Is the market for browser games dying?

When web browsers became mature in 1990’s, browser video games became popular among gamers. Video games played via the World Wide Web became the pop culture of that era. One of the first known examples of a browser game was Earth 2025 which was first released in 1995. It featured only text but allowed players to interact and form alliances with other players of the game. Since then gaming has come a long way, and has evolved vastly with consoles, mobile gaming apps, coming into the picture. Therefore, many have the perception that browser videogames are actually dying. But is it really dying?

What led to the conception of the idea that the browser gaming industry is dying?

Expansion of broadband connectivity in the early 2000s drew more people to play browser games through websites, as well as added attention as a viral phenomenon. While new sites like Kongregate and Armor Games started hosting Flash-based games while also offering their own titles, companies like PopCap Games and King launched their own portals featuring titles they had developed. Social media sites also drove more players to browser games. Facebook, after launching in 2004, added support for browser game functionality that integrated with its social network features, creating social network games, notably with Zynga’s Farmville.

Flash games were considered to have hit their peak in the mid-2000s but faded by the early 2010s because of two reasons: introduction of app based games and the second factor came from the claimed “death knell” for Adobe Flash via Steve Jobs’ open letter to Adobe in 2010, stating that Apple would not support Flash on the iPhone platform due to security concerns and other factors. About a year after Jobs’ letter, Adobe announced that it would start deprecating Flash and transition users to HTML5 and other open standards in its other products. Adobe completely shut down Flash by 31 December 2020 after giving web developers a few years to prepare for this event. With little future in Flash, developers moved away from the browser platform in the early 2010s.

With Flash support ending, websites that offer Flash-based content like games and animations had no choice but to remove them too. The news has been heartbreaking for many who grew up playing Farmville or Criminal Case and so on. But players can still play them from BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint or through internet archives.

Biggest concern of gamers

The frustration of the gamers due to slow downloads is the major restraining factor in the browser games market. The amount of time it takes to download games has been reported as the biggest issue worldwide, with 33.8 percent pointing this as their key issue.

Experienced gamers are the most worried with download speed, with over 41 per cent of ambitious professionals and experts pointing this out as their primary concern because experienced gamers are more likely to play more complex games requiring larger downloads. Download performance has a greater effect on their gaming experience.

According to the state of online gaming report in 2019, frustration with download speeds is the highest in the United States, where 39.4 per cent of gamers register sluggish downloads as their main concern. Therefore, the frustration of the gamers due to slow downloads is expected to hamper the growth of the browser games market.

What is the future?

According to a recent report by research and markets, the global browser games market is expected to grow from $23.81 billion in 2020 to $24.99 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of five per cent.

The market is expected to reach $34.47 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of eight per cent. Rapid increase in the number of active gamers across the world is driving the browser games market. According to data from League of Betting, the number of online gamers is expected to reach from 877 million in 2020 to one billion by 2024. According to the state of online gaming report in 2019, gamers play for an average of 7.7 hours per week, a 19.3 per cent increase from 2018. Younger players, however, spend much more time playing, with those aged 26-35 play 8.12 hours per week.

Germany and the United States were linked to the highest number of gamers who play at 11.6 per cent per week for more than 20 hours. Therefore, the rapid increase in the number of active gamers across the world is expected to drive the browser games market.

The major players in the browser games market are King Digital Entertainment, NCSOFT, GungHo Online, Zynga, Tencent, Microsoft, Activision Blizzard Inc., Sega, Sony Corporation and Peak Games.

Today many of the browser games have  entered into the  mobile and PC space but there are still many browser games out there which one can play without any hassle of downloading. Some of them are – Prodigy, Powerline.io, RuneScape, NoBrakes.io, BrowserQuest, Everybody Edits, AdventureQuest, Pokémon Showdown, QWOP, Doom, Threes!, Spelunky, Catan Universe, Slither.io, A Dark Room, Wonderputt, Linerider, Chrome Dino game and many more.

As the gaming space is expanding to various platforms, devices are becoming easily accessible  for gamers. The browser games may not be at its peak like early 2000s and its growth rate has comparatively slowed down but it is definitely not dying. It is growing at a slower but constant growth rate.

 

Games