Upcoming Gaming Trends We’re Looking Forward To
With a new generation of consoles recently hitting the shelf, reality starting to come in a strange flavour known as XR and much, much more, there are tonnes of gaming innovations and trends we are looking forward to.
While it’s easy to look back nostalgically at the trends which have defined the past few years it is far more exciting to look forward and take a stab and what might be the next big thing. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that we’re hotly anticipating.
Games as Platforms
While we all have a pretty good idea of what to expect when picking up a game, 2020 showed us that there may be a whole load more on the horizon. Cross-over performances such as Lil Nas X’s performance in Roblox or Travis Scott’s performance in Fortnite suggest that the metaverse of gaming may soon be host to more musical performances, brand crossovers and events that don’t directly align with the intentions of any particular game.
Taking a look at the aforementioned performances: these are non-gaming events which simply take place within a gaming environment, allowing users (or even newcomers) to interact with their favourite art or brand within the game space.
Of course, if this does take off the amalgam of real-world brands and those within games may become confusing—but it’ll certainly be an interesting ride.
XR – Virtual and Augmented Reality
Pokémon Go was a touchstone for AR game design. It brought together devout fans of the series and newcomers to revel in a relatively experimental technology—and it paid off. Many companies have since expressed deep interests in furthering AR: most notably Microsoft with their recently announced meeting platform “Mesh” and Apple’s Tim Cook who hailed the concept as important as the leap to the smartphone.
Virtual reality has already embedded itself into gaming, big time. Half Life: Alyx alongside the steep dip in the price of consumer headsets has meant that more of us are playing VR than ever before laying the groundworks for a large-scale industry shift.
While we can muse all day over what this XR future will actually look like, what we can be sure of is that it is coming.
While striking visuals, improved hardware and one particular flashy looking controller—we’re looking at you DualSense—took up much of the marketing surrounding the new generation of games consoles, keen-eyed individuals will have noticed that both consoles include the capability for 3D sound.
3D sound has the chance to change the whole sonic experience of gaming, given that it provides a sonic experience which, essentially, allows you to pinpoint where sounds are coming from around you—in both direction and distance. If that’s hard to get your head around, just sit back for a second and listen. That plane flying overhead, that car in the street below, your mouse wheel scrolling away right next to you—you can place all these sounds in 3D space perfectly. Transfer this to a game world and you have the opportunity to wholly immerse yourself.
The immersive capabilities of 3D audio are especially important for VR, given that the whole premise of the medium is making you believe that you are in the virtual environment.
Return of Co-op
For those who grew started gaming in the 2000s, couch co-op was one of the pillars of gaming. Sadly, throughout the 2010s this was slowly replaced with online-only experiences which continued to ditch tightly knit co-op features in place of large-scale PvP action.
Thankfully, in recent years co-op has been making a comeback in both AAA and indie spheres. Games like It Takes Two and the Arkham-style brawler Gotham Knights which you can already scout a cheap cd key early, are entirely playable in co-op, meaning that it’s about time to call up your mates to strap in for a whole host of new, co-op experiences.
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With an increase in accessibility features, releases like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and important organizations such as AbleGamers and SpecialEffect garnering greater attention, we sincerely hope the 2020s are when gaming finally overcomes the manifold issues with accessibility.
Fortunately, we are already seeing great progress from many developers worldwide, however it is worth noting that Western developers currently seem to be slightly ahead of the curve at implementing an array of accessibility features into games.
An increase in accessibility is much needed given that gaming is a form enjoyed by almost a third of the world’s population—so it’s up to us all to make it available to all the rest.
Inclusivity & Diversity
While the archetypal gamer throughout the 2000s may have been a sweaty, spot-laden twenty-something sitting in a basement, it continues to become abundantly clear that gaming is not an activity isolated within any singular demographic.
For example, today the proportion of male and female gamers is quickly approaching 50/50 with the medium being enjoyed in pretty much every nation around the globe.
However, given that only 21% of people that work in the gaming industry are female we are still often only offered stories about white, male protagonists.
Fortunately, there is evidence that this is slowly shifting. With indie developers focusing on broadening the scope of video game narratives to AAA developers do the same. It’s even relieving to see how non-binary Cyberpunk 2077’s character creation options were in 2020.
Putting this all together, we’re excited to see wider representation and diversity spread throughout the gaming industry in the 2020s—both in the games themselves and the teams that produce them.
While buying physical or digital copies and waiting for them to install has been the norm since, well, we first brought personal computers into the home, Cloud Gaming is pushing to free gamers from the shackles of hardware or download speeds.
The general idea of cloud gaming is to stream games directly to your device of choice, while the actual computational part of the process is taking place elsewhere on a provider’s hardware.
Firstly, this would allow you to play even some of the most computationally challenging games on small devices. But more importantly it would let you play exactly when and where you want seeing as you don’t need to download anything.
The current stepping-stone in the process is data transfer. Currently you require a very strong and stable internet connection to play these games in optimal conditions, meaning that it’s not yet a solution that can be adopted by all.
However, given the plethora of technological innovations the 2020s will bring us, we sure can’t wait for when cloud gaming becomes accessible to most.
The 2020s are going to be a landmark decade for gaming—just as the five decades prior have all proven to be. And we certainly can’t wait to experience all the new hardware, software and innovation that comes out of it. While these have been our predictions, we’re sure that the decade will hold much, much more for gamers to enjoy.