Each year, major publications that focus on the intersection of technology and entertainment forecast the future of digital gaming. Since the first projects like Pong came out and evolved into arcade gaming in the 1970s and 80s, available technology has revolutionized how, where, and when people game. This has been particularly relevant for the retail sector, which Statista estimates is worth around $4.85 billion in the US alone.

This year, Insider Intelligence released a study predicting the meteoric growth of video games, which continues to piggyback off the growth of eSports. The company predicts that there will be 179.6 million digital gamers in the US by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Forbes has zeroed in on trends like Cloud Gaming and the Metaverse.

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The company spoke with several industry professionals to outline the five most important tech trends that will drive future gaming trends. Alongside blockchain, AI and AR are expected to see growth and new applications in the coming year. But which trends will prove popular with average gamers and which will change the future of digital entertainment retail? And how will this change the current landscape of digital entertainment?

Casino Game Diversifying

If there’s one unsung hero in the realm of digital entertainment, it’s casino gaming. In fact, online casinos were some of the very first gaming-based websites that emerged in the mid-1990s. At the time, the emphasis was on virtual poker.

Today, poker remains one of the most popular table games both at brick-and-mortar casinos and online. However, slots have also stepped into the limelight. Studios like NetEnt and Microgaming don’t just create unique slots, but emphasize stunning graphics, storytelling elements that add depth, and ways to gauge potential winnings at a glance.

For example, RTP slots include a percentage, which shows an expected amount a game pays back over time. These stats make it easy for gamers to choose a title that’s right for them in a virtual retail space, and also add transparency to the industry.

New retail trends expected in 2023:

  • Immersive VR and AR casino games, such as PokerStars VR
  • Diversification of existing games like slots 

Cloud Gaming Offering New Solutions

Since the release of Pong, mentioned above, gamers have resigned themselves to the need for hardware. Console gamers will eventually need to buy the next Xbox or PlayStation, while PC gamers will need to upgrade peripherals every few years—or at least, they used to.

Cloud gaming is a new way to connect gamers with their favorite titles. Rather than download the game or buy a physical CD, gamers can now stream a gaming title just like they would a show on Netflix. They don’t own it, but can instead rent or lease a certain title—or have access to it through a gaming subscription.

Already, game providers like Sony, Microsoft, Tencent, and Amazon have all jumped onto this model. It’s only expected to grow and evolve in the coming years, and will benefit greatly from an expanded rollout of 5G networks.

New retail trends expected in 2023:

  • Gaming subscriptions from non-corporate groups, such as GameClub
  • Creative new wireless gaming peripherals, such as Bluetooth-capable chairs

VR Finally Taking Off

For over a decade, VR has sat squarely at the center of all digital entertainment conversations. Still, VR has faced challenges related to overpriced hardware, touch-and-go mechanics, and a gap in digital literacy. But it seems that it has finally found its place.

First, there’s the falling price of headwear. Now that multiple groups have created functional headsets, from Oculus to Sony, more average consumers have access to the technology. Second, top titles that hardcore gamers want access to are available for VR, including DOOM, Minecraft, and even Grand Theft Auto.

Lastly, VR isn’t just geared toward console gamers who already have a PlayStation or Xbox. Instead, many devices can now be connected to a PC, which means an entirely new subset of gamers is showing interest in VR. Coupled with the rise of Cloud gaming, VR finally looks to have hit its stride.

New retail trends expected in 2023:

  • Hobbyist VR headsets from non-corporate groups, such as the Mi VR Play 2
  • Adaptation of popular games for multi-platform play, including console, PC, mobile, and VR/AR

Game Streaming Viewership

One new niche emerging in the digital gaming industry is game streaming viewers. These are viewers who watch eSports tournaments and other types of live streamed games, such as a channel on Twitch. Going forward, the growth of these types of viewers will likely instigate the creation of new viewing technologies.

As eSports gain more media coverage, AR could begin to define a new type of fan viewing experience. Insider Intelligence predicts there are now around 29.6 million monthly eSports viewers in the US alone.

New retail trends expected in 2023:

  • Expansion of eSports merchandising, including gaming peripherals
  • Gamification spreading into non-eSports retail, such as Chanel’s Coco Game Center
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