As current circumstances encourage us to stay at home, there are only a limited number of social activities that we can do safely. Fortunately, the gaming industry is here to fill the gap with an increasingly popular activity called “social gaming.”
What is social gaming?
Social gaming is essentially playing games while interacting with other online players — whether it’s through area maps, calls, or even live chats. Social games have been around for a while. In fact, they’ve existed since the early 2000s, with MMORPGs like Guild Wars and Everquest piloting the genre. Another example of social gaming is online bingo. While much of its games are played alone, a lot of providers offer chat rooms that players can interact in.
Today, the Statista Research Department reports that social gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry, with the US being its largest market in North America.
But aside from the pandemic, what exactly is contributing to its rise?
More time spent on mobile
Statista’s report also highlights how a big part of social gaming’s revenues “is currently, and will continue to be, attributed to [apps].”
For example, remember how we mentioned online bingo? A number of enthusiasts may still play on desktop, but mobile has been an increasingly growing platform for its players. The statistics on Foxy Bingo found that only 18% of the market played bingo on mobile in 2018. But in 2019, this number rose to 25%. In fact, more people are on their mobile devices today, with the average user spending around three hours on their smartphones every day. As such, it’s no surprise to see more social gaming apps appear on mobile, like Zynga Poker and QuizUp.
Online party games
When people think of “party games,” traditional games like Clue, Monopoly, and Charades would be some of the first that come to mind. However, while people still enjoy these games, it’s very difficult to gather everybody in one location to play them. For instance, schedules might not overlap, or the travel distance might be too far. The gaming industry caught wind of the problem and produced remote party games as an alternative. Titles like Jackbox Party Pack and Drawful are good examples of these. One person can host the game, and everybody else can play through a Zoom call.
Plus, a lot of the mentioned traditional games are now available online. Playrento, for instance, is a well-known social gaming platform for Monopoly.
Better network infrastructure
As more users immerse themselves in social gaming and other online activities, the more load our internet service providers (ISPs) need to carry. Early into the pandemic, many states like California even experienced internet outages since the infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the demand.
In fact, have you heard of the World Series of Poker? There was a huge incident last year when one of the players, Daniel Negreanu, disconnected during a major tournament. Needless to say, it cost him the competition.
Last Night’s Negreanu Meltdown Abridged. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/EwB76My5Ub
— 🃏 David Lappin 🃏 (@dklappin) July 11, 2020
Fortunately, ISPs have been rapidly improving their infrastructures since then. Much of social gaming relies on gathering people into one server, so these increasingly consistent connections can only benefit players and the wider gaming industry.
Social games are helping people have fun together, even though they can’t meet physically. But even when the pandemic ends, the platform’s convenience and the improving network speeds are going to help social games flourish even more.