US Gaming Trends Poised to Continue in 2021

US Gaming Trends Poised to Continue in 2021

It has been a colossal year for gaming globally, particularly in the massive market of the United States. The big-money industry has continued to grow in popularity, emerging further from its stigmatised state as a niche entertainment medium to go mainstream and beyond.

By June 2020, US video game spending – across software, hardware, and accessories – had already climbed to its highest point since 2010, with it surging beyond the halfway mark thanks to major releases. It’s not just in console and PC that video gaming has seen an enormous surge across the country, with other classic and more casual forms of gaming becoming ever more prominent across the US.

Many elements that comprised this surge will certainly dip in 2021, with 2020 presenting a particularly unique situation for all entertainment industries. Some will build on their showing last year, though, and continue to trend through the next 12 months.

Digital gaming trends on accessible platforms to continue

These smaller titles are not often considered to be a part of the general, popular video gaming conversation. However, digital games that don’t require expensive hardware to play boast millions of players across the US. Be it through mobile apps, mobile sites, or web browsers, Americans are still enjoying game time on the more accessible titles.

The ones that make up the most significant trend this year are both the oldest and most associated with the US as an entertainment pastime, as well as the newest to the digital scene. A good example here is the online casino sector, an industry that continues to expand across the US. The industry itself is known for utilising classic casino titles, alongside developed digital enhancements to provide an effective melting pot of online entertainment that is slowly making its way across the entirety of the country. For example, Legal Betting details casino games in the US are widely available, with more states opening up to online gambling as time passes. As it stands, video poker and slots have been the most popular, with live dealer games picking up steam.

As more sites are introduced to states that permit online casino gaming, the competition will increase, more games will be introduced, and more Americans will play. Furthermore, more states are coming into the fold each year; so, it seems a near-certainty that this gaming trend will continue into 2021. It’s a similar trend seen in mobile gaming, with one of the highest-grossing free mobile apps being gambling-orientated.

Coin Master, a game of spinning a virtual slot machine to upgrade various villages, has only recently dropped out of the top-ten among Apple users in the US. That said, the trend set to perpetuate through next year from the app stores is that of communal mobile gaming. Despite the headlines going elsewhere, perhaps the biggest game of the year has been Roblox.

A game that allows you to create worlds, visit others, play the games made by others, and do it all among friends has caught on like wildfire. Other community-driven mobile games like Among Us have also caught on, as has the better-in-multiplayer RPG Genshin Impact. Competitive mobile games have ruled for a long time, but now developers are finding that it’s just as lucrative to offer a game that encourages players to have fun together.

Next-gen surges from Japan, while annual games rule the sales

The biggest story of the year in hardware-driven video gaming was the launch of the next generation of consoles. Microsoft came out with the Xbox Series X and the cut-price Xbox Series S while Sony launched its PlayStation 5 a couple of days later. The PS5 grants access to new, exclusive next-gen games, while the XSX offers the same games and user experience as its predecessor, the Xbox One.

As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the PlayStation console is estimated to have vastly outsold the Xbox, by about 2.5 million units to 1.4 million. This looks to be a trend that continues, just as it did in the last generation, with the PS5 offering a slate of exclusive new games while the XSX is yet to weigh-in with a big-hitter of its own – at least, one with a nearby or official release date.

Amidst the squabbles of Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo’s younger last-gen hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch, continues to sell very well. Riding wave after wave of classy exclusives from major franchises in 2020, the innovative Switch landed over 6.9 million unit sales in the US, smashing the 11-month sales count of just over 420,000 by November of 2019 across the nation.

On the software front, as noted for the Nintendo Switch, it has been a strong year for game releases. Even though the most anticipated of them all, Cyberpunk 2077, fell a bit flat on performance, it still shifted millions of units. However, US sales charts were perpetually dominated by the annual releases. Madden NFL 21, NHL 21, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, FIFA 21, NBA 2K21, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla remained in lofty positions since their launch.

Across the world of gaming in the US, the classic table and machine games now found online, communal mobile games, Japanese hardware, and annual titles look set to continue to trend through 2021.

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