In 2011, Marc Andreessen wrote one of the seminal thought pieces in the history of Venture Capital. Why Software is Eating the World basically was the rubberstamp that the age of the internet had truly arrived. Going back and reading it today, it almost reads as quaint. The idea that every company is a tech company is so widely accepted today, that it is hard to believe that under a decade ago this was a novel insight.
I am not Marc Andreessen. And I probably never be.
He is one of the forefathers of the internet in addition to being the founder of one of the world’s top venture capital firms. The only things I ever founded are this blog and the school of fashion consisting entirely of Polos + Gym Shorts.
I don’t expect this post to ever reach the same rarified air that his did. But I do believe one day one on the same topic might.
And that is because, though gaming isn’t eating the world today,
I believe that it one day will.
Getting excited about gaming and esports (not eSports, I have gotten flammed for that before so watch out) is not exactly a revelation these days. Every investor and their great grandmother’s aunt Judithe is paying attention to the space. The larger gaming market is going to do about $152B in revenue this year that figure is expected to grow to $180B by 2021. Compare that to the traditional sports market which is worth in the neighborhood of $500B (but has about a 4,000-year head start) and you can start to see why people Judithe is putting her retirement money into a Croatian GS: GO team. More people watch videogame streams any given day than tune in to the NFL. It is a massive and quickly growing industry.
That all is great, but I’m not telling you anything new.
I don’t want to talk about how gaming is the future of entertainment.
I want to talk about how gaming is the future of EVERYTHING.
I believe that gaming and esports will become so much more than simply entertainment. As I pointed out above, that is an interesting opportunity worth investing in, in and of itself, but honestly, I think people are sleeping on just how big gaming really will be.
You had one Job
You know me. Big Future of Work guy. Gaming is a big reason for that. Gaming is going to create countless jobs in the years to come.
There will be the obvious jobs that have been part of the industry for some time now. Game development/marketing/ etc.
Then there will be the modern gaming jobs.
Esports athletes. Tournament casters. Esport reporters and news personalities. Video game streamers. These are already here and not only can you make a pretty penny from them, but they are the new aspirational careers for Gen Z.
What I am really intrigued by is the next wave of jobs. New technologies like Tokenization could the potential for creatives to buy and sell their digital wares within the economies of games themselves. Selling skins for characters and items is nothing new, that’s how many game companies make the bulk of their revenue off of free-to-play games (the most expensive CS:GO skin was sold for over $60K). A16Z had a really interesting podcast recently on the future of gaming monetization. New strategies to incent early adopters, creatives, and entrepreneurs could allow people to support themselves off of creating and selling digital goods. Imagine Etsy but for digital goods to be displayed on digital avatars. This is the way the world is going and it will be a massive opportunity for gamers and creatives alike to build income through jobs that have never existed before. And the best part is that they could do it from anywhere on earth.
Gamify me, Captain
Not only will gaming grow in new and unexpected ways, but I predict that it will start to permeate other aspects of our world. Many of the cutting edge technologies of our day like AI and high-end processors started off in the gaming world, it is not a stretch to believe that other aspects of gaming will make the jump into other industry verticals.
Today we are currently experiencing the consumerization of the enterprise stack with technologies like Slack and Zoom. Tomorrow we will see the gamification of the enterprise stack.
Generally, when people hear the term ‘gamification’ they think of stickers or leader boards. Really what gamification is is the creation of compelling incentive structures that re-frame something mundane in a compelling way. This could mean taking advantage of people’s competitive nature to try to perform better against their coworkers. Or adding a layer of abstraction to create user enjoyment where there wasn’t one before. There are already examples of teams being effectively trained through gamified modules instead of the traditional boring training seminars. I expect that this will only continue to grow and touch more aspects of people’s jobs. It is much less expensive to keep a current employee than to try to get a new one. Gamification can be powerful tools borrowed from the world of gaming to drive increased retention and employee engagement.
Of course, work is just one of many aspects where we will see a growing influence of gamification. Relationships, education, and healthcare are just a few of the aspects of our life that would stand to benefit from utilizing some of the tools and strategies developed by the world of gaming. One of the trends that I am most excited to watch is the improving UX of work. The adage that “work is supposed to fill like work” is quickly growing extinct. Today billion-dollar companies are being built by removing friction from work and simply making things like collaboration and communication not suck. I believe that tomorrow we will see billion dollar companies built to make work actually fun.
Here Today, Game Tomorrow
If you aren’t paying attention to the world of gaming and esports, you are sleeping at the wheel. Gaming is no longer for kids or the counter culture. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that is not only here to stay, but one that will continue to seep into more and more aspects of our everyday life.
My focus is not on the business as it is today, but on all that it could become in the future.
See you at the Auction House.