Amid a horrible year for everyone, gaming had historic growth in 2020. Market researcher Newzoo estimates all game revenues grew 19% to $174.9 billion in 2020. Steam reported in-game purchases were up 21%. U.S. video game sales were up 27% to $57 billion, according to market researcher NPD.
Will it keep going? We’re going to study that at our upcoming game conference, Driving Game Growth. Mobile insights and analytics firm App Annie estimates mobile games, already the biggest segment, will grow 20% to $120 billion in 2021. SuperData is more cautious, saying non-hardware game sales will grow 2% this year.
There are shadows on the horizon, such as Apple’s move to prioritize user privacy over targeted advertising with its changes to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). But game companies like Playtika are exploiting a historic window with initial public offerings, and that window is still open for more to come like Roblox.
There’s a lot at stake here, like jobs. The Entertainment Software Association reported that games directly contributed $40.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019. But as we all know, gaming has gone global and it has created an interdependent ecosystem around the world. So much depends on the continuation of growth.
We’re going to study these things at Driving Game Growth, a partnership between GamesBeat and Facebook on January 26. The conversation will continue with GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse on January 27 and January 28. Over three days, we’ll offer a lot of tactical tips and inspiration for what’s to come. You can see the agenda for day one here and days two and three here. The price is pretty good: free.
The pandemic drove people to play games. Unable to meet in person, they stayed in touch remotely through games, and uninterested in our bleak reality, they played to distract themselves. More new people played than ever, and they cemented their gaming habits because the lockdown lasted so long. Esports went digital and made its way to broadcast television. Gaming stood out even more because it kept growing while other industries from movie production to tourism were paralyzed.
New money from huge institutions from Blackstone to Tencent came into games. Market analyst InvestGame said that deals in games hit a record $33.6 billion across 664 transactions in 2020 when it comes to acquisitions, investments, and public offerings.
But come March and June, it will be extremely hard for companies to organically beat the results they produced in 2020. Beating year-ago numbers could be a herculean task, but investors have come to expect it. We hope to help investors understand games better, through our coverage and our events, so that they can help feed smart growth. By all signs so far, institutional investors will continue to increase their allocations in public game companies, applying roll-up strategies, and becoming limited partners in game-focused VC funds. That’s something that hasn’t happened as much in the past.
We’ll trigger conversations about how to do this at our event. At GamesBeat, our focus is on the whole ecosystem. So at this event, you’ll see game developers, publishers, investors, and more.
One of the elephants in the room will be IDFA, which will now require users to opt-in to share their data for ads. Apple holds the cards there, and it is being especially opaque about exactly how quickly this change will come. The adoption of iOS 14 is happening fast, and it is bound to cause major ad ecosystem changes that our panelists will help explain.
Opening the first day are Rick Kelley, vice president of global gaming at Facebook, and Steve Webb, Facebook Audience Network’s director of global sales and operations. I’ll moderate a discussion with them on Facebook’s perspective on major growth opportunities in 2021. Then I’ll get a different perspective from Josh Yguado, Jam City’s president.
Then we’ll dive deeper with a session on misconceptions about monetization in a conversation with Chris Akhavan, senior vice president at Glu Mobile, and Joseph Kim, CEO of Lila Games.
We’ll look at the environment for acquisitions in 2021 with Nate Morgan of Facebook Audience Network, Kris Davis of Kabam, Rob Ricca of Scopely, and Nick Tuosto of Liontree. Can the industry top 2020’s record of $12.6 billion across 219 closed deals (and $22 billion in announced deals)? I’ll also hold a fireside chat with Jason Rubin, vice president of play at Facebook, about finding more gamers through instantly accessible games and the cloud.
Beyond monetization and growth strategies for today, we’ll also look at opportunities to grow gaming through diversity with a session on culturalizing games and another one on impactful diversity and inclusion initiatives. Well also cover marketing innovation, marketing next-generation consoles, and growing games at scale.
We’ll close the first day with some aspirations for the game industry from Leo Olebe, head of game partnerships at Facebook, and Lual Mayen, who was a refugee for most of his life before he became a game developer. He has started a foundation to help refugees with technology.
And while the event is online only, we have tried to make it more personal. Those who register will be candidates to access Q&A rooms, private networking, one-on-one meetings, and more.
For January 27 and 28, I’ve described more of our metaverse talks on this link. We’ll have speakers such as Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith of R. Talsorian Games; Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards; Siobhan Reddy, head of Dreams creator Media Molecule; and Richard Bartle, a pioneering researcher on AI in games and online gaming.
I hope you attend and support us. Curating events like this is how we’ve stayed alive as a company. And we appreciate your support.
Register for GamesBeat’s upcoming event: