The world of gaming is big business, and it’s only getting bigger. Here are the emerging trends in the gaming industry that I think will change the face of gaming over the next few years.
Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system developed by Roblox Corporation that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. And its popularity is surging, with 70.2 million daily active users and 3 million developers on the platform. This indicates a growing interest in indie gaming.
Unlike the past, indie game producers now have access to platforms like Roblox to develop their games, and platforms like Steam to distribute their creations easily. This has facilitated the success of indie games such as Among Us and Stardew Valley, turning them into bestsellers. Roblox stands out as a key player in scaling up the indie gaming trend.
With the increase in indie game developers comes an increase in diversification among both players and game characters. While the majority of gamers are male, there has been a notable effort to diversify the gaming community. Games like Animal Crossing went a long way towards attracting more women to console, PC and esports gaming, helping to reduce the gender disparity.
Despite the gaming industry still being heavily male-dominated, there is a growing acknowledgment of the need for diversity, with developers making conscious efforts to feature women and minorities more prominently in the virtual worlds they create.
In contrast to the rising popularity of indie games, the gaming industry, in much the same way as Hollywood, is also experiencing a resurgence of remakes and reboots. Best selling games of 2020, like the Crash Bandicoot reboot and the Final Fantasy VII remake, underscored the market’s appetite for refreshed classics.
Developers, recognising the appeal and reduced risk associated with familiar titles, are actively remastering and re-releasing beloved games, such as Command & Conquer and Xenoblade Chronicles.
Hardware and Software
The introduction of next-gen consoles, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, in 2020 marks a pivotal moment in the gaming industry. These consoles, along with the Nintendo Switch, are poised to determine major industry trends in the coming years. Unique features, such as the PS5’s high-end SSD reducing load times and Xbox Series X’s “Smart Delivery” feature, add new dimensions to the ongoing competition between these giants.
Moving from hardware to software, we can’t ignore the rise in cloud gaming. Purchasing games online has its challenges, from lengthy downloads to hardware constraints. Cloud gaming, an emerging trend, improves this process by allowing real-time streaming, eliminating the need for downloads. Not only does this benefit gamers by providing instant access to titles, but it also creates recurring revenue streams for streaming services like PS Now, offering a solution for publishers to monetise older games long after their initial release.
To make the most of this feature, however, gamers need to have relatively fast and reliable internet. NBN 100 is a good option to keep gameplay smooth and prevent buffering during the streaming process. This is also fast enough to speed up the download of games that don’t offer cloud streaming.
Platforms and Releases
The PC gaming industry, valued at USD$29.16 billion in 2022, has long been dominated by Steam, accounting for 50-70% of all PC game downloads globally. However, new players like GOG and Epic Games are challenging this status quo. GOG initially focused on older games, providing a unique selection and distinguishing itself by offering all games “DRM-free”, meaning you can download and play the games you purchase without any restrictions. Epic Games, with its exclusive titles like Fortnite and strategic partnerships, aims to reshape the landscape, potentially impacting Steam’s long standing dominance.
A related trend is the increase in early access releases, which has become a prevailing model in the gaming industry, now constituting approximately 15% of all games on Steam.
This approach benefits both gamers and developers, with players enjoying early access to games and developers leveraging player feedback to shape the game’s trajectory. Successful examples, such as Rimworld, which sold a few thousand copies as early access, highlight the positive outcomes of this collaborative development cycle. This trend is anticipated to grow significantly, shaping the future of game releases beyond 2024.
The gaming world is in constant motion, and these developments and trends will continue to evolve over the next few years. I look forward to seeing what changes next.