As we near the end of 2021 it is time to look back at my predictions for 2021 and see how I did. In 2020 I gave myself a B (3.25 out of 4) and you can read my 2020 predictions and self evaluation here. You can read my self-grading for 2021 for each prediction here. This year I scored myself at 3.77 (out of 4), a strong A-.
1. Again, just like last year, my first prediction is that we will continue to see many big deals (at big valuations) in the video game industry. I still expect the most likely big IPOs to be Discord and Epic. Last year we saw numerous acquisitions of game companies over $1B and I expect we will see that again this year, as well as a growing amount of funding going to earlier stage venture-backed gaming companies.
2. Again, repeating one of my predictions from 2021, I expect the “creator economy” – people and businesses who make money from creating things ranging from handicrafts, to games, to videos, and music, as examples – to grow dramatically. Many companies pay some of the revenue from these creations to the “creators” – the people who make the items or content. And some companies offer “creator funds” where they can make “grants” to creators to produce their “assets” and they split the revenue between the company (the platform) and the creators. Good examples of this are Roblox, which had a very successful IPO earlier in 2021, as well as Overwolf – a private company with substantial venture funding that focuses on video game modifications and other software related to gaming. Overwolf’s creator fund was originally provided by Intel INTC -0.6%.
3. Disney+ and Netflix NFLX -0.8% are the absolute winners of the SVOD wars, particularly in the U.S. and it is unlikely that HBO/Warner Bros. or Paramount+ or any of the other services will come close to the success of Disney and Netflix.
4. Cord-cutting will continue and move into the double digits this year. This trend is accelerating and the traditional cable companies will need to depend on Internet service and other products for their future growth.
5. Some people have rumored that Apple will buy a movie and TV studio to add substantial programming heft to the Apple TV offering. I can’t imagine Apple would like managing a Hollywood studio, or tolerate their expensive operations. Rather I would expect Apple to buy movie and TV libraries and continue to enter into production deals with various producers and their companies.
6. Connected TV (smart TV and other ways to connect your TV to the Internet) will continue to grow dramatically as more and more viewers will start using the various “extras” on CTV not just watching the SVOD services or the standard “broadcast” signals. One growing area is free games on CTV, for instance.
7. We will see big increases in two types of digital advertising in the U.S. – Connected TV advertising (already becoming big money) as well as mobile advertising which is growing as demand for mobile advertising avails increases. This will include a growing presence of advertising inside video and mobile as a new means of reaching consumers and driving revenue to the game makers.
8. NFTs are not a fad, nor is blockchain, or cryptocurrency. These parts of the “new economy” are real and driving billions of dollars of transactions around the world. People love to collect and trade items, probably since the days of the earliest human precursors. NFTs will be used to digitally identify and trade “objects” or virtual goods – which could be items in a game – or could be a partial ownership over a digital (or a real world object) like a piece of art. NFTs bring collecting and trading to the digital space and games are emerging as one of the primary early applications of NFTs in the digital world.
9. Audio advertising is getting a revival due to the growth of podcasts and live streaming. In an “ad product” that harkens back to the early days of radio, much of the audio advertising found on digital services are live ads delivered by the podcaster and/or the streamer (live streaming content like esports game play). For example, a streamer might say “When I am done with this podcast, I am going home to a Bud Lite”. A great example of this growing approach is from StreamElements where they offer a digital platform for advertisers and live streamers to match-up. Live, audio ads are another way to break through the clutter and reach consumers using digital platforms.
10. Web 3.o – It seems like this is the year that Web 3.0 will be defined. It appears that the “digerati” are heading towards considering “The Metaverse” to be Web 3.0. Many of the analysts I respect see the metaverse more as a “style” of digital interaction rather than one central location (like Disney World). There are in fact already many “metaverse-y” type digital events – concerts in Fortnite by Epic, a kids “teleport” in a game by Toya (Miraculous LadyBug) from Roblox that took these kids to a Netflix kids “event” elsewhere in Roblox. All of the virtual worlds, including older ones like Second Life, which is very profitable, are examples of elements of what the Metaverse is and what the Metaverse can be. Web 3.0 will become known for decentralization, further AI decision-making, interoperability across items and digital services, and an expanded version of community and identity.
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