The United States is a behemoth of the gaming industry: one that essentially sets many of the trends for at least the western markets. Not only is the country home to the only major non-Japanese console creator, Microsoft, but it’s also home to many of the most prominent developers and publishers in the industry.
Of course, all of this has only been made possible by the love of all forms of gaming across the country. You could trace this back to the days of the Wild West, when people would play card games in saloons or on riverboats. Gaming has evolved tremendously since the days of cards on tables, and now, just video gaming alone yields over $42 billion in revenues in the US, which is only $2 billion behind China.
So, what trends and releases look set to headline the US scene in 2021 and beyond?
As always, software dictates the gaming industry
There’s always a lot of hype surrounding the console wars, but the real drivers of consoles are the games – which is why the Xbox continues to lose out to the PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. Last year was huge for major releases, and while many are yet to be announced, this year’s set to be a big one, too.
Finishing up the first half of 2021 will be the June releases of Game Builder Garage, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Aapart, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and Scarlet Nexus. On to July, and the year’s second Monster Hunter title (Stories 2: Wings of Ruin) hits the shelves, along with F1 2021 and the remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
Usually, late spring and summer present somewhat lull periods regarding big game releases, but as you can see, 2021 is going to be stuffed with them. As we move towards autumn, despite the presence of these big-hitters, publishers will ramp up their releases, culminating in the colossal mid-November games that traditionally sell incredibly well. So, while those are the headline-making releases to the middle of the year, even bigger games will come later, further cementing this as another colossal year for the industry.
The growing trend of online gaming as more states open up
One of the biggest swings in the gaming scene of the US came in 2018, when states were granted permission to set up their own online betting scenes. While many stuck to just sportsbooks, some ran away with the freedom, introducing Americans to a storied form of gaming that’s long-established in Europe: online casino gaming.
As it stands, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all allow online casino gaming, with the sudden availability of these sites welcoming a new form of gamer in the US. Due to this, there has been a surge of people looking into how to bet, consulting the how-to casino gaming guides and platform reviews before getting in on the action.
As you’d assume, American classics remain among the most popular games on the casino sites, with the likes of blackjack, craps, and poker commanding a huge audience. Furthermore, the new players have become enchanted by the new-age online slots, particularly the high volatility and progressive jackpot games. As states recognize the revenue potential here, more will open to online casinos, making more gamers in the US.
The standard of mobile gaming will improve
May PC and console gamers see mobile gaming as the most inferior form of the entertainment medium. Much of this prejudice has been forged by developers purely building games around encouraging microtransactions, as opposed to skill or earned progression. Still, there are 203 million mobile gamers in the US, with revenues growing to over $10.7 billion in 2020.
Americans clearly enjoy these forms of games, even if the seasoned traditional gamers might not admit to liking the app games. However, there are studios that are putting in the work to raise the prestige of mobile gaming and offer titles that truly exploit the power of modern devices. Among the freemium games, Genshin Impact is the best example of this, with it finding massive success as a full-scale triple-A gacha game.
While there are many ‘premium’ mobile games (those that cost more than $0.00), such as the GTA: San Andreas port, République, Stardew Valley, and Minecraft, the vast majority of playing time and money comes from the free-to-start titles. It takes a brave publisher to do as MiHoYo has with Genshin Impact, but it’s now been proven that there is a demand for high-quality mobile games, so more are sure to follow – Story of Seasons Mobile might just be the next one.
The headline-making parts of US gaming this year are sure to be the biggest game releases, the advent of online casino gaming across a handful of states, and the rise of true triple-A mobile games.