Video games industry experts make predictions for 2021

Each January, Gamesindustry.biz asks industry experts what to look out for over the next twelve months. Last time, analysts were right on a fairly large number of points, from the prices of next-gen consoles to the lack of significant growth in cloud gaming.

In their new projections, the analysts almost unanimously expect that the Nintendo Switch will outsell other consoles, while cloud gaming services will fail to play a more significant role in the market. VR, too, is likely to remain a niche segment in 2021.

We’ve rounded up the most interesting bits from these projections.

Matt Piscatella, NPD Group

  • The Nintendo Switch will be the top console by the number of units sold. This will be driven by promotion and content, rather than a new model.
  • Developers will try to replicate the success of the Call of Duty franchise’s model, which has captured all platforms and markets, from free-to-play titles, including mobile ones, to action-packed AAA games.
  • More online social games will arrive to help customers spend time with friends and family amid the pandemic.
  • Cloud gaming services will not significantly increase their market share. ISPs are yet to figure out how to handle the loads they generate.

Serkan Toto, Kantan Games

  • Nintendo will launch a console supporting 4K in the coming fiscal year.
  • Switch will be the best-selling console in 2021.
  • The PlayStation 5 will outperform the Xbox Series in sales of both consoles and games. In Japan, PS5 is unlikely to beat PS4’s first-year sales.
  • Large companies will continue to acquire independent studios. Most likely buyers include Take-Two, Sony and Microsoft.
  • As the epidemiological situation improves, the capitalization of gaming companies will decline.
  • App stores will have to change their policies in response to pressure from developers. Both Apple and Google will make concessions.

Stephanie Llamas, Superdata

  • More than 3 million Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets will be sold in a year. The model will become the industry standard.
  • The new PlayStation VR headset will not debut until 2022.
  • Developers will be more active in releasing games-as-services for virtual reality.
  • Several expensive augmented reality headsets will hit the market. Truly affordable augmented reality headsets will arrive in 2022.
  • A lot of concerts and sports events will be held in virtual reality.

Jesse Divnich, Interpret

  • As the epidemiological risks decline, so will the gaming audience. Even so, it will not go back to the 2019 level: during the 10 months of the pandemic, players have adopted habits that are not easy to give up.
  • The audience of mobile games will sag the most.
  • The relevance of the virtual reality market will not significantly change over the year.
  • Towards the end of 2021, the market of VTubers, virtual streamers and online avatars will see explosive growth.

Piers Harding-Rolls, Ampere Analysis

  • Nintendo Switch will be the best-selling console of the year.
  • Production of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S will stop.
  • PlayStation 5 will be the best-selling next generation console. About 8.5 million PlayStation 5 will be shipped by the end of March.
  • The second generation of PlayStation VR will arrive in 2022.
  • Cloud gaming services will spread across the globe, but no new major platforms will appear.
  • The spread of cloud gaming services will not affect the PC and console markets.
  • Cloud gaming will begin to integrate more closely into streaming services.
  • PlayStation Now’s audience will reach 4 million by the end of 2021. Xbox Game Pass will have 20 million subscribers that will generate $2 billion in 2021.
  • Popular gaming franchises will be increasingly adapted for mobile devices.
  • Mobile esports will become increasingly popular, especially in Asia.
  • Large holdings and publishers will continue to buy up independent studios.
  • The new audience that got into games thanks to the pandemic will not immediately give up a new hobby. These players will influence the industry in 2021 and further down the road.
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