A person in a VR headset illustrates how game-based learning is taking its place in the classroom.

8 things pushing the growth of game-based learning

A new analysis takes a look at the innovative technologies and marketplace developments supporting game-based learning and its place in K-12

Revenue for game-based learning and education is projected to reach more than $24 billion by 2024, according to a new market forecast.

Metaari’s 2019-2024 Global Game-based Learning Market study, released by Serious Play Conference, notes that growth in AI game-based learning also is expected to skyrocket, analysts say. The report notes that game-based learning is defined as a knowledge transfer method using “game play” involving some form of competition (against oneself or others) and a reward/penalty system that essentially functions as an assessment method to quantify mastery.

Related content: 4 essential game-based learning questions

Game-based learning, though, is quite different from gamification. In gamification, game-like features such as badges and points are tacked onto traditional education content. Gamified courses are not games, but legacy products with gaming artifacts.

Advances in game-based learning and AI

“AI is a relatively new type of learning game that has just come on the market in the last three years,” says Sam S. Adkins, CEO and chief researcher at Metaari. “…The global growth rate for AI-based learning games is a robust 34.6 percent. That suggests AI revenues will climb to just over $800 million by 2024. The growth rate in the U.S. for AI products is dramatically higher–a breathtaking 56.5 percent.”

The five-year compound annual growth rate for educational games is directly correlated to the ongoing innovations integrated into next-generation educational games, including advances in psychometrics, neuroscience, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and AI.

“Rapid advances in AI technology are profoundly impacting the global game-based learning market,” according to the report. “Extraordinary products are now flooding the market. AI has fundamentally altered the competitive landscape of the serious games industry.”

These AI innovations coincide with the innovative advances in AR, VR, and location-based mixed reality. The innovations are also rooted in advances in child development, psychometrics, neuroscience, behavioral science, cognitive learning, and educational psychology. New findings from these disciplines are now incorporated into cutting-edge learning games for children with special needs.

Advances in technology and science advances also are having a dramatic impact
on the game-based learning industry.

There are eight primary drivers, each one impacting the rest, that are impacting the global educational game market. These catalysts include:
1. AI alters the competitive landscape
2. Mixed reality learning games in high demand across the planet
3. Historic levels of private investment flowing to game-based learning companies across the planet
4. Large scale global distribution agreements between serious game developers and global distributors
5. Intense mergers and acquisitions activity as large companies acquire game-based learning firms validating the market
6. The booming global consumer demand for mobile serious games
7. The rapid uptake of game-based learning in the corporate segments across the globe
8. The availability of inexpensive easy-to-use rapid development tools and the proliferation of online marketplaces selling premade digital 3D models, VR environments, and pre-trained AI models

There are also secondary catalysts spurring game-based learning’s rapid growth, such as the global rollouts of very fast 5G networks and the impending implementation of the Internet of Things. There are also potential secondary
catalysts like blockchain that could impact the industry in the next five

Demand for game-based learning in K-12

Demand for game-based learning at the K-12 is being driven by data showing that games in preschool can accelerate the transfer of both developmental abilities and basic academic skills. Games also have been proven to be quite effective at teaching young children social and emotion skills.

The types of games used at the elementary and secondary levels are very different, the report notes. For example, STEM games are more common in middle school and high school programs.

Several recent trends could greatly accelerate the adoption (and the revenues) of serious games in the academic segments.

Perhaps the most significant catalyst is Microsoft’s entry in the serious games industry when it launched Minecraft: Education Edition in November 2016. In just one year, the company had over 2 million licensed users across the planet. Microsoft continues to add resource packs, making the platform more attractive to the academic segments. By June 2019, it had over 40 million teacher licenses across 115 countries.

There are other major trends impacting the uptake of game-based learning in the global PreK-12 market, as outlined in the report:

  • One of the most successful game-based Learning suppliers in the PreK-12 segments across the planet is Norway’s Kahoot!. In January 2019, the company reported that it had surpassed 90 million users. It claims the game is being played by more than half of all US-based PreK-12 students (45 million students). Kahoot! claims to be the fastest growing learning brand in the world with a 75 percent year-over-year growth rate.
  • In June 2018, Roblox launched its Roblox Education program, which is a game-based learning platform. The bundle is free for educational institutions and includes lesson plans. Roblox had over 90 million active users by June 2019. In June 2019, the company reported it had “reached more than 650,000 students worldwide through its education initiatives in 2018, and it expects to more than double that number in 2019.”
  • Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular games in the gaming industry. The Assassin’s Creed Origins game was released in late 2017 and sold over 1.5 million copies in the first week. In February 2018, Ubisoft launched the new (non-violent) Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt game that lets users explore the interactive 3D recreation of Ancient Egypt.
  • A major trend driving the adoption of VR-based games in the PreK12 segment is the availability of so-called VR classroom kits that include headsets, chargers, routers, carts and most importantly, packaged educational content. This has created a growing distribution channel for development companies that partner with the kit companies.

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Laura Ascione

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