PC, Mac gaming to top $24bn
Personal computer and Mac gamer spending and direct banner/video ad outlays across all digital channels will grow to over $24 billion worldwide by 2017, according to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) new digital PC and Mac gaming software and services forecast.
The forecast also found that global digital PC/Mac game revenue will rise about 4% per year between 2012 and 2017. North American digital PC/Mac gaming revenue, however, is forecast to slip at the margins over the forecast period.
This is mainly the result of the cannibalisation of casual-leaning, browser-centric games (typified by Zynga's Farmville 2) by smartphones and tablets, states the IDC, adding that this is further compounded by a steady drop in hard-core subscription revenue (typified by Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft).
The IDC notes that digital PC/Mac gaming revenue outside North America should expand by more than 5% per year through 2017. This, it says, will be largely driven by rising living standards in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) and the inability of game consoles to establish much of a beachhead in key developing economies.
"Other than the casino genre, it's been tough sledding for most casual-leaning PC game genres in the past year," says Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at IDC. "Most of the growth is coming from hardcore-oriented freemium titles such as Tencent's and Riot Games' League of Legends, Valve's Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 and Wargaming.net's World of Tanks.
The forecast also points out that Valve's Steam service has a significant opportunity to expand into North American and western European living rooms in the next few years based on the company's Steam Machines initiative.
"Demand for prepaid digital games should remain stable if not rise at the margins through 2017 partly because key developers, publishers and platform providers will ramp up their offerings on HDTVs," adds Ward. "The difference between what PCs, consoles, micro-consoles and perhaps even smart TVs will be able to deliver three years from now will be mostly semantic. The platforms that outperform will have great games, a wise mix of business models, an ability to strain key customer insights out of a sea of big data, and offer great a social experience."
The IDC report breaks out North American totals from a combined rest of the world region. It segments subscription, prepaid download and add-on, and freemium gamers and revenue. Hard-core versus casual PC/Mac gaming dynamics are also considered in the 48-page report.