We’re going to see new combinations of video games and old-fashioned board games and gambling, panelists said in “The Accelerated Evolution of Gaming Think Tank.”
Video games are a $50 billion-a-year industry, said entrepreneur Brock Pierce, a pioneer in marketing virtual goods in online games. Meanwhile, the traditional gaming industry–gambling–brings in $700 billion per year. “In a casino today, you see slot machines that look a lot like video games,” Pierce said. And that overlap will continue as cash-strapped federal and state governments liberalize U.S. gaming laws in search of tax revenues.
Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, agreed: “‘Gaming gaming’ is an ascendant market of massive proportions. Once you give people the ability to play a slot machine a few times before they go to bed, on their credit card, they will do it.”
When moderator Tom Krazit, paidContent’s mobile editor, asked panelists about other big trends, all of them mentioned user-generated content in gaming. One interesting development, said Peter Salinas, a gaming analyst at Nerd Kingdom, is the ability to let average gamers act as game developers. “The reason social apps blow up is that they’re relatively easy for game developers to make,” he said. (According to a stat cited by Pierece, 60 to 70 percent of applications downloaded to smartphones today are games.) Nerd Kingdom is looking for ways to develop technology so that thousands of gamers can develop games with each other.
That approach can be very successful in part because gaming has become so social. “The compelling factor is the other player,” said Dmitri Williams, founder and president of Ninja Metrics and an associate professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. “You can have a lousy game and people will stay because their friends are there. It’s key to bring social network analysis into computer science.” Ninja Metrics uses algorithms to determine which people are influential and how much they will spend. It’s “thinking about customers and users as key nodes to be looking at [rather than the game's content as the key metric]. They’re the seeds.”