For the past two decades, gaming has been driven by a box containing various microchips, wires, nuts and bolts: the games consoles and PCs that have dominated from the mid-1990s to this day.
But the general consensus in the industry is that, soon enough, the need for a physical product, i.e. a console or a gaming tower, will be a thing of the past as cloud-based solutions take the future of games into a bold new world.
The evolution from 2D to 3D gaming was a monumental shift as well… consider how the minds that were blown two decades ago by three-dimensions will feel when they see the 4D games of the future.
In short, with technology improving and evolving at an incredible rate, the world of gaming will look a lot different in 20 years from now, as it does when today we reflect on loading up Golden Axe on the Sega MegaDrive two decades ago.
And while making such predictions is a risky business – we were all meant to be travelling on hover boards by now, according to Back to the Future – here are some common themes that most pundits expect gamers to enjoy in the years ahead.
The End of the Console?
Sony and Microsoft are slaving away in the background on the next iteration of their famous consoles that will take gamers through the next few years at the very least. But does the future of gaming even need a console to power it? So many of us are comfortable streaming content, whether it’s computer games, film or TV, that the next generation of gaming will surely be stream-powered.
Google, who tend to know a thing or about new tech, have just launched their Stadia service. ‘The future of gaming is not a box… it’s a place,” reads the marketing blurb. The idea is simple: you can play your favorite games any time, any place by streaming them to your TV, PC, smartphone or tablet. With 1080p streams available in 4K, ensuring high-quality graphics and low latency, could cloud-based gaming be the future of the industry?
AR Set to Augment Your Experience
Most expected virtual reality to be the brave new frontier of gaming. But while the tech required to power remains so prohibitively costly, and while game developers still seem reluctant to give in fully to the VR hype, there is a vacancy for gaming technology to advance the traditional 3D format. And that, perhaps, could well be augmented reality (AR).
You may well have already enjoyed Pokemon GO, the early flag-bearer for AR that saw kids and adults alike roaming the streets trying to find the pesky Pikachu and co. Pokemon GO is actually the second highest-grossing mobile game of all time, thus indicating a real demand and appetite for augmented reality.
As with VR there will be teething problems (will we need to purchase glasses? How much will these cost?), but the immersive game world that AR can create is undoubtedly one of the most exciting innovations to look for in coming years. Think about how titles such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, FIFA and even GTA could be advanced by augmented reality. With headsets on, we could be immersed into the gaming environment, hunting down the bad guys or scoring a goal in the World Cup final.
And it’s not just traditional console games that could benefit. Think about online casino games: online platforms have already taken a step in this direction. In addition to the many variants of roulette games at Aspers.com, this provider also allows players to bet on where on the wheel the ball will fall in a live casino – which, incidentally, is another example of the popularity of streaming. The idea of heading to a virtual casino through a headset no longer feels so far off. And it’s almost crazy to think of thousands of, say, Fortnite players all roaming the game environment and connected by AR, but this could well be a possibility within the next decade.
Everyone’s a Games Developer
One interesting aside from the developments in new tech is that it is becoming easier and more cost-effective to code your own computer games. Let’s face it: we’re all critics, knowing what we love and don’t enjoy so much in the games we play. The availability of development software enables you to build your own games using a variety of cool mechanics and features, whether it’s an RPG, platform game or even an explosion-laden shoot ‘em up.
Decades ago, it would have been as crazy to think you could design and build your own computer game at home as it would to be playing in AR or without a console. But this is the brave new world that the industry is heading in… And we cannot wait!