Serious games for serious growth

Reports show highest growth for game-based learning.

A couple of recent industry reports that I’ll highlight in this blog, have indicated very high growth for the worldwide serious games market over five years, for the period 2014-2019.

One report, published by Infiniti Research Limited in July 2015 forecasts that the global game-based learning market will grow at a CAGR of 6.47% over the period 2014-2019 and another for that same period by Ambient Insight forecast a 21.9% CAGR.

The disparity may indicate just how diverse this marketplace is and reflect the different approaches the two research organisations have taken on which types of games to include – and what qualifies as ‘serious games’, or ‘games based learning’. But either way this is great news for us at Totem Learning, a serious games and simulations studio based in the UK.

Several of us have been in the industry for over a decade and remember the days when half the battle was explaining what serious games are and why on earth you would use video games for learning and development!

These reports validate our own first-hand experience. Exhibiting at shows such as Learning Technologies in January this year, there was a completely different energy. We no longer had to explain what serious games are – Learning and Development professionals just ‘got it’. Instead conversations were around the best kind of game mechanics to support different learning objectives.

Discussions back at Totem HQ on why this shift had happened, centred round the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, the reduced cost of technology, the maturation of the market and the change in the workforce and their expectations.

I was able to attend a highly informative webinar hosted by Serious Games Association and delivered by Sam S Adkins, Chief Research Officer – Ambient Insight. You can view a video of the webinar on the Serious Games Association’s YouTube channel, but I’ve picked out a few key points here:

Firstly Ambient Insight are very transparent about the Taxonomy that they use for categorising Serious Games – it can be downloaded from their website.

It’s worth noting that they do not consider game-based learning as a subset of the video games market but rather as a subset of the learning technologies market.

The following slide shows the incredible growth rate of the game-based learning market – compared to other learning technologies. However it must be noted that e-learning still generates more revenues than all other six combined.

Next 1999-H1/ 2015 Global Private Investment in Learning Technology Companies. This shows the amount of money flowing into technology companies for game-based learning; $86.3m so far this year, even though we are only in the first half of 2015. This is a phenomenal growth in investment.

The report goes on to separate out serious games/ game-based learning and simulations.

The next slide looks at the worldwide game-based learning market by region, and predicts that the global market will be worth $4.9 billion by 2019. The emerging markets have the steepest increase, while the established markets will continue to bring the highest revenues. Asia will dominate the market for serious games.

The next slide shows a breakdown of the serious games market by buyer segment. Consumers are by far the largest segment but sectors such as tertiary education are set to increase significantly.

The following slide demonstrates the impact of tablet and mobile devices on learning technologies and shows that non-mobile serious games are forecast a 12.5% decline by 2019. We would argue at Totem Learning however that not all games are suitable for mobile as you cannot achieve the same level of immersion on a smaller screen.

In the next slide – this time looking at the North American market only, Ambient has predicted five year growth rates for the six different types of mobile learning games that they have identified. Augmented Reality (a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data). look set to have a very significant growth rate.

In summary, if you’re in learning and development or education and have been wondering whether to make the transition to game-based learning, these reports should give you the confidence that serious games are not a fad, but a serious training medium that has evolved and is gaining momentum and recognition for its effectiveness. For examples or more information about serious games please get in touch on