Gaming is here to stay. The presence of video games over the past few years, and especially so during the pandemic has been undeniable. To name a few: Hades, Red Dead Redemption, God of War, Persona, Yakuza. The list goes on, and it hasn’t even considered behemoths like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Warzone. Mobile gaming has taken off as an industry, and the sky is the limit.
What is the next step? Are VR and AR finally going to breach into the mainstream? Evolving worlds, growing narratives; We are pushing the frontier of video games, and it is incredibly exciting.
Pushing the Envelope – Art and Immersion
We have seen games take a massive leap over the past few decades. Long gone are one-note stories and paint-by-numbers narratives. Creating a cohesive single-player experience is now a gargantuan undertaking, with a story and adventure (see also our review of Stray) that challenges the player and makes them feel emotions and thoughts that once could only be felt in the movie theatre.
Games have risen to the challenge, taking inspiration from film to create experiences that are nigh impossible to recreate without the time and first-person perspective that games can deliver. Ghost of Tsushima took inspiration from Kurosawa films, bringing players into the eyes of a Samurai protecting Tsushima island from a Mongol Invasion. Sucker Punch so faithfully recreated the island that their creative leads were named ambassadors in March 2021.
Ghost of Tsushima is a fantastic example of how games are pushing the envelopes. These titles will be the reason why games will break into the mainstream. Art and immersion are going to reach new heights in the next few years. The new processing power of consoles and computers are going to allow for an unparalleled level of graphics, size, and scale. Soon, nearly all titles will either promise incredible realism, or beautiful style. It’s going to be a sight for sore eyes.
It may be worth taking a look at the Phenomenon of Dead and Dying Games
Brave New World – Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality games have always hovered on the edge of mainstream gaming for a variety of reasons, ranging from the expense of a headset to the lack of true “killer” games. Like “Halo” was for the original XBOX, many people found Half-Life: Alyx to be the one to bring VR into the spotlight. A spin-off of one of the most famous series’ ever, what made Alyx stand out so much was its mastery of the technology available to Virtual Reality.
Movement and fine controls were better than any other title before, with critics and audiences alike praising Alyx for its innovation. Fine controls were good enough that a teacher taught math online using the game. Alyx is VR’s “Killer” app, and it heralds the continued improvement of VR.
As technology further advances, VR and AR should both become cheaper and more integrated into the mainstream. VR has already received a few AAA titles. As time goes on, VR should get more accessories and become more accessible.
For Augmented Reality, next-gen consoles and computers may scan your room, allowing developers to integrate more cinematic experiences and interactions. Setting up markers around your room may also allow your computer or console to generate maps and simulations that can enhance your gaming experience.
Imagine playing Battlefield and using a virtual map on your desk to plan your attack. Playing Destiny and watching a character blast through your screen into the wall behind you. These are all simple additions that don’t even consider fully integrated AR games. The past few years have seen success with Augmented Reality with games like Pokemon Go completely taking over the world for weeks, and the future is nothing if not bright for VR and AR.
Infinity – Evolving Words and Games
For a few developers, games are no longer one-and-done situations. Some of them envision a title that will last as long as there are players, constantly updating and adding content for their players. Within the game, the world will continue to evolve, change, and challenge everyone in it. Studios will no longer release a title a year, but instead, have a single game that continues to be iterated and improved.
We have already seen this trend previously with games like World of Warcraft, Destiny, The Division, and more. I foresee that more games will have longer development times and lifespans. This change is mostly because studios have seen the massive profit that can result from games sold as a service. Without the strong upfront cost that comes from developing a game from the ground up, bite-sized content and additions like cosmetic improvements or multiplayer integration can be made to keep gamers entertained for years on end.
Destiny 2 was originally supposed to be the 2nd of multiple titles, but Bungie was quick to see the value of retaining customers, changing to a free to play model that had a host of downloadable content and season passes. Fortnite was a game released in 2017 and continues to iterate on existing content rather than release a new title. Even Call of Duty has seen the value of continued support, continuing to support their monstrous Battle Royale, Warzone.
It is almost a win-win situation. Gamers don’t have to spend money upfront on multiple games every year, but instead commit to specific games that continue to engage their interest, putting money as long as it continues to be engaging to them. Granted, the situation is more complicated than this, but that is a discussion for another time.
Top of The Food Chain
Video Games are now by and large the biggest entertainment industry, grossing magnitudes more than the Box Office or Music industry could. Mobile Gaming and the COVID-19 pandemic have brought new gamers by the millions, and that influx has brought a lot more money into the industry.
No longer is gaming considered a “niche” hobby. Gaming is now very much in the mainstream, a huge industry that has so much room for more. More games, more innovation, and more fun. We are living in a new golden age for the video games industry, and the benefits are just starting. What do you think is the next big “thing” in the games industry? Let us know in the comments below!
Hey there traveler! I’m William, and I play a lot of Video Games. Feel free to bounce any ideas or just discuss any game under the sun with me. If you’re good at Valorant please carry me as well.