. Handheld games are dying. Smartphone games are the hot item. They show the largest growth from 2015 to 2016 and that is expected to continue, which seems reasonable as smartphones are selling well.

In 2005 smartphones sales were just $3.8 billion. Eleven years later in 2016 sales of smart phones was $55 billion, a 1,447% increase. So, as more people get smartphones there are more possible users of smartphone games. According to Statistica a little less than half of the 2016 game revenue was from smartphone gaming.

The one place where things aren’t preforming as many anticipated is VR. Quoting Statistica,

“The first year for virtual reality was sobering, especially for manufacturers of dedicated hardware. A high price point, the absence of a strong content line-up, and difficulties with properly delivering through retail cooled consumers’ expectations of the Oculus. We expect firms with more experience in hardware manufacturing like Sony and HTC to take the lead in 2017.”

PC Gaming is the slow ‘grower’ but, it is growing. It grew a billion dollars from 2015 to 2016. Statistica is projecting it will grow from $26.7 billion for 2016 to $34.3 billion in 2017. I can’t see where trends in gaming predict that much PC game growth. I suspect those interested in VR are too few to shake the market that hard. But, I suppose they could. VR is going to need a desktop for most of 2017, if not beyond. But, $8 billion more?

Or may be politics is influencing the market predictions. It has certainly influenced the stock market and manufacturing companies. Are the gaming predictions being influenced by the same euphoria? It’s hard to say. It is all speculation.

Second Life

So, what does this mean for Second Life™? With the ever increasing phones sales and massive growth in that market area, I would think the Lab would be looking to buy the Android Lumiya Viewer and take over development. Or develop a competing viewer of their own.

Lumiya Android Viewer

Lumiya sells on Google Play for US$2.99. And provides Daydream (VR) support for Android phones. I am influenced by Daydream when considering which new phone I’ll update to in 2017 in light of Daydream. Can I wait (until April) for a Samsung Galaxy S8 that won’t burn my house down?

Because PC ‘game’ sales are increasing and predicted to increase in 2017 while PC hardware sales slowly decline it is hard to say what people are doing. (The decline in PC sales seems to be flattening, but way too soon to say.) It is also hard to say what computer manufacturers are doing. Phones and tablets are the domain of 3 or 4 companies. Where does that leave AMD, Intel, Dell or HP?

In the SL Forum, a person was asking about their new computer with a Q33 chipset having problems running SL. That Q33 is 2007 tech. I hope it was a used-new-to-them computer.

Looking at Dell, Fry’s, and Best Buy I find Core2 Duo and Quads are sold as new computers. They have Windows 10. But, these are CPU’s from 2005 to 2008. Intel is now releasing the 7th generation iCore 3, 5, & 7’s. Everything is moving toward 2k VR and 4k 2D display with 8k not far behind. The CPU’s from Intel are adding more streaming graphics support and support chips sets are providing wider data buses and more data channels. All about moving more data. Nvidia is adding dual image processing for better VR.

The Lab has figured out how to get data to our devices fast enough. But, we still have to move it around inside the computer and render it. That is where we bottleneck. As these new chips and data buses improve the speed of computers we move closer to being able to support SL with a VR mode on the desktop.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

On the smartphone side CPU’s are developing along the same lines, more data streaming. It is graphics rendering where the phones fall down and lack the power to support virtual world rendering like Second Life. That is likely to change. Nvidia was rumored, about September, to be in talks with Samsung. There is some small chance the S8 could have Nvidia on board. The better chance is for the year after, S9 if there is to be such a thing.

Don’t expect an Nvidia chip in your future phone. The tech will be licensed to Samsung and they ‘likely’ will build it into their phones.

Android is supporting Daydream VR now. Not all the hardware that Android runs on will support Daydream. But, some does now. How well is questionable. And SL certainly is likely to be a poor performer in Daydream because of the novice created content. But, it is looking like we will have VR for SL on Android phones before we do on desktops… new FOMO.

Another interesting development that may eventually affect VR use is Samsung’s buying a Voice Artificial Intelligence company to provide a major step up over Apple’s Siri and Google Voice, both of which I find way frustrating to the point of avoiding them.

Voice may drastically change the UI on phones and that change may make it into VR games. Think: ‘SL: Open inventory. Find my new red dress.’ I could go for that.

Summary

For now, my take on gaming is 2017 will be a year where we are sorting out what we want to do with our gaming.

Obviously, VR is lagging behind the hype and will likely continue to. So, as SL users there appears to be nothing to shake things up. More of us will move slowly toward VR and likely play with Sansar. But, people like Jo Yardley will have to build VR places like 1920’s Berlin in Sansar before Sansar is of much interest to the SL population.

The Lab might build a world in Sansar as a demo of their product. We’ll have to wait and see. But, that could provide a basis for the SL population to consider immigration. But, we can look at OpenSim to get an idea of what might attract people. The big magnet is population.

What will the Lab do to populate Sansar? Will they count on developers to make lots and lots of games and apps all with small populations of a few hundred thousand users, like is happening with phone apps or like Facebook games? Facebook is working to break into phone gaming. We know the Lab is planning to have Sansar on phones, eventually.

Building mesh things, avatars, and making new Bento animations will be the growth industry in Second Life 2017. Merchants will likely consider also selling in Sansar. I expect that Sansar-factor to add pressure to provide “optimized’ content for SL. Land Impact is pressuring developers to optimize stuff. Now ACI is pressuring SL fashion houses to optimize. We’ll have to see what pressure  the Lab can add for creators or if Google’s ‘page load time’* will be enough pressure.

There are so many unknowns now. Many of our questions will be answered in 2017. Sansar will open, the economy will heat up providing jobs, artificial intelligence will start replacing larger numbers of workers, Trump will start to be judged on what he does rather than the medias fears opening the possibility of boosting the economy or escalating the war on terror… and how these things will affect gamers is speculation based on speculation.

Do you know what the Ignorance Project is?

 

*A major factor in getting good position in search results is a matter of how quickly a page loads. Will this transfer to VR pages and apps? I think so. But. We’ll have to see how Google handles it.

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