Predictions for 2021 in Gaming

Just like every offseason in traditional sport, it’s always a fun time to discuss “fantasy” predictions heading into the new year.

Which player will bounce back from a terrible campaign? Or, who will reign as the next champ? Who will take MVP?

You get the gist. I’ll stop there before I get into the sabermetrics of baseball.

But how about “fantasy” predictions in the world of business specifically the exciting world of gaming? 2020’s proven to be an exciting time for those in the space, so why not further explore the ideas of what we can potentially expect for the next calendar year.

PREDICTION 1: Politicians Play

The Democrats played the game correctly during the 2020 campaign. They understood that the younger generation consumes content differently than the older generation. There’s no better way to talk to a fully engaged, younger audience than through gaming and hosting on Twitch.

Click here for the highlight reel on the Biden-Harris campaign through Animal Crossing.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) alongside Ilhan Omar livestreamed the incredibly popular game, Among Us – basically a party game that somewhat resembles Mafia. You know, that game campers used to play at summer camp?

Ocasio-Cortez playing Among Us

The numbers speak for themselves.

Ocasio-Cortez garnered 439,000 viewers, all watching in real time. Having played with popular streamer Pokimane on the same stream doesn’t hurt either. Or does it?

Pokimane’s stream with Ocasio-Cortez

Ocasio-Cortez noticed that there was a game people enjoyed watching and playing. Could you say she was opportunistic? Possibly. But for someone who already has a pretty credible online presence, one could say she’s among the many of us who looks to use the right platform at the right time.

You can watch here for the highlights.

What does that mean for 2021? Look for politicians to play more into gaming as they hear out the younger demographic on what issues concern them.

North of the Border, perhaps we’ll see the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP engage? Comment below on what game you’d like to see your political party be engaged in.

Heck, we’ve already seen Filipino Professional Boxer turned Senator, Manny Pacquiao become the Philippines Brand Ambassador for Mobile Legends.

PREDICTION 2: Further Diversity & Inclusion In-Game

Newzoo recently conducted a study based on a survey among 4000 gamers across the US and UK.

The highlights?

· Women: 45% across the US and UK

· LGBTQ+: 13% in the US & 14% in the UK

· Disabled (including mental health or mobility): 30% in the US and 20% in the UK

· One third of US gamers are Black, Hispanic or Asian, while 13% of gamers in the UK belong to an ethnic minority group

Pretty bold right?

Approximately 50% of respondents feel diversity is important in characters and at the same time avoided playing games that were not meant for them.

Those same respondents expressed that it's important for the games they play to have diverse characters. This sentiment was strongly present among LGBTQ+ respondents, those with disabilities and those who identify as transgender or non-binary. Furthermore, a third of respondents claim that they prefer to play as characters who resemble themselves.

There is definitely a missed opportunity here.

For many LGBTQ+ gamers, the representation for game characters is non-existent or at least not represented well. But, look for publishers to respond to this come 2021. In extension, brands will play a large part in voicing this behind the scenes.

The Last of Us title’s queer representation is groundbreaking. Will it lead the charge in 2021?

I also believe we’ll see brands find a way to align with streamers who have a strong presence for the community. This will in turn further push publishers to make the necessary adjustments to ensure gaming is much more inclusive in a way where it speaks to their audience.

We’ve already seen steps in the right direction without brand involvement when taking a look at examples like The Last of Us and XBOX. The Last of Us game provided a leap for LGBTQ+ representation and XBOX also providing an adaptive controller.

PREDICTION 3: The Bubble Will Continue

Just like what we’ve seen with the NBA and NHL, the bubble ‘format’ will continue into esports for 2021.

For League of Legends fans, the World Championships this past September-October saw a number of safety protocols aligning with the Chinese standards to decrease the chances of COVID-19 spread among players and team staff.

Your 2020 League of Legends World Champions, Damwon Gaming.

The Washington Post spoke with a number of participants during the event. You can click here to get an inside look of the feeling around what was implemented.

But why do I feel like the bubble will continue?

My biggest reason behind it is the level playing field. Everyone will receive the same experience.

Back in August, the Call of Duty League experienced connectivity issues during the playoffs. This already led to a belief that at some point in competition, whether it be in Call of Duty or another league, there would be a bubble to ensure the integrity of game play.

Toronto ULTRA’s Anthony Zinni (@Methodz) on his experience with the outage.

More on player reaction from this ESPN article.

PREDICTION 4: Beauty Products in Streaming

If you’ve paid attention to some of the influencers on Instagram, you’ll know that beauty products have its place. So why not Twitch?

40% of all gamers are women based on a stat from Newzoo.

In addition, the art of cosplay has an authentic intersect with gaming – one that is evident in Asia’s market. In fact, many players enjoy cosplay and are already using MAC products for their cosplay.

In a survey done last year, 59% of esports fans said they tend to buy products they see advertised in esports. What does that mean?

You can bet that the characters or champions seen in a League of Legends game or Overwatch definitely carries merit in what players are looking to do with their cosplay. MAC Cosmetics was already one of the most active brands in the gaming space last year and I can bet that designer hand bags and other beauty product placements will carry onto the new year.

Benefit Cosmetics did a fantastic video series earlier this year showcasing some of the best gamers who inspire skill, confidence and radiate positivity called “Game Face”.