Research

AI and Mixed Reality Drive Educational Gaming into 'Boom Phase'

Global growth forecasts for game-based learning across game types from 2019 to 2024

Global growth forecasts for game-based learning across game types from 2019 to 2024. Source: "The 2019-2024 Global Game-based Learning Market" from Metaari.

Artificial intelligence and mixed reality have driven demand in learning games around the world, according to a new report by Metaari. A five-year forecast has predicted that educational gaming will reach $24 billion by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent and a quadrupling of revenues. Metaari is an analyst firm that tracks advanced learning technology.

In the report, the company defined game-based learning as a combination of "game play" — some type of competition against oneself or others — and a reward/penalty system for assessment to measure mastery of content. This is different from gamification, which uses game-like features such as badges and points "tacked onto traditional education content," noted analyst Sam Adkins.

The report stated the dramatic growth of the segment is being driven by a number of innovations, including augmented and virtual reality and AI, as well as new discoveries in psychometrics, neuroscience, child development, behavioral science, cognitive learning and educational psychology.

"The flood of technology and science advances are having a dramatic impact on the game-based learning industry," said Adkins, in a summary of the report. "Developers are releasing stunningly beautiful (and profitable) immersive learning experiences. There is a growing body of empirical clinical evidence on the effectiveness of these new educational games. The value propositions are compelling and empirical data on effectiveness gives developers a major competitive advantage over legacy learning technologies like elearning."

The education game market is also seeing a major ramp-up of the business aspects too, including:

  • "Historic levels" of private funding going into game-based learning companies globally — $2.25 billion in 2018 alone, compared to $1.7 billion for 2016 and 2017 combined;
  • "Large-scale" agreements for global distribution being signed between "serious" game developers and global distributors;
  • Acquisition of game-based learning firms by large companies;
  • A rapid pickup of game-based learning in corporate segments;
  • Availability of "inexpensive, easy-to-use rapid development tools," enabling developers to get their products to market quickly; and
  • Growth in online marketplaces for selling "premade digital 3D models, VR environments and pre-trained AI models."

Much of the investment is going into "specific types of educational games designed for particular demographics." For example, investors were especially drawn to developers creating "serious games for young children," STEM games for early grades and games designed for teaching young people to code.

In the higher education market, where growth was "a healthy 15.4 percent," business simulation games with role playing have become common for sales, finance, business and marketing programs.

The report is available to academic institutions for $299 through the Metaari website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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