How This Generation Has Made Gaming Into A Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
The entire global games business will be worth more than $100 billion by 2017, according to Digi-Capital and, chances are, it's thanks to us Gen Y-ers. We're the ones who came of age in the digital epoch, never having lived without computers.
PC games, console games, portable games – these were all elevated to an art form while we grew up with keyboards and controllers in our hands. Now, we're the ones pushing the mobile gaming revolution, which means that at least 60 percent of the $100 billion will, without a doubt, be owned by mobile.
Remember your Game Boy Advance? There's a reason you feel so comfy playing RPGs on something as small as a smartphone. It was during our formative years when the Advance sold more than 100 million devices.
We were the first generation to grow up with a mass-produced handheld system that was actually worth hauling around in a backpack.
Maybe you also remember playing Snake on your parents' Nokia phones. Maybe you even have a Snake emulator on your Android. Who would have guessed that a game so utterly simple could have clued designers in to the vast realm of possibilities for mobile gaming?
We could have. We played on our Game Boys until the release of the iPhone and the creation of the App Store. Suddenly, it wasn't about what came preloaded on the phone, a la Snake.
There was a wide open market for third-party game designers and distribution channels that led directly to you, me and everyone else in our demographic.
Developers were making games for us, not for publishers or phone manufacturers. There we were, putting our Nintendo 3DS cases away and loading up our phones with everything from Angry Birds (then) to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Chaos Rings (now).
The modern handheld systems just can't keep up with us. Back in 2011, the 3DS sold so badly that Nintendo had to drop the price by almost a hundred bucks. Part of that was due to the sheer variety. Do you want a couple hundred game options or thousands of them?
Another element that contributed and is still contributing to the demise of portable systems is that the look of mobile games is no longer languishing at the Super Nintendo level. The existence of incredible mobile GPUs, like Qualcomm Snapdragon, means games can be as epic as they look.
It's no longer a toss-up between graphics, speed and length of play, so why have two devices when you can do everything on one?
It is and it isn't a radical shift. Considering that we've held on to that old DS (and still nostalgically dust off the Pokémon Black every now and then) while carrying ever-improving gaming machines in our pockets, the most shocking thing is probably how slow of a transition it's been.
But, we, Millennials, are nothing if not nostalgic.
Ultimately, we'll mourn the passing of handheld systems (and possibly also console and PC gaming, too), but we'll emulate them all on our phones and tablets so they'll be with us forever.
Gaming itself isn't going anywhere. It shaped us into who we are today and, under our fingers and thumbs, it went mainstream with gamer grandmas and apps for all ages.
We convinced our parents that video games were the key to improved hand-eye coordination back in grade school and then we gave them our old consoles with every upgrade when we went to college.
When 2017 rolls around, you can bet we'll still be playing, leading everyone else toward gaming's next big evolution.