- Smartphones will take over the role that dedicated handhelds once did
- Increased use of streaming in games
- Increased use of social media in video games
- Gamblification of video games
- Continued growth of eSports
- Games won’t all be about high-end graphics anymore
- Augmented reality isn’t going anywhere – yet at least
- Video games will be a bigger part of culture than ever before
- Video games will continue to drive technological innovation
- All good things must come to an end – but there will be some really good games before it all ends
What are everyone’s thoughts on the current video game trends? Are you more of an old-school gamer that likes to keep it simple, or are you in love with all the new bells and whistles of modern games. From augmented reality to motion controls, we’ll discuss how these trends have evolved over time and how they’re going to affect gaming as we know it.
This is a loaded question, because “trends” is a pretty nebulous concept. New genres get invented all the time, and people also play games in different ways than they did even five years ago. That said, there are definitely a few observations we can make with some degree of confidence.
Smartphones will take over the role that dedicated handhelds once did
Look at the likes of PUBG, Fortnite, or any of the other games that are all the rage on smartphones. The rise in popularity of those games, coupled with the ubiquity of smartphones, means that we’re going to see fewer dedicated handheld gaming systems over time. The Nintendo’s Game boy once ruled the handheld gaming market, but it was eventually overtaken by the PSP, and now the new trend is towards smartphones. The only dedicated handheld gaming system that we’re really left with is the Nintendo switch, and even that’s a hybrid.
We’ve already begun to see this trend with the explosive popularity of the Nintendo switch, which is basically a handheld device that’s also a console. Games like Fortnite that were originally designed for smartphones have now become multi-platform titles, and they even tie into Nintendo’s Switch ecosystem as well. All of these things are going to make casual games much more accessible to hardcore gamers in the future, which is something we’re not used to seeing… but I think it’s pretty awesome!
Increased use of streaming in games
Streaming services such as Twitch have enabled gamers to interact with their favorite streamer, or to watch others play games that they themselves might never have a chance to play. And it also helps game developers do some honest and direct marketing of their games to people who otherwise might not have ever heard of them. This trend will continue on through 2021 without a doubt. Twitch gamers are already making a living off streaming games, and it seems like a natural progression for many casual gamers to do the same. After all, you don’t even need to own the games–you just need access to a console or PC that does.
Increased use of social media in video games
Many popular video game franchises have their own social media presence (take Pokemon Go as a prime example). This is especially true of eSports franchises such as League of Legends or Overwatch. And it’s going to become more true over time as we move away from flat 2D representations and 3D models in video games, and towards VR and AR experiences that utilize social media such as Facebook and Twitter to augment the experience.
VR is already pretty good, but it’s still very far from perfect. For instance, people with glasses still can’t use it – or at least not in any sort of comfortable manner – because the screens aren’t close enough to your eyes.
Gamblification of video games
The “pay to win” model has been around for a long time. However, it is now going to become increasingly common (think Overwatch or League of Legends) as developers attempt to fill their games with content and mechanisms that will generate revenue. And while this is something that many people won’t like, it’s still going to be the exception rather than the rule. Mobile game developers are now implementing this model that requires you to pay in order to unlock new features, skins, and items.
Continued growth of eSports
The market for eSports is already massive, and it’s only going to become more so over time. In fact, there’s even some talk about how a lot of people don’t really care about video games any more–they care about eSports . That said, I’m not necessarily convinced that folks who don’t care about fun games will ever have as much potential as those who do care . That said, the main difference between eSport fans and fanboys (who just pretend to care) is that the former actually have disposable income they’re willing to spend on games – whether they’re first-person shooters or free-to-play mobile titles.
Games won’t all be about high-end graphics anymore
This is less of a trend and more of a fact, but the power that dedicated consoles offer will be more and more exorbitant as time goes on. Games will continue to push graphical fidelity, but casual gamers who can only afford a smartphone or tablet will have fewer options if they want to play them. Indie games are going to become an important part of the gaming landscape, especially since many of them hearken back to the older days of gaming when it was all about fun and not so much about graphics.
And in a lot of ways that’s still true today. The modern indie games (especially those that are crowdfunded) are almost always more exciting and innovative than AAA games produced by major publishers. Look at sites like these where you can play free slots and you’ll realise that it’s not always about the graphics.
Augmented reality isn’t going anywhere – yet at least
This one might just be wishful thinking on my part, but I’m fairly certain that new games will come out with built-in augmented reality functionality in the future. That way, people with smartphones won’t need to buy any new hardware to get in on the fun.
Video games will be a bigger part of culture than ever before
The generation that’s old enough to play video games today thinks they’re kind of silly, but it’s important to remember how new they were even just 10 years ago. I would go so far as to say that culture is more accepting of video games now than it was 10 years ago, but we’re far from mainstream.
That hasn’t stopped the industry from becoming a worldwide phenomenon though. Gaming conferences are now bigger than most shows that happen on television, game titles are more popular than movies based on sheer production values alone, and gaming has become a part of popular culture that can’t be ignored.
Video games will continue to drive technological innovation
We should never forget the impact that video games have had on the technology that we all use in our daily lives, and we shouldn’t forget how they will continue to spur innovation across a wide range of fields in the future. Voice recognition, gesture control, HD graphics , cross-platform multiplayer, and more are all the result of gaming’s impact on the world in ways that we can’t always see.
All good things must come to an end – but there will be some really good games before it all ends
I’m not saying this is going to happen, but there are several games that have reached their peak due to personal preference: Knack, Journey, Super Mario 3D World and The Last of Us to name a few. These games have reached what I would call the “mythic” phase of video gaming–something that is extraordinary for many reasons, but not something that will be replicated in any way.