The evolution of video games and cyberattacks
Getting a feel for the evolution of video games over time can give some insight into how current and future video game trends came to be, as well as the online threats associated with them.
- The 1970s: Computer Space became the first commercially sold video game in the U.S. The invention of personal computers and video game consoles allowed developers to create more complex video game ideas.
- The 1980s: Nintendo dominated with its introduction of video games such as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. and the release of its widely known hand-held gaming system called the Game Boy.
- The 1990s: Video gaming saw a surge in popularity with the invention of Sony’s PlayStation, an internet-enabled gaming console, and their release of games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II.
- The 2000s: Microsoft’s Xbox hit the market, selling millions of units and competing with the newly released Playstation 2.
- The 2010s: Mobile gaming and augmented reality took off because of video games like Angry Birds and Pokémon Go, grabbing the attention of millions of gamers across the globe.
- The 2020s: Video game streaming platforms, such as Twitch, rose in popularity as gamers around the globe found love for watching their favourite gamers play newly released computer games such as Assassins Creed Valhalla.
Internet connectivity in the early 2000s took gaming sessions to the next level. But with the new technology came new and unforeseen dangers as well. Cybercriminals seized opportunities to find zero-day exploits in gaming systems, getting access to gamers’ sensitive data.
Video game trends + the future of gaming and cybersecurity
Many video game trends are shaping the future of gaming, from increased diversity amongst players, to developers creating more reboots and remakes of already popular games. And some video game trends, like the ones below, could even impact your Cyber Safety.
With an estimated $244 USD million global market value in 2020, cloud-based gaming has streamlined the process of accessing new video games for online players. Gone are the days of worrying about securing a copy at your local video game store or not having enough storage space on your computer for gaming. No downloading is necessary with cloud-based gaming. And because the game isn’t saved directly on your device, you don’t have to worry about installing the right software or having sufficient memory.
- Cybersecurity risk: Cybercriminals commonly use DDOS cyberattacks to compromise cloud-based gaming systems.
- Cybersecurity fix: Download antivirus software to alert you of potential cyberthreats.
The mobile gaming community reached over 2.5 billion members worldwide in 2020, making it one of the leading platforms for gaming. The COVID-19 pandemic helped drive its surge in popularity and success, as more people turned to games on their mobile devices to stay entertained during their unexpected and prolonged time at home.
- Cybersecurity risk: Mobile gaming can create online privacy concerns if gamers reveal personal information on their accounts, putting their identity and data at risk.
- Cybersecurity fix: Always keep personal information private.
Video game streaming and eSports caught the attention of millions of gamers worldwide this past year, and are being valued at over $2 USD billion in 2021. Streaming platforms like Twitch and Caffeine give gamers the opportunity to watch the world’s best gamers do what they’re known for. And not only can you watch as if you’re playing with them, but you can also pick up the tricks they use to reach their victories.
- Cybersecurity risk: Hackers create fake video game streaming platforms and send phishing emails to steal gamers’ information, including payment details.
- Cybersecurity fix: Download antivirus software to alert you of potentially dangerous links and websites.
Next-generation gaming consoles
Video games would be nothing without the consoles you play them on. Developers know this, which is why they’re constantly developing system upgrades and improvements that will enhance your gaming experience. This was apparent with the release of the highly anticipated PS5, which sold 17.3 million units in 2021. The new internet-connected console featured a DualSense controller, 3D AudioTech, and enhanced SSD storage for fast load times.
- Cybersecurity risk: Despite new and advanced technologies, all gaming consoles are susceptible to different types of malware attacks.
- Cybersecurity fix: Keep your device’s software and security systems up to date.
Augmented reality in gaming
Augmented reality (AR) makes your environment a part of your video game. Instead of playing a game of chess on your smartphone, an app may be able to display a seemingly real chess board on your coffee table. This removes the heads-down nature of gaming and gets you interacting with your surroundings.
- Cybersecurity risk: There are a lot of privacy concerns when it comes to augmented reality, because this technology leverages your personal information to track what the user is doing at a given moment.
- Cybersecurity fix: Always keep personal information private.
Virtual reality in gaming
Virtual reality (VR) in gaming takes AR a step further by immersing you in an entirely new environment. With a VR headset and gloves, in addition to hand- and eye-tracking technology, you’re able to interact and influence different elements in your video game as if you were physically in that world.
- Cybersecurity risk: The biometric data stored on gaming devices with virtual reality capabilities can make them prime targets for hackers.
- Cybersecurity fix: Practice password hygiene to make hacking into your gaming accounts more difficult.
The metaverse has been a major topic of discussion latterly and heralds a virtual 3-D world with social interaction between gamers. There’s always an advantage to being ahead of the game when it comes to new trends, which is why you can expect to see more companies finding new ways to merge gaming and the metaverse. These could include new player hangout opportunities or entirely new types of video games.
- Cybersecurity risk: Metaverse gaming, like VR and AR, requires a lot of personal information to create a new world, making it a potential target for personal data theft.
- Cybersecurity fix: Never share private information with other gamers over the internet.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) related to gaming generated over $4.5 USD million in revenue in 2021. This is because blockchain technology allows players to turn the collectible items typically purchased within games, such as avatars, weapons, and other tools, into NFTs. Because they now own these items outright, they can decide to keep their digital asset or sell it to another gamer to make a profit.
