Constant technological advancement brings new changes and challenges into so many niches, and game development is not an exception. Remember how the games looked and worked 10 or 20 years ago? If we compare them to recent gaming titles, the difference will be astonishing.
The quality of graphics jumped incredibly high. The gameplay changed a lot, offering more diversity in in-game interaction and even enabling different endings, based on the player’s behavior in the game. The virtual reality that once was just an imaginary feature in sci-fi movies became a real thing.
Knowing all that, it’s impossible not to think about what the future of game development would look like and what we should expect from this industry in the nearest future. In 2020, GlobalNewswire forecasted that the gaming industry will grow at a CAGR of 12% between 2020 and 2025. So what tools will it use to achieve such progress? And how will this affect the games as we know them? Let’s find this out together.
Game development trends that could shape the future
Some trends pass, while some stay with us for a long time and affect the way games are developed. The following four ones have been on the game development market for a while. So it’s safe to assume that they will continue to grow and develop in the following years.
eSports and online gaming
For years, people were eager to share their gaming experience with others, either spending time with their friends or even making new ones. eSports and online gaming in general became even more popular in the COVID-19 era. People had to isolate themselves in their homes and real-life sporting events have been canceled. So it was only natural that this industry grew: it compensated for both lack of socialization and the thrill of watching people compete with each other.
In addition to that, the professionalism of eSports continues to grow. It quickly evolves from being perceived as a niche sport to becoming viewed as a real-life one. The popularity of online gaming also increases steadily. According to Statista, this year’s revenue in the Online Games segment could reach $26.29 billion.
Once viewed as something futuristic and unlikely achievable in the nearest future, augmented and virtual realities have now become one of the top game development job trends. However, we can say they perform differently in terms of popularity and accessibility.
Despite VR being a truly unique and captivating experience, it still isn’t as widespread as it could be. One of the main reasons is the price and the design of VR headsets: they are massive, not very comfortable, and not always affordable. Another important reason is that the VR experience is somewhat isolating, both in terms of the physical world and gameplay. Some players don’t like that they switch off from the real world completely when wearing headsets. Some players, on the other hand, are upset that they cannot really share the joy of playing with their friends or family. Still, this doesn’t mean that VR as a trend will cease to exist — most likely, it will remain as a form of a niche experience.
Augmented reality, however, is different. The popularity of Pokemon Go showed just how much people enjoy the virtual additions to their otherwise familiar surroundings. Many fans of this game like that it encourages them to explore new places, not even mentioning going outside more often. And although other AR games are yet to achieve the same level of popularity as Pokemon go, we can safely assume that this trend is going to develop.
Streaming platforms are already a thing. These days we pay Netflix and HBOMax to enjoy TV shows and purchase a Spotify or Apple Music subscription if we want to listen to music. So could we assume that similar streaming platforms could become the future of game development?
Most likely, yes. As the world becomes more mobile, it’s only natural to create options that allow gamers to play without depending on their device. In some sense, it’s about the smart consumption mentality that encourages users to rent things (including digital content) instead of owning and storing them. It also discourages people from investing in expensive devices that are quickly replaced by more powerful and expensive ones).
Such an approach could also solve the hardware problem, which became especially noticeable and critical in the COVID-19 era. As laptops and computers are nowadays also used for crypto mining, the prices for them grow. And after the COVID-19 lockdowns delayed the production of certain hardware, such as PlayStation chips, the competition for powerful devices became even bigger.
Introducing cloud gaming could solve this problem and allow people to enjoy their favorite games regardless of the devices they own. Unfortunately, while this is definitely something to expect in the future, it could take years before such gaming becomes mainstream.
We used to think that the best games are built for more powerful and “serious” gadgets, such as PCs, laptops, and game consoles. However, as the world becomes more mobile, many players like to take their gaming experience with them wherever they go.
Games created exclusively for mobile devices are still a thing. But some PC game developers also tend to port their existing games to mobile as well, or, at least, design a multi-platform experience. One of the most well-known examples of that is Riot Games. In 2020, they released Wild Rift — a mobile adaptation of their famous League of Legends. Another is MiHoYo that designed Genshin Impact supported by all existing gaming platforms, including mobile.
Recent iPads Pro already are powerful enough to be used instead of a laptop. So we believe it’s only a matter of time before massive and widely appreciated game releases will get their mobile adaptations.
To sum up
So what is the future of game development? Paradoxically, games can become a new way to interact with nature. Imagine a VR walk through the forest where you can smell all the smells and taste the virtual berries. Technology will mix the virtual and the real and will give game dramaturgy new tools.