Opera is All Business When it Comes to Gaming

September 1, 2021 at 9:00 AM EDT

Opera is All Business When it Comes to Gaming

At Opera, we’ve made two significant investments in the growth of online gaming: the Opera GX browser (available for both desktop and mobile), and our Game Maker Studio platform. What does this mean for Opera and our shareholders?

“Of all companies to release a web browser for gamers, Opera makes the most sense. Opera separates itself from rivals by offering...features that later become industry standards.” noted PC Mag when it first reviewed Opera GX, our browser built specifically for gamers.

That review was published in November of 2020. By March, over 8 million users chose our browser, designed specifically for them, and the way they game. Today, Opera GX has over 10 million monthly active users. 

Certainly, that kind of growth is remarkable in under two years, but what’s even more noteworthy is the gaming TAM itself: analysts believe that the global gaming market will generate over $175 billion in revenue in 2021, on its way to $200 billion in 2023. For a sense of scale, the gaming market is multiple times larger than the pre-pandemic global box office (which in 2019 was just over $42 billion, and had a CAGR of just over 3% from 2010). And, across the various gaming market segments, Mobile accounts for more than half the market (at over $90 billion for 2021) and is projected to enjoy the highest growth rate. Finally, and underscoring the size of the gaming market, recent research suggests that by the end of 2021, there will be 2.9 billion players worldwide.

What does going after the gaming opportunity really mean?

Given the size of the audience and market, it should not be a surprise that we are very excited about going after the gaming opportunity. But what exactly does that mean? Many people assume by default that to “enter the gaming market” means competing to produce hits (and the corresponding investments and timelines related to such production efforts). Overlooked, however, is the lifestyle side of gaming - the platforms and tools gamers want and need: from the apps they choose to interact with outside of the games they play to the peripherals that match their tastes.

Strategically, we would like to highlight two things to our investors: first, that we strongly believe that gaming will play an increasingly larger part in our digital lives in ways that are not yet fully appreciated. Second, that Opera has an advantage when it comes to commercializing the tech we develop while appreciating the experience aspect of this market: an approach to innovation and truly understanding what our users want, allowing us to be the company “offering features that later become industry standards.” 

Gaming will continue to grow in importance 

Core to our strategy is the belief that gaming will play a growing role in our online lives: gameplay encourages connectivity and collaboration, creating very real and very large communities over time. Gamers meet, interact, and enjoy common experiences with one another, they can share ideas and even effect transactions for products or services within the increasingly rich gaming environment within the games’ metaverses. 

And of course, the sheer volume of time spent gaming online means that it is increasingly important that the ways in which we access these digital spaces, and the things we can do in them, meet consumer expectations and needs. It was reported last year that - incredibly - a cumulative total of 3.8 billion days of Fortnite has been played (or, almost 10.5 million years). In fact, given the depth and complexity of many online gaming environments, and the innumerable ways people act and interact within them, it’s difficult not to conclude that the futuristic digital “metaverse” predicted by The Economist (among others) just a few months ago is actually here (in fact, anyone with kids who play Fortnite, or anyone who attended virtual concerts held by Travis Scott in the platform, knows this).

While we’re an internet technology company, Opera has historically been successful by innovating and optimizing our products for people: developing and delivering technology that makes our users’ online lives better, easier, and safer. Our response to the explosion in gaming’s popularity and potential is true to these roots: Opera GX offers a user experience that specifically caters to gamers’ needs, aesthetics, and that contributes to their community.

Opera GX has built-in limiters for CPU, RAM, and Network usage, as well as a free VPN to protect privacy. To help foster community and enable gamers to interact with the content they care about, GX boasts YouTube, Twitch, and Discord sidebar integrations (as well as integrations with all the popular messenger apps), and GX Corner, a curated destination for deals, news and a game-release calendar. We also just launched the world’s first mobile browser for gamers, with features including the latest gaming news, custom skins, unique navigation with haptic feedback, native ad blocker and more.

We are proud to be ahead of the pack. Certainly, as big as gaming is, we think it is notable no other company is positioned like Opera, and there is one other important investment we are making in gaming that we think investors should consider. 

We have big ambitions for our acquisition of YoYo Games, which closed in early 2021 – part of a roadmap focused on continuing to add more gaming features and functionality to Opera GX and building out the YoYo Games Gamemaker Studios 2D gaming platform. Among Us, last year’s break-out hit with almost 500mm players in November of 2020 is a 2D game. Roblox, a platform for user-created gaming, reported 199 million monthly active users in January of 2021. Just as technology and internet platforms have allowed people to not only consume entertainment, but to create and share it themselves, we believe gaming is poised to undergo a similar shift in what will be the next step for creator economy. 

Billions of consumers make and share pictures, movies, and music every day, on dozens of platforms. There is no reason that online gaming, with almost as many players, and gaming’s role as a medium of connection, community, and entertainment, will not also be broadly adopted as a medium of expression and sharing. 

Opera is providing the browsers that match gamers’ tastes and needs as well as tools necessary for people to build, share, and be compensated for, games of their own design. And, that’s different than more traditional ideas of games as competitive spaces with narrowly defined conditions to “win”. As we said earlier, we think the space with the most room for innovation in gaming is about the user experience, creation, participation, and connection. This initiative is in its early stages, but is a logical complement to our gaming strategy, and we believe one that has potential to grow in ways that the market is only beginning to appreciate.

All of which is to say, we’re confident that Opera is in a strong position when it comes to the future of gaming.