opinion

The Democratization of Adult Gaming

The Democratization of Adult Gaming

During these uncertain times, many headlines in the mainstream press have popped up about the massive increase in our digital media consumption.

From streaming to gaming, consumer traffic and sales have peaked amid lockdown restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that adult content consumption has likewise skyrocketed for the very same reasons, but is this trend reflected in the adult gaming segment?

With improvements in 3D technology and smartphones increasingly capable of handling higher-end gaming, we are seeing more and more ambitious projects heading in that direction.

The answer is yes.

We have seen firsthand on our back end how games like Hentai Heroes and other titles experienced a 20-percent increase in daily active users within the last two months, while April sales hit an all-time high with an overall 35-percent increase. This may be due in part to feature enhancements and live ops being rolled out, but it’s hard to deny that the shelter-at-home orders definitely had an impact on the overall market.

Nutaku’s recent announcement about its 50-million-players milestone confirms this trend. This whole situation also underscores that adult gaming is not just a fad; it is here to stay and has become one of the major verticals inside the industry.

What’s interesting about adult games is that they provide a totally new form of entertainment for users. Not only are users looking for a quick dopamine fix by watching sexy content, they also crave an interactive experience. Through the completion of daily missions, collecting the hottest new characters and managing their digital harem, players can enjoy the affection of virtual girlfriends. This is especially gratifying when they are isolated during quarantine or just generally bored at home after so much social distancing.

All in all, adult gaming can serve as a unique bridge between the human desire for pleasure and a gamer’s lust for challenging entertainment.

It’s worth pointing out that the mainstream gaming industry is now the biggest and most profitable form of entertainment, with a value of $150 billion in 2019. Furthermore, experts forecast the market will grow up to $200 billion by 2022. That makes it way bigger than other heavyweights such as TV, cinema and music.

As for the adult segment of the market, we’re still far away from attaining those kinds of crazy high numbers. However, it is interesting to look back at how fast this sector has evolved over a span of just five years. What started as a small niche in the shadows rapidly grew to become one of the hottest booming verticals of the industry.

Ever since adult gaming originated in Japan several decades ago, the market has grown to billions of dollars and is now essentially dominated by DMM.com, a massive electronic commerce conglomerate founded in 1999.

As for the U.S. and EU adult gaming markets, they didn’t truly take off until 2014. Before that time, the games were mostly played in mini flash formats on curated niche websites. And while there were already some early developers such as ThriXXX, which was one of the first companies to produce 3D adult games on a professional level in the early 2000s, it still remained more of a subculture interest for certain consumers.

The real “game changer” — sorry — was the launch of Nutaku in 2015. The company basically created the biggest market uptick by being the first western publishing platform to support truly high-quality adult games. By adapting the same concept that allowed Steam to be the number-one place for online gaming in mainstream, Nutaku has driven supply and demand to newfound heights. Now, indie adult game developers have a proper marketplace in which to monetize their products. This, in turn, allowed game studios to produce even more compelling titles, taking this once-strictly-niche segment to a wider audience.

As of now, adult gaming is mostly populated with 2D games. Cartoon and hentai genres are by far the most appealing style for players, based on sales metrics. However, with improvements in 3D technology and smartphones increasingly capable of handling higher-end gaming, we are seeing more and more ambitious projects heading in that direction. Needless to say, virtual reality and augmented reality are poised to revolutionize the market, with a continually rising active player base.

Users will also play more and more adult games on their PC and tablets, though mobile remains the largest engine of growth in our vertical.

While the spectacular traffic spike that recently occurred due to the pandemic situation will most likely not be sustainable for very long, especially once all the quarantine restrictions have loosened up, the future still looks bright for adult gaming. We may not necessarily experience a continual 20-percent growth every month, but the long-term impact will definitely have cemented adult gaming as a top entertainment source of pleasure for the consumers.

From this point onward, we can expect the market to continue growing at a rapid pace with even more engaged players and further milestones when it comes to digital sales.

Onizuka is head of business development at Gaming Adult, an award-winning company that specializes in producing and distributing quality adult online games. He can be reached at oni@gamingadult.com and you can follow the latest company news @GamingAdult on Twitter and Facebook.

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