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In another sign that gaming is poised for accelerated growth, Unity Technologies said that the number of games made with the Unity Game Engine grew 93% in 2021.

In its Unity Gaming Report 2022, the company said the it drew information from more than 230,000 developers who make and operate over 750,000 games based on Unity.

Ingrid Lestiyo, general manager of Unity Operate Solutions, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the report highlights how gaming has brought people together and provided a human connection in a time of distance and isolation.

Unity’s data also shows that far from a “pandemic spike” the changes in the games industry appear to be long-lived and sustainable, though some metrics indicated that the level of play has subsided to pre-pandemic levels.

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Still, for 2021, Unity found that the number of people playing games is at far higher levels than they were pre-COVID and the industry has continued to step up to feed the demand, Lestiyo said.

“In the face of high player demand and even greater player expectations during these unique times, we have seen creators step up and deliver incredibly inspiring, creative, and innovative ways for people to engage and connect through gaming,” said Lestiyo. “This passion and resilience from our developer community fuels our commitment to make it as simple and as easy as possible for them to bring their vision to life. It remains our mission to equip developers of all sizes with everything they need to build, scale, and manage their games successfully.”

Unity agrees with industry reports that gaming is on track to reach over $300 billion by 2027. In 2021, the number of games made with Unity increased by 93%, and the number of new creators increased by 31%. Furthermore, players are spending more on games than ever before. The pandemic spike raised gaming revenue by 30% for games operated with Unity, and that bump is expected to stay, Lestiyo said.

“The games industry is still going strong,” Lestiyo said. “The daily active users have come down from the peak of the pandemic, but they are still at a higher level than before, and indicating that some of these people that started playing games during the pandemic are still doing so. However, you know, usage has gone back to pre-pandemic levels, where we see a drop off during the weekdays and during the weekends.”

“Whether from growth in established studios or from hobbyists making the leap to game development as a full-
time gig, I am amazed at their sheer creativity as they bring their visions to life. We’re proud to be providing
tools that help creators everywhere make great games,” said Marc Whitten, general manager of Unity Create, in a statement.

Unity said the production slump of the pandemic’s early phase is now far behind us. Mirroring other industry reports highlighting continued growth in the gaming sector, in 2021, the number of Unity creators increased 31% compared to 2020. Additionally, 93% more games were made on the Unity platform in 2021 than in 2020.

The demand for games remains high — the total number of daily active users (DAU) playing games rose from before the pandemic, reached a peak, then settled at far higher levels than before COVID began. PC/Console DAU has increased by 62% since the start of 2019, and mobile DAU has increased by 74%.

The “pandemic spike” raised gaming revenue — and it’s here to stay. Gaming revenue grew by almost 30% for creators in 2021. Unlike sectors of the economy where pandemic bubbles have popped, the changes in gaming appear to be sustainable, bolstered by revenue growth in ad revenues and in-app purchase in the United States and Europe.

As game development becomes more ambitious, creators are increasingly turning to third-party solutions to stay competitive — Studios of all sizes are increasingly using a different mix of out-of-the-box solutions so they can free up resources to do what they do best: design great player experiences.

Among enterprise creators, over 91% use player engagement and segmentation services, 88% use in-app purchase services, and 76% use analytic, authentication, and privacy services. Smaller studios use similar solutions but also invest heavily in ad monetization and user acquisition support.

Unity will be highlighting the trends outlined in this report alongside an array of in-person and online sessions
at the 2022 Game Developers Conference from March 21 to March 25 in San Francisco.

One of the trends Lestiyo pointed out is that triple-A games are now spreading beyond PC and console platforms to mobile as well, and we’re seeing an explosion in live services games.

“More than 50% of all Americans are playing multiplayer games,” Lestiyo said. “And this is pretty exciting and a little glimpse into the future,” Lestiyo said. “We call it the metaverse because this was how people socialized virtually and multiplayer games are the kernels of what a metaverse could look like in the future.”

As for 2022, a lot more games are coming, Lestiyo said, and ad-based games are growing a lot as well. Hypercasual games are up 137% in terms of numbers of games.

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