Here in the 21st century, gaming is at the centre of the entertainment industry. It’s now regarded as the most popular form of at-home entertainment, pulling in larger audiences than music and movies combined.
Furthermore, the impact that gaming has had on entertainment and consumer tech has been massive. We’ve seen gaming innovations inform several industries and sectors in the media and tech ecosystems, while games themselves have become digital hubs for community, engagement and camaraderie.
The tremendous growth that the past few years have brought the gaming industry makes it a sector that can no longer be ignored. Here in Ireland, key developments in 2022 have seen it going from strength to strength.
The Gaming Industry
The latest industry forecasts indicate that the global games market will generate as much as $196.8 billion by the end of 2022, reaching approximately 3.2 billion gamers in the process. A surging interest in gaming since 2020 has seen the market going steadily year on year, with new innovations and increasingly advanced technology making gaming, in effect, “recession-proof”.
Engagement continues to remain consistently high even after the predicted new flurries of interest in gaming generated by high-profile eSports events and the release of the latest generation of gaming consoles: PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The diversity of gaming experiences available essentially democratises the pastime for players across all economic backgrounds, with free-to-play games and subscription services ensuring maximum accessibility.
Here in the digital age, gaming is now an integral part of consumer life and is on track for even further growth in the years to come. Let’s take a look at the role gaming plays in recreation and industry in Ireland and see what lies in store for the industry as 2023 gets underway.
High-Point of Irish Gaming
Ireland became a hub for all things gaming in 2022, as players flocked to cities like Dublin and Belfast to take part in major events.
October saw the return of GamerFest to the country, with a focus on top-tier Irish gaming talent. Over two days at the RDS, the event brought together gaming fans, players, content creators and industry professionals to celebrate all things gaming.
Revered developers Jonn and (BAFTA-award winning) Brenda Romero were honoured with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognised the formidable pair’s huge contribution to games development in Ireland.
Speaking of game development, the role that Ireland has played in the development of the industry to date was also recognised. Triple-A gaming studios like Riot Games, EA and Activision have all opened hubs on Irish shores, leading many within the industry to declare Ireland “the gateway to Europe” in terms of tech advancement.
A Landmark iGaming Moment
It’s not just video gaming that is undergoing intense growth and development in Ireland; the Irish Parliament has finally published its long-awaited Regulation Bill for real money gaming. The bill, which was welcomed by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) in November, outlines new guidance for land-baed and digital casino gaming and sports betting across the country.
iGaming, in particular, is a market that is enjoying continued appreciation by UK-based gamers, thanks in no small part to leading platforms like PokerStars Casino offering a wealth of card and table games, like roulette, in the digital space with different variants available. The new bill would see Ireland legalise similar platforms, as well as establish a new authority to regulate the practice of real money gaming and betting, and new rules for advertisements.
Card Games Have Their Moment
Speaking of card and table games, there’s even been a resurgence of interest in collectable trading card games and board games among Irish players. In Belfast, for instance, several new gaming venues opened in 2022, including Jack Straws Board Game Café and Roast & Roll.
Additionally, 2022 didn’t just spell the return of GamerFest to Ireland; Belfast also hosted the first Q-Con event since pre-2020. This typically annual event centres on collectable card gaming, and this year included cosplay, board gaming and even arcade gaming exhibits.