Although 2021 brought significant amounts of economic uncertainty across many industries and sectors, this has most certainly not been the case for the gaming industry. In fact, if recent news reports are anything to go by, business in the gaming world is booming!

In one sense, this is perhaps not entirely unexpected. After all, with the pandemic still wreaking havoc on our in-person social lives, many of us have found ourselves spending a considerable amount of time socializing at home. This is reflected in recent industry reporting on the gaming industry during the pandemic, which noted a 39% increase in video gaming time in the period accounted for. Plus, with online shopping at The Old School Game Vault, GameStop, Amazon, and so much more, the ease at which games can be supplied and delivered right to our door makes gaming an easy go-to for those confined to their homes.

However, in addition to the general increase in demand over the last year or so, with active player counts at an all-time high, other conditions have led to such significant growth in the international gaming sector. Some of these are connected to technological advances in the gaming industry, such as the launches of new, powerful devices and online gaming platforms. Even the websites like Dramacool are making their place and people are choosing it over Netflix. Others reflect shifts in the industry, with new generations of video game designers and heads of businesses beginning to take charge and lead the industry.

While 2020 and 2021 have been golden years for the gaming industry, what does this spell for 2022? Will the gaming sector continue to reach new heights, or are there potential disruptions to this growth that lie waiting beyond 31st December 2021?

1. Supply issues

Although supply chain issues are hampering the global economy across many industries and sectors, the video game industry seems particularly hard hit given the reliance on a highly complicated supply chain network to get devices into gamers’ hands.

By far the weakest link in this supply chain is chips. The global chip shortage hit the gaming industry hard in 2021, with the product launches by Sony and Xbox taking a hit as a result. This led to a widespread shortage of consoles on release days, which continued into the months afterwards.

Unfortunately, however, this shortage looks set to continue into 2022, which will inevitably impact the gaming business. As a result of these gloomy predictions, we are already seeing hardware companies putting off release dates for future consoles, with the Valve Steam Deck pushed back into 2022. Both Sony and Nintendo have also revised their sales estimates for the upcoming year and the beginning of 2022.

With that said, these issues look like they will continue to plague the gaming industry into 2022 and beyond.

2. Mobile gaming will continue to dominate

As of 2021, the global gaming population surged towards 2.8 billion individuals. Although this staggering figure is interesting enough by itself, what is perhaps more interesting is how this figure breaks down in terms of what type of gaming proves the most popular.

The most significant segments within the gaming industry are mobile games, console games and PC games, which account for 46%, 31% and 23%, respectively. This is particularly interesting, as while much of the focus on the gaming industry is on dedicated gaming devices such as gaming consoles and PCs, the popularity of mobile gaming outstrips them both.

Mobile gaming is expected to grow to 49% in 2022, which would mean that essentially half of the entire gaming population uses mobile games.

This will impact not only the game development plans of the major gaming studios, which continue to produce an increasingly diverse array of mobile games, but we can also expect this trend to spill over into the hardware releases of mobile devices and smartphone manufacturers.

3. Casino industry: primed for more growth

Given the growth in the mobile gaming industry over the last number of years, it is perhaps no surprise that this has helped the casino industry to post some of its biggest earnings reports in recent years. Much like the gaming industry, online casino games benefit from the fact that more people were doing the bulk of their socializing online over the last year.

Adam Nadeau, managing editor of casino review site PlayCasinos, remarked that many online casinos had posted new records in terms of both the total revenue generated and the number of users signing up to its platforms.

“Although in-person socialising is back on the menu for many of us around the world, this does not mean that this growth is due to slow down, with some industry reports expecting the global gambling market to hit $876bn by 2026,” Mr Nadeau commented.

4. Live streaming will continue to grow

Although live streaming games have been popular ever since broadband internet and thermostats were made more accessible, over the last five years, it has truly exploded in popularity.

As a sure sign of this growth, a sizable chunk of the most subscribed YouTube channels are focused on live streaming games, with what was once very much a niche form of entertainment now firmly entering into the mainstream.

Live streaming has proved popular among fans because it allows them to interact with their audiences and the community that has built up around them. With the influx of corporate sponsors and platform subscription models, it has also become incredibly lucrative. One of the most popular Twitch streamers is Ninja, whose net worth is estimated at $25 million.

By all accounts, this steady growth looks set to continue into 2022. One industry report predicts a global audience of 920 million by 2024 from around 700 million in 2021. This equated to a staggering 18 billion hours of live streaming video game content watched in Q1 and Q2 of 2021 alone!

With this level of audience growth, we can expect to see some shifts in the industry as dominant live streaming platforms look to consolidate their position in the market while also expanding their audiences.

2022: the year of cloud gaming?

Although cloud-based gaming has been around for quite some time already and is constantly getting hyped up as the next big thing, it has never fully arrived on the gaming scene, with gamers preferring dedicated gaming devices or mobile devices that use locally stored apps.

With the rise of new technologies such as 5G internet and fibre cable broadband, however, the technology might finally have caught up to the point where cloud-based gaming will now be not just a realistic option but also a preferable one.

This certainly seems apparent by how the big players in the gaming industry are responding to this trend, with Xbox, Shadow, Amazon Luna and Google all beefing up their cloud-based gaming solutions in recent months and years.

Gaming in the cloud might also seem like a practical option given the supply chain issues that have plagued the video game hardware industry over the last year.