20 Years of Gaming

The concept of gaming was first introduced to the world as a technological oddity at science fair in the 1950s. Since then, gaming has grown into one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world.

On the following graph we can see the tendency for releasing games throughout the period from 1996 to 2016.

Why has the gaming development rate been dropping since 2008?

It is clear that up to 2008 publishers have been releasing games at a steadily increasing rate, but then it suddenly started decreasing. Let’s try to find out why. But before we get there we need to have a complete picture of the overall situation. On the graph below the average scores of games throughout the years are presented. It is noticeable that ratings were getting higher and higher up until 2001 where they finally settled at the point of 7.5. But in the period from 2006 to 2010 we can see a deep drop and if we match it with the previous graph, where during the very same period the number of releases rocketed up, we can draw a conclusion that after 2005 publishers started to put their focus on quantity of releases, instead of quality. But after 2010 publishers realised that they were not meeting their sales plan expectations, so they changed their focus back to quality, which is reflected on the graph.

Top 3 platforms

For now we had an overview of the plain data. On the next graph we can see the top 3 platforms by the number of games released for them for every year. We can witness that in 2008 iPhone platform suddenly makes its way to the top, as soon as the AppStore was introduced for iOS.


Most popular game genres measured in supply

Next, we looked into video game genres. The normalised heat map indicates  which type of games had the highest supply throughout the years. Each square represents the share of a certain genre per year out of all releases in this year, so the dark red means that 25% of all the games that were released in a certain year were of the certain genre, while, in contrast, blue means that the share was really low. As you can see, “Action” was actually the dominating genre at all times. It is interesting that at the dawn of video gaming “Sports” and “Racing” were in demand, but over time the number of releases in this genre decreased. In contrast, “Adventure” and “Shooter” genres started low, but in 2011 and 2002 respectively they started gaining popularity. “Strategy” and “RPG” shares has been somewhat constant.

But was it true for every platform?

Most popular genre for platform

Here we have a heat map that lists all platforms for which at least 50 games were released overall. For each such platform we calculated the most popular genre and displayed it in colour from blue to red, which reflects how many games were released in that genre for that platform. So the dark red reflects the supply of 600 games of a certain genre for certain platform overall, while deep blue stands for zero releases.

Again, for the most platforms “Action” was the dominating one, however PC stands out with its frequent “Strategy” genre. But what will happen if we swap the axes and find out what platform was more likely to have a certain genre released for it?



Most popular platform for genre

On this heat map colours represent the same statistics as on the previous graph. Here “Strategy” stands out once again. And the overall tendency is clear as well. Complex games are more likely to be released for PC, while genres like “Puzzle”, “Fighting”, “Sports” and other simple genres tend to be developed for consoles.

To conclude, let us examine the most popular genres in more detail. We wanted to see how their average score changed throughout the years.
Racing was keeping a constant average rating of 7 until sudden drop to 5.5 in 2008 and then was fluctuating above that point and peaked at 8.9 in 2015. That is a really big improvement. Other than that nothing surprising. In general, all these genres have a better average score in 2016 than in 1996 with some fluctuations in between, which tells us that through some experimenting developers finally found out how to make games better.


By looking at our data we found that there was a boom in the industry which led to a temporary increase in quantity of games, which went hand in hand with a drop of players’ satisfaction with these, with it’s peak in 2008. Except from PC all other platforms seem to have a limited timespan in which they are more popular, which also might be because PC is the preferred platform for a lot of genres. Moreover we analyzed which genre in general is the best to play for a certain platform. Taking a closer look at genres we could easily see that action games may be the most popular, but compared to other genres we saw that all of the most popular genres are very similar in rating score, following the same trends and having a slight increase over time.


Authors: Alisa Becker, Ilia Tugushi, Igor Fedotov
University Koblenz-Landau

Data source: www.ign.com

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