Why did Microsoft spend $75 Billion to acquire Activision, the makers of Warcraft, Starcraft, Call of Duty, and other best-selling games? It’s not just because they want to be big in the Metaverse. It’s something bigger.
Gaming is now the killer app.
Think about where you spend your time. When you read the news, aren’t you looking for a video story? The answer is yes, of course, because we’re so busy and stressed out, anything enjoyable is a welcome break. And this “Gamification” of our lives is taking place in business too.
I know Microsoft plans to introduce avatars, augmented reality, and all sorts of virtual experiences to Teams. And the gaming industry alone is now bigger than movies, as we all spend more time on our phones, PC’s and other devices.
But think about the things managers and HR professionals do all day. Onboarding? It should be a game. I remember when I worked at DigitalThink our most popular sales training program was an online video game where new salespeople had to collect money by answering questions, finding product features in the maze, and winning simulations against difficult customers. It was fun and educational at the same time.
In fact, if I think back about all the work I’ve done on corporate learning over the years, perhaps the biggest success factor in any training experience is “did you enjoy it?” I know that sounds a little silly, but when people enjoy their work they remember it, their mind opens up for learning, and they just become more welcoming and collaborative with others.
Game designers understand this: that’s how they get us hooked on these wonderful games. TikTok, NetFlix, YouTube, Wordle: they’re all growing fast because they’re fun. Not because they’re educational.
In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve observed about the internet in the last few years, the real “salesy” websites falling behind. Pinterest, which I thought was a gorgeously designed visual experience at first, turned into a massive pile of advertisements. And its traffic and business is now plummeting. If you aren’t “entertaining” your users, you’re probably not informing them, teaching them, or supporting them enough.
Microsoft understands this well. Xbox and Gaming revenue was $3.8 Billion in 2021 and we can expect that number to more than triple when the Activision deal goes through. That’s not only a lot of revenue, but it’s a lot of IP, a lot of game developers, and a lot of good ideas.
I spend many hours a day talking with smart, creative software developers who build new tools and platforms for HR. The ones I find most compelling of all are the ones that feel like “something I just want to play with.”
Here’s a simple example. Yesterday I spent an hour with the founders of Charthop, a pretty groundbreaking system that builds visual and time-based analytics for all the data you want to know about your people. The system is fast, dynamic, and you can browse up and down the hierarchy, backwards and forwards in time, and look at teams, groups, and cohorts in less than a second. (I’ll be writing more about it later.)
It reminded me of a video game. It was fun, easy to use, and immediately valuable.
Game developers know how to make this happen. Every game I play (I like Starcraft, Age of Empires, and Clash Royale) amazes me with its interactions, nudges, and animations. If Microsoft can leverage this expertise and bring a bit of this to Teams and Viva, we’re going to see pretty amazing things at work.
By the way, why do you think Crypto is taking off? It’s the world’s newest game. Yes, the stock market is a pretty big casino, but now you can bet on currencies, blockchain projects, and even the entrepreneurs who build NFTs and other cool objects. Gaming is a bigger part of your life than you ever knew.
While I’m not a fan of Facebook, I think Mark Zuckerberg may be a genius. By labeling all this stuff The Metaverse, he has given CEOs of every tech and entertainment company the excuse to invest, innovate, and pioneer this new market. The Metaverse (which includes Web 3.0) will be even bigger than you think.
One final idea for you to think about. There’s an old saying that “change happens slowly, then suddenly all at once.”
Well, the reason for this is that exponential change looks flat for a long time. And then all of a sudden you hit the knee in the curve and it grows almost straight up.
I’d suggest that’s where we are with gaming, online entertainment, and the Metaverse. This stuff has been growing for decades, and we haven’t paid much attention to it. Now, suddenly, gaming and entertainment have entered every part of our lives. Let’s all enjoy it.