When it comes to gaming, developers and gamers are eager to share their opinions on what the trends of the year should be and how they are able to influence the course of gaming in general. Now we are well into 2018, and most major gaming conferences of the year have passed, we can have a fully fleshed look at the gaming trends that made up 2018 – and how these trends might help influence gaming in years to come. From a push for AR to alternative ways of payment to the huge success of Fortnite and the return to some classics, 2018 has been a huge year for gaming.
Every single list of possible trends for the past five years has included some form of VR and AR. The launch of Oculus Rift from 2013 to 2016 made it seem that virtual reality gameplay was just a step away. But the slow uptake and expense surrounding the hardware, not to mention the fact that games developers understood that making fully VR games was such a risk there was no point in doing it meant that the VR craze never really took off. AR, on the other hand, did. Pokemon Go – and the upcoming Harry Potter and Animal Crossing variations of the theme – showed that by superimposing graphics over the user’s environment, more people could access it, and actually enjoy playing it, with little expense or risk to developers. ARZombie and ARDragon are two such AR games that look set to burst onto the app market and revolutionize how we see reality. AR Zombie allows you to defend your actual house against make-believe zombies and the latter lets you keep a dragon as a pet. By merging the real world with another reality, users can be persuaded to do other things such as exercise as part of a game, as Zombies, Run! shows. The game is a running aid, which implements ‘zombie attacks’ at various points on the run, which force you to speed up your pace.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Another huge step in the world of gaming has been alternative forms of payment through the uptake of blockchain cryptocurrency. Huge interest has spiked in bitcoin especially in the past 12 months, which means that games developers are quick to utilize the benefits and features of the cryptocurrency in order to make life simpler for both sides. Cryptocurrency isn’t regulated by a financial middleman, which means its safer and more secure to send directly between two users. Offering payment for online gaming in cryptocurrency bypasses unnecessary and potentially risky security clearances while being paid back in bitcoin bypasses potential issues with currency exchanges. Many online gaming platforms offer financial incentives to play, such as no-deposits necessary and free cash for playing, which will be all the more accessible through cryptocurrency or engaging with bitcoin as a payment method. Blockchain also offers a completely unique strand for each user, which makes tracking payments and the exchange of money easier. Through CryptoKitties, which offer digital pet cats made from completely individual strands of the blockchain, the true nature of how the technology works can be seen and understood as to how it can be gamified.
There is nothing new about battle royale style multiplayer gaming, but Fortnite has really smashed its way into the arena and made the format its own. Over 125 million active gamers played Fornite by midway through 2018 and the momentum looks to be continuing. The game is released in seasons that differ in terms of gameplay, characters, and themes, which means that the overarching game is re-released many times. This allows current players to be reinvigorated and allows new players to have their chance to get involved. Minecraft’s multiplayer mode and various other sandbox multiplayer, such as Call of Duty, helped pave the way for the huge popularity that battle royales have seen. The games are easy to make for developers and are easy to engage with for fans. Various other franchises and brands are looking at ways in which they can add a battle royale element to their own games in order to be involved with some of the intense buzz around Fortnite.
Source: @g_r_v_w via Twitter
Remastering the Classics
Another gaming trend that has blown up in recent years and looks to help define what gaming is in 2018 is the rise of remastering the old classics. The nostalgia factor is a huge pull for gamers, and by remastering the graphics of games that attracted huge fanbases in the past, yet retaining the gameplay, fans are appeased. Crash Bandicoot and Spyro are prime examples. The success of the PlayStation 1 classics of the Crash series being repackaged as the Crash N Sane Trilogy led to Spyro being greenlit and fans clamoring to demand other classics such as Croc and Rayman to receive the same treatment. The games also make themselves accessible to new gamers who are used to the modern graphics that weren’t around in the original run. By relaunching games that have existing fanbases and no barriers to entry for new players, developers are confident that the game will be a success and ensure that the costs involved in creating it are recouped. The success of this one time will likely lead to a huge boom in redeveloping existing franchises which have missed the latest generation of gamers. Developers are clever with how they remaster the games, as they wait until enough fans are demanding for a game. This allows them to know that a certain amount will be bought, which mitigates the risk and opens up the investment to develop the game.
Mobile Gaming Holds Strong
Between 2016 and 2019, mobile internet usage is expected to grow from 155 minutes daily to 190 minutes daily, which is a 22.5 percent increase. With the mobile gaming industry valued at $50 billion and set to rise to $72 billion by 2020, there is no stopping mobile gaming. To put it in real terms, mobile gaming revenue has surpassed worldwide tea sales, music sales, McDonald’s revenue, worldwide box office revenue and is almost as high as the GDP of the entire country of Costa Rica. This kind of growth is music to developers’ ears as they can take bigger chances that can lead to stronger results. By tapping into other forms of gaming – such as AR – and using other forms of payment, such as cryptocurrency, the mobile gaming industry can take the best practices and the latest trends across the board and combine them for the true mobile revolution. Mobile gaming holds strong in part due to our lifestyles. We are spending more time on our smartphones and more time waiting around, commuting, and needing a quick fix for downtime. Mobile gaming does embark on longer form gaming, but a lot of it fills the gaps throughout the day that give us such powerful addictive gameplay. For the first time, mobile gaming in itself is a viable alternative to other platforms, which in turn forces other handheld gaming platforms to up their game. The healthy competition that this creates allows the industry as a whole to grow and develop exponentially.
Gaming trends are often difficult to predict until after they have established themselves. No matter how much forward planning goes into it, it can be difficult to anticipate whether fans will appreciate the latest craze or whether it will fail to launch. So compiling the latest gaming trends of the year nearer to the year’s end allows the trends to inform the next year of gaming developments. Whatever works well in 2018 will likely be replicated and added to in years to come and hindsight will show when each individual gaming revolution started and what led to the development of each new step in the history of gaming.