Grand Theft Auto V is the sort of game that has set all sorts of records. It conquered multiple platforms, coming to the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. It made $800 million on launch day and $1 billion in its first three days. Over 90 million copies have been shipped as of April 2018, with over $6 billion total made so far. And the figures keep growing, thanks its online portion’s continued updates and growth. As MarketWatch pointed out, this one game has made more money than any movie ever. After all, Avatar was the highest grossing movie of all time, making $2.8 million, and this far outpaced it. Such success might make someone wonder if this could end up eventually indicating an industry shift.
When it comes to finding ways of entertaining people now, most people might suggest the basics. Movies bring in lots of money and appeal to huge audiences. TV shows do too, especially with streaming services popping up to allow more direct access to shows you want at any time without worrying about broadcast or cable channels’ schedules. Music is always a reliable money maker. But in the last 10 years, video games have been steadily growing to not only become a fourth pillar, but perhaps be the most successful one.
Given the diversity of the industry, the rapid growth of certain hit titles, and the opportunity for a game to become a steady stream of revenue, perhaps it means games could become the number one source of entertainment within the next 10 or 20 years. The number of people who game has always been growing, due to the numbers of genres increasing. Not to mention, the availability of platforms. People can be playing on consoles, handhelds, and PCs, as always. But, now there are also browser-based games through sites like Facebook with major audiences and people playing every day on their phones and tablets.
We already have the solid example of GTA V being a runaway hit. (Not to mention, any Rockstar title.) But we have a number of reliable series that can be counted upon to deliver millions in sales from sold copies, then continue to deliver funding over the years due to the high quality of past installments and desire to own them. Call of Duty gets yearly installments. The series as a whole has sold over 250 million copies as of February 2016, making over $15 billion, and Call of Duty: WWII made over $1 billion by the end of 2017. Pokemon is another major player. Over 300 million games in the series have been sold worldwide as of 2017, with seven million copies of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sold between November 17, 2017 and December 31, 2017. Knowing that people will show brand loyalty is important and could encourage investment. Especially when these things branch off and also inspire animated series, movies, books, and toys.
There are also the opportunities for fad games that quickly seize attention. These are the titles that appear out of nowhere and quickly take over public consciousness. They can be mobile or standard sorts of games. Angry Birds was one, for a time. Minecraft has become one of the most enduring, and even spawned a Minecraft: Story Mode adventure series. (As a reminder, over 144 million copies of this game have been sold across all platforms so far!) Most recently, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds have become hugely successful on PCs, consoles, and even mobile devices. They top the charts on stores like Steam, iTunes, Google Play, the Xbox Store, and the PlayStation Store. When this happens, and especially when free-to-play versions appear, we see a rapid influx of people across generations joining in, not to mention a large number of developers and publisher cashing in as well.
While Grand Theft Auto V may be an exception, as not all games find that extraordinary level of success, it is far from the only title to do well. Games have been growing in popularity and scope since their inception. They are quickly becoming a more accepted and popular form of entertainment. With titles like GTA V, Call of Duty, Pokemon, Minecraft, and Fortnite performing so well and bringing in people who normally would not be so devoted to the form of entertainment, one can only wonder if we could see games become the most popular option in the next 10, 20, or 30 years.