Accessibility is the next forefront of gaming that will help spark growth in the 2020s era, NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella predicts.
Games-makers like Microsoft and Sony are breaking down barriers for a reason. There's lots of growth potential in unifying consoles, PCs, and mobile with services by virtue of instant accessibility by anyone, anywhere. Games and service ecosystems are transcending console hardware to tap a wider audience using subscription services like Project xCloud and Google Stadia as an avenue (not to mention the upcoming Amazon and Verizon game streaming services). Cross-saves and cross-play are huge forces of this new era that tie directly into this "play anywhere, with anyone" focus, and will continue being implemented by gaming's biggest multiplayer-driven publishers.
A recent report from the NPD Group's Mat Piscatella breaks down why accessibility is so important.
In the past 20 years, publishers and console-makers established the foundation for this growth; in the 2000s, connectivity made the roots of the industry with services like Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network. In the 2010s, the roots of connectivity grew into the trunk of services and service-based games, the current bedrock of the games industry.
Now in the 2020s, accessibility will be the branches that bear fruit for millions of consumers worldwide. The main pathway to accessibility is streaming, subscription, and cloud services that deliver games to the devices consumers already own while also tying existing games hardware--PC, consoles, Switch--to a more unified webwork of sharing via cross-play and cross-saves.
We're already seeing this focus manifest with next-gen console hardware. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are built on one thing above all else: Accessibility.
Every feature, from the super-fast SSD and new Navi and Zen 2 CPU SoC to the extensive backward compatibility support, serves the main goal of accessibilityl. In fact, backward compatibility is one of the most important parts of next-gen accessibility, allowing current-gen gamers to carry their entire games libraries forward without having to re-buy any titles.
Once players are introduced to the games themselves, being able to play with their friends irregardless of what platform and carry over their saves will keep them in the ecosystem. As will forward access to games they spend money on. The idea is to create a kind of melting pot of gaming while also preserving brand- and service-oriented ecosystems to ensure gamers have tremendous freedoms in how and what they play.