- Cybersecurity risk: NFT scams are on the rise as more people educate themselves on NFTs and blockchain technology.
- Cybersecurity fix: Watch out for common NFT scams, such as fake NFT websites, offers, and airdrop scams.
Video game statistics
Take a look at these video game statistics to see why the gaming industry — and video game security — has caught the spotlight.
Video gaming demographics
If you’re looking for insight into who plays video games and where they play them, you’ve come to the right place.
- There are almost 3 million video game players worldwide. (New Zoo, 2021)
- The average age of US video game players is 31 years old. (The ESA, 2021)
- The number of gamers worldwide increased by 5% in 2021. (New Zoo, 2021)
- Asia-Pacific is the region that contributes the most to the gaming industry, spending $88.2 billion in 2021. (New Zoo, 2021)
- 1 in 5 gamers describe themselves as hardcore gamers. (Norton, 2021)
- 50% of gamers around the world play games casually. (Norton, 2021)
- 45% of online gamers identify as female. (Norton, 2021)
- 55% of online gamers identify as male. (Norton, 2021)
- 50% of gamers say they’d rather play video games than go on vacation. (Norton, 2021)
- Gamers would prefer to continue playing their video game rather than going to a date, concert, sporting event, or birthday party. (Norton, 2021)
- 16% of Gen Z play video games. (Norton, 2021)
- 40% of millennials play video games. (Norton, 2021)
Video games and the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on how often gamers play video games, and the kinds of video games that keep them entertained.
- 38% of gamers reported picking up gaming during the pandemic. (Norton, 2021)
- 2 in 5 gamers say their gameplay time increased during the pandemic. (Norton, 2021)
- Nearly all gamers who noticed their game time increasing during the pandemic felt both positive and negative effects. (Norton, 2021)
- 40% of the world’s gamers reported feeling negative side effects from increased game time during the pandemic. (Norton, 2021)
- 50% of people in the U.S stated feeling less anxious and stressed because of them spending more time gaming during COVID-19. (Norton, 2021)
Gamers and cyberattacks
Gamers around the world have experienced the potential dangers of gaming attacks carried out on their video game systems and networks.
- There were more than 240 million gaming attacks in 2020. (Akamai, 2021)
- 44% of gamers don’t give much thought to the security of their gaming. (Norton, 2021)
- Cyberattacks targeting gamer login credentials made up 52% of attacks reported. (Akamai, 2021)
- Ransom DDOS attacks increased by 175% QoQ in 2021. (Cloudflare, 2021)
- 42% of gamers don’t think twice about sharing personal information when signing up for gaming accounts. (Norton, 2021)
- 46% of people don’t think their gaming accounts will ever get hacked. (Norton, 2021)
- Video game attacks increased 340% in 2020. (Akamai, 2021)
- 62% of people believe they would never fall for a gaming scam. (Norton, 2021)
- 46% of gamers experienced an attack on their gaming device in 2021. (Norton, 2021)
- Nearly 50% of gamers would rather spend money on gaming hardware upgrades than antivirus and security software. (Norton, 2021)
- 20% of gamers have detected malicious software (spyware, ransomware, viruses, etc.). (Norton, 2021)
- Almost 20% of gamers detected unauthorized access to one of their online gaming accounts. (Norton, 2021)
- 72% of gamers reported financial loss after an attack on their gaming account or device. (Norton, 2021)
- Over 50% of gamers in the U.S. use the same username for more than one gaming account or device. (Norton, 2021)
- Nearly 50% of gamers in the U.S. use the same password for more than one gaming account or device. (Norton, 2021)
5 video game security tips
Here are some video game security tips you can use to boost your cybersecurity while you play online.
- Practice password hygiene
Hackers frequently use credential stuffing and password spraying cyberattacks to access the information stored on your online gaming accounts. To avoid having your password hacked, always use complex passwords and make a routine of changing them every four or five months. A Password Manager could help by storing and generating unique passwords for different accounts.
- Keep personal identifiable information private
Gamers should think twice about sharing personal information on gaming sites. This is a major mistake. Video game hackers may use this information to break into your personal banking or financial accounts and/or create fake identities.
- Beware of phishing emails
Cyberthieves may use the popularity of video game streaming services to send phishing emails to vulnerable gamers looking for new games to play online. Never click on suspicious links or messages sent via email from video game streaming companies.
- Avoid NFT scams
Blockchain technology took gaming to new heights with the ability to purchase and/or trade NFTs for profit. However, more and more NFT scams are popping up as people begin to take advantage of this new tech. Be sure to watch out for NFT scams such as counterfeit NFT projects, fake offers, and bidding scams while engaging with your gaming communities.
- Download antivirus software
If a hacker does manage to hack your gaming console or devices, having trusted antivirus software could be an excellent extra layer of protection. The protection you receive can notify you if the software comes across a system breach or malicious link.
Understanding the video game trends shaping gaming can also come with some added benefits. Yes, you can learn how to stay ahead of your opponents, but you can also see how you can keep your devices safer while you play.
Use these video game trends and cybersecurity tips to protect your data and identity from cybercriminals trying to knock you off your game. Game on!