The video game industry is currently bigger than the music and film industries combined. And it continues to grow. And while it doesn’t enjoy the same glitz and glamour as Hollywood, over 2 billion people across the globe play video games, roughly 20 percent of the world population. California enjoys a sizable stake in this mammoth sector. Considered the leading video game market in the US, it is a hub for gamers, developers, and investors alike. But it hasn’t always been. Here is a look at the evolution of gaming in California over the years and where the sector is today.
California was crucial in introducing the video gaming business to America. In the early 1970s, Sunnyvale experienced the launch of gaming firm Atari, which helped popularize arcade gaming. Arcade games started popping up in bars, theme parks, churches, barber shops, and pretty much every entertainment spot in California as both children and adults began to enjoy playing. Popular games of this period include Space Invaders and Pac-Man – games that helped establish the gaming culture in California.
Over the next decade, arcade games paved the way for gambling. Their features were very similar to slots and card games like Solitaire, which were soon digitized and presented in arcade form. The slots played in California at this time were the precursor to the versions you will find today in an online casino in California, albeit more modern and tech-heavy.
online casino California
Moving into the 80s and 90s, gaming in California made the jump from arcades to consoles. First-generation consoles from firms like Nintendo took over the gaming market, allowing gamers to access video games at or closer to home. This period saw the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) adaptations enter and dominate the gaming culture. More console companies were drawn to California because of its ready and budding market.
Game Developers and PC Gaming
As these firms made their way to California, so did major game developers. Silicon Valley soon became the tech capital of the world as more developers and visionaries moved in to meet the gaming needs of the Californian population. It was around this time that Electronic Arts (EA) established its headquarters in Redwood City and produced hits like The Sims and Madden NFL. EA was quickly followed by Valve Corporation and Blizzard Entertainment. During this time, the gaming market enjoyed releases like Half-Life and World of Warcraft.
Digitization and Mobile Gaming
By the turn of the century, technology was evolving again and the Californian gaming market adapted again. Game developers started adapting their titles for mobile devices and the state attracted major names like Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, which helped usher in the era of mobile gaming.
The Video Game Industry in California Today
The industry continued to grow at a steady pace from then on, enjoying a major boost during the pandemic movement restriction period. More people than ever, stuck at home with nothing to do, turned to online gaming. By 2020, the Californian video game industry was producing $51.8 billion a year in revenue – the highest in the country. A study from the same year also shows that the gaming industry in California provides 218,100 jobs – again, more than any other state.
The role California plays in the video gaming industry is too big to ignore. Popular games like Pokémon GO can trace their roots there. As technology evolves, developers and investors will continue to utilize the State’s ready market and technological resources to push the industry further. We fully expect California to lead the charge toward streaming, AI, VR, and other innovations in gaming going forward.