Oct 3, 2018 Miika Huttunen
The rise of smartphones, low-barrier distribution channels, and most recently cross-platform gaming have contributed to the rise of the new type of gaming. Long gone are the weary stereotypes of nerdy subcultures of the past: today, one-third of the world’s population can be declared as “gamers”. In 1998, Snake was released for Nokia mobile phones – 20-years later, Niantic’s Pokémon Go, a game widely played by everyone ranging from kids to elders, reached one billion downloads. Competitive gaming is also becoming the mainstream: the League of Legends 2017 World Championship reached 60 million unique viewers and the annual Dota2 event, The International 8, had a $25.5M in the prize pool.
In 2018, for the first time ever, the global industry is going to derive half of its revenues from mobile platforms. While Europe has been at the forefront of mobile game development with companies like Supercell, King and Rovio, Chinese companies have shown jaw-dropping numbers recently. The Chinese juggernaut, Tencent, stated hosting over 100 million daily active users in their top-grossing game Honor of Kings during Chinese New Year in 2018. And yes, it’s grossing +$180M monthly revenues.
The gaming industry is also amazingly profitable. If we include King (founded 2003), in the past 15 years 24 companies have reached over $1B valuation. Gaming companies also achieve liquidity events faster than non-games companies. In fact, 88% of the $1B+ games companies founded since 2003 achieved liquidity event (liquidity or acquisition) compared to non-gaming tech companies 39%.
What Does the Future Hold For Gaming?
The industry has a powerful growth driver behind its back: time. As more and more game and tech-savvy generations mature, and gaming becomes ubiquitous. Already now, people like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is living the stream and entertaining his astronomical 18M+ amount of subscribers.
And it’s no doubt that new gaming ready devices, faster connections and cloud-based technologies for streaming and gaming will spur growth and innovation even further.
Finally, success breeds further success as Atomico put it well: “we’re already seeing a new wave of companies emerge from the European greats, including Space Ape(EA, Playfish), Oh BiBi (Gameloft), and Bossa (Bullfrog, Jagex, Ubisoft and Playfish), in the same way that Supercell itself emerged from Digital Chocolate/Sumea”. It’s not just the talent but also successful exits channeling capital back into the gaming ecosystem.
There’s a lot happening in gaming right now. Here are some interesting trends to keep an eye on:
Slush 2018 Brings Gaming Back to the Core
When Slush was still held in Kaapelitehdas, the gaming scene was highly visible in the program. It’s no surprise, as Slush founders had a deep connection to the successful gaming founders as companies like Rovio and Supercell were about to jump to lightspeed. In 2014, we held a 1000 people event with International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and Chinese giant Tencent. In 2015 and 2016, we held the highly successful Slush PLAY event in Iceland as the meeting point for Nordic gaming and VR companies.
More recently, we’ve been a little silent on gaming. It’s not that we haven’t had gaming in our program (last year entrepreneurs like Holly Liu and Nikolaj Nyholm shared their stories), we just haven’t been loud enough and curated additional program besides the main stage talks. Therefore, together with the European gaming scene, we aim to link various gaming events to the Slush gaming track.
The track begins Oct 9 at Slush Berlin Small Talks, which is 100% about gaming. My colleague, Rasmus, shared their story here. Fast-forward to December, we have joined forces once again with IGDA Finland for a Slush pre-party for gaming enthusiasts on Dec 3. At the Slush main event, we’ll have highly interesting topics to cover on both days with companies like Roblox, Tencent, Oh BiBi and Super Evil Megacorp joining. The program will be launched early November. In addition, this year we’re doing 10 different official side events with topics ranging from learning to property tech and… to gaming. Press Play is a four-hour event on Slush Day 2, co-produced with Supercell, Hatch and Play Ventures.
And if it wasn’t enough, our friends Supercell and Matchmade will host a pre-party before the legendary Slush afterparty. We encourage everybody to participate by hosting their own gatherings and side events during the Slush week. We’ve already got several events confirmed by the leading gaming companies in Finland and European venture capital funds but we’re always looking for more! You can include your event in the Slush side event listing here.
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