From quality and quantity of game types to story lines and more, gaming in 2016 was one that both impressed and astounded. Some random thoughts:

  • The fact that mobile gaming continues to trend is great, though we’ve found that UA drives many more downloads than PR. Editors that care about mobile games are tougher than ever to find, even though there are more players than ever. What does this mean as we head into 2017? I look forward to finding out. We envision the rise of premium content once again; games that continue to innovate can make noise in the media, but the flip side of that is licensed products and well-known IPs, which can get traction based on their lineage.
  • We watched a number of titles reaffirm the influence that Twitch and YouTube coverage can have directly on sales. It’s not easy – in fact, it’s getting more competitive all the time. With rare exceptions, you need a dedicated content creator strategy in conjunction with traditional PR to see results. But I’m continually amazed at the sheer variety of games – games that might have been written off a couple years ago – that make it big on these platforms.
  • 2016 was a year that brought casual gamers and even non-gamers back into the conversation in many ways – Overwatch, Pokemon Go, Clash Royale, and Super Mario Run all broke through as topics my extended family would bring up with me. And while not fully ready to transition yet, I think this holiday season was one in which a number of mainstream consumers started paying attention to 4K technology.
  • With relatively affordable mobile VR rigs, console-based PlayStation VR, and high-end PC systems, VR finally arrived in 2016. Having played through quite a bit of VR stuff in 2016, I’m a firm believer in the medium. We’re still looking for that killer app though. The entry costs (both price and space/hardware required) as they stand now for non-mobile VR really challenge the question of what constitutes a must-have game in VR. Now that the pieces are in place, I’m interested to see how this sector evolves next.

As I think about the industry now, gaming feels increasingly personal and varied. And it’s not just about the games themselves. It’s about how people find about how them, how we make connections with them, and how we make connections with one another through them. 2016 was a year in which you could totally tune out the real world in VR or go to a park at 10 PM with 100 others in search of Pokemon. It was a surprising year. And that makes me very optimistic for what’s around the corner.

Rob Fleischer

[Image: Forbes]