With the global video games market due to reach astrological heights of $115 billion by 2020, gaming developers are constantly looking to stay ahead of the curve and in keeping with technological trends in terms of the content they create. In order to stand out and attract players in what is becoming an increasingly crowded industry, studios have had to continue to strive towards innovation and accessibility over the past several years like they never have before in the history of the industry. Today, we’re looking at two important trends that will continue to inform video game developers, and ultimately shape the future landscape of the gaming industry.
Immersive Games Entering the Mainstream
If there has been a single hottest topic in the technology industry over the past 12 months, it’s undoubtedly been virtual and augmented reality. Major VR headsets including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR launched in 2016, and look to be the systems that will drive the virtual reality market to $12.1 billion by 2018. Accordingly, gaming software developers have been striving to make use of the technology to provide players with more immersive experiences than ever before.
A number of titles including Robinson: The Journey, Elite: Dangerous and Eve Valkyrie have gone some way to showcasing the power of virtual reality technology and offered players some mesmerizing moments, with many more VR titles in the pipeline throughout the course of this year and next. In the iGaming industry, it’s a similar story. While VR casinos haven’t quite entered the mainstream yet, the advancements in live streaming have allowed operators to closely emulate the experience of the thrills and spills of a land-based casino. Live casino brings Vegas to you like the William Hill Live roulette, which allows players to immerse themselves through HD-quality, multi-camera live streams of games being played in real time, while also being able to interact with bonafide human dealers through live chat.
Games as an Extension of Social Media
One consequence of the rise of always-on internet connectivity and smartphones, aside from the growth of mobile gaming, is the ubiquity of social media. Today, over 2.5 billion people worldwide use at least one form of social media, with more than three-quarters of the entire US population having at least one social networking profile. As a result, gaming developers – particularly mobile studios – have increasingly looked to find ways to make their titles more sociable.
Take Machine Zone’s Game of War: Fire Age, for instance. The mobile MMO strategy game features a heavy emphasis on social elements, allowing users to chat, form alliances and strategize with other players. Not only that, but players are also actively encouraged to connect their game to Facebook, following which they will receive additional in-game items and rewards for referring their friends. The title’s sociability was such that it has even been described as “a social network that enables gameplay, rather than a game with social elements”. This increased desire to be social is evident throughout both mobile and console gaming, with most titles now allowing users to share screenshots and videos and broadcast live gameplay on social media such as Twitch, Twitter and Facebook.
Of course, there are many other technological and social trends that will continue to shape the landscape of the gaming industry, but the two we’ve outlined today are unquestionably amongst the most important. If you have any thoughts about where the future of video games is headed, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.