The Two Igloos A-Z of Gaming
What is NFT gaming? What does GaaS mean? And why is luxury streetwear brand Balenciaga on this list? Read on to find out.
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An American games company, recently purchased by Microsoft for a hefty $68.7 billion. The sale is significant as it positions Microsoft as the world’s third-largest gaming company (behind Tencent and Sony) and signals the inclusion of Activision’s titles – Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft, etc., – on the Xbox Game Pass.
A luxury streetwear brand that, in September 2021, launched a range of digital skins on Fortnite. While Balenciaga’s real-world line is out of reach for many, the digital Fortnite cosmetics retailed at a fraction of the cost. This allowed the brand to reach a wider audience while retaining its exclusivity, exemplifying how high-end brands are rushing into the metaverse hoping to mold younger gamers into future buyers.
Call of Duty
First-person shooter franchise published by Activision. Call of Duty’s Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard titles were the top-selling video games in the United States in 2021.
A free voice, video, and text chat app, that first gained popularity as a ‘gaming adjacent’ service. It’s primarily a collection of servers (or customizable hubs), both public and private, where users congregate to chat and play games together.
A funding model popular with indie developers, but also common for AAA games. By offering forthcoming titles at pre-release stages of development, developers are able to fix bugs and gauge consumer interest before the official release, all the while raising money through early access sales.
Although gaming is typically thought of as male-dominated, the number of female gamers is on the rise, and in 2021 women accounted for 45 per cent of gamers in the United States.
Games as a Service (GaaS)
A continuing revenue model where games are monetized either as part of a subscription service or through in-game ‘microtransactions’. Examples of subscription models include Microsoft’s Xbox game pass and PlayStation’s PS Plus. In contrast, popular free-to-play (FTP) game, Fortnite, is monetized through microtransactions. Gamers can purchase V-bucks – Fortnite's in-game currency – and exchange these for digital skins, loot, and other items that enhance their gameplay.
The term hyper-casual refers to games with minimalist interfaces that are easy to play, and usually free. In 2021, the majority of mobile game downloads were hyper-casual. This trend is predicted to continue into 2022.
A person or small group of people that develops games independently, without the financial support of a larger studio. Although most indie games receive little attention, some like Among Us from Innersloth and Stardew Valley by Eric Barone (a.k.a. ConcernedApe) have become huge hits thanks to increased access to powerful tools (e.g., unreal and unity game engines), and the greater audiences offered by digital marketplaces (e.g., Steam).
Among Us, for example, is a multiplayer social deduction game that was developed using the unity engine. Although the game was first released in 2018 for IOS/Android and Windows, its popularity surged mid-2020 when gameplay was broadcast by Twitch streamers. The game has since been ported to Nintendo Switch and released digitally for PlayStation and Xbox.
English professional footballer and new owner of a Rainbow Six Siege eSports team. Lingard brought the team in September 2021, adding it to the umbrella of his JLINGZ brand, confident his professional sports experience will translate to the team-focused first-personal shooter game. Although the move seems unusual, there is a growing precedent of football eSports cross-overs. David Beckham, for example, co-owns Guild Esports which competes across Fortnite, Rocket League, FIFA, and Valorant.
Mobile games studio, best known as the makers of Candy Crush, one of the first and arguably most successful free-to-play mobile games. Although King has a number of other games under its banner (Bubble Witch Saga, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run), and launched two Candy Crush spin-offs (Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga) the original is still its flagship with over a trillion levels played since the game’s launch a decade ago.
League of Legends
An FTP multiplayer battle game, marred by the toxicity of its online community. The game struggles with in-game verbal abuse to such an extent that its developer, Riot Games, has felt the need to implement reporting systems to deal with player conduct and has recently disabled the /all chat feature, previously used to communicate with opponents during battles.
Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO)
Most of which are MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Popular titles include World of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls, and Final Fantasy. These ambitious games are hugely popular – to date, players have collectively spent around 9 million years in World of Warcraft’s Azeroth, a longer time frame than that of human evolution.
NFT* games are typically (although not always) play-to-earn games that make use of emerging blockchain technologies. They differ from other games as they allow gamers to sell or trade in-game assets, and therefore function as independent markets and digital economies.
One notable example is Axie Infinity, a Pokémon-like crypto game developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis. To play, gamers first purchase a set of Axies (NFTs of cute monsters) with the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which they can then use to battle, explore or breed with other Axies. Gameplay involves mining AXS tokens – an Ethereum token of which there is a finite amount.
(*NFT stands for non-fungible token. In essence, these are a mark of ownership. The owner of an NFT owns the license for a unique digital asset.)
Virtual reality headset brand, acquired by Meta (ex-Facebook) in 2014 for $2 billion, signalling the company’s ambition to become the metaverse brand. Meta has since switched out Quest’s ‘Oculus’ for its own name, rebranding to Meta Quest.
Gaming platform, consoles, and cloud subscription services from Sony. The first PlayStation console launched in the mid-90s, years ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox, and in direct competition with Nintendo and Sega. Since then, Sony has released multiple iterations of the PlayStation, the most recent of which – the PlayStation 5 – hit the market in 2020.
A task, common in role-playing games, that a player’s character needs to complete in order to gain a reward (i.e., loot, access to new levels, additional character skills or abilities). Quests are typically included as narrative devices to aid either storyline or character development.
A free-to-play multiplayer gaming platform, primarily aimed at children, where users can create their own games and play games created by other users. The platform is rated suitable for children aged 7 and over (by PEGI), has stricter settings for those under 13, and includes a suite of parental controls. Nonetheless, it's been the subject of recent controversy as reporters raise the alarm over user-generated content of an adult nature.
Digital marketplace from Valve. Steam currently dominates digital PC gaming, breaking its own all-time record for concurrent users in early 2022 by hosting just under 28 million people on the platform at the same time.
Interactive live-streaming service big with gamers. The service experienced a surge in viewing activity during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as viewers collectively watched more than 3 billion hours of content in the first quarter of 2020.
Unity and Unreal Engine
Rival games engines developed by Unity Technologies and Epic Games (respectively). Also referred to as game architecture, these engines provide a software development environment that helps designers build their games, and as they are offered at affordable price points, are credited with leveling the field between indie and AAA developers.
Video Card Shortage
From late 2020 to early 2022, pandemic-related supply chain issues combined with increased crypto-mining-fueled demand for powerful cards, creating an 18-month-long graphic card shortage. This rendered PC building (popular among gamers) futile and led to double-digit market growth of full PCs.
World of Warcraft
Popular MMO game from Blizzard Entertainment. This role-playing game is noted for its long lifespan, with continued developer support and eight expansion packs since its initial release in 2004.
Gaming platform, consoles, and cloud subscription service from Microsoft.
YouTube Gaming initially launched as a stand-alone app aimed at gamers and gaming content creators. Google introduced the app in 2015 but, due to low traction, discontinued it just 4 years later, launching a gaming vertical on the main YouTube app in its place.
The female namesake of The Legend of Zelda series, one of Nintendo's most well-known franchises.