The growth of digital gaming has been phenomenal over the past few years, with new technologies appearing left, right and center. This was especially true of 2020 where we saw a 12% year over year increase in spending, reaching a total of $127 billion across mobile, PC and console.
We’ve seen simple games like Among Us go viral, old hardware making a comeback and the rise of multi player gaming that’s kept us sane throughout 2020. However, despite the usual growth, we’re some some surprising emerging trends that could indicate further transformation for digital gaming in the years to come.
Let’s take a look at some of the top trends in digital gaming currently.
Indie games are scaling up
While indie games are nothing new; there is always new gaming popping up from independent developers like Celeste, Hades and Valheim. The difference is that independent developers now have more means to promote their games.
Platforms like Steam are now empowering indie game producers to promote their games on a much larger scale. It’s how games like Among Us and Stardew Valley have become viral.
Additionally, Roblox has become a popular platform where developers can create and distribute their game in one streamlined software. Roblox now has over 150 million users and enables game developers to quickly create a game and get feedback for iterations.
Over the next few years, we can expect to see indie games begin to challenge some of the better known titles for the limelight.
Smarter online casino games
Not all digital games have to be video games. Before the age of digitalisation, many people enjoyed visiting arcades and casinos to play traditional games like poker, slots machines and roulette. However, the age of the internet has not only meant that these games can now be played online, they’ve been taken to a whole new level.
According to statistics, by next year, the global online gambling market will be worth $565.4 billion. Amongst popular online casino games, are online slots, which have one of the highest uptake of players out of all casino games.
Part of the reason for this is that online slots are becoming highly advanced and more intuitive. Slot games now have improved graphics and audio, smarted algorithms that create fairer play and much more variety. Many slot games are now themed around popular tv shows and movies, as well as featuring in game bonuses and new rewards.
Retro hardware revival
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the revival of much loved gaming consoles and classic titles of the eighties and nineties. The likes of Wii offer GameCube title capacity and Nintendo brought out the Switch, in which players can enjoy classic titles like Marion Cart on a trusty old handheld.
However, over 2021 we’re set to see even more retro hardware revival with the introduction of the Atari VCS; a hybrid of PC and console gaming that recalls the nostalgia of the good old days. The new console will offer new titles, in addition to much loved classic 2D games.
Another retro console that has recently entered the market is the Analogue Pocket. This console is able to run original games from Game Boy, Game Boy Color and GBA. To top this off, Playdate is in the process of releasing a retro handheld that comes complete with a winding arm.
It seems that things have a way of coming back full circle.
BAFTA Game Awards
This year’s BAFTA Game Awards recently took place, highlighting some of the best games on the market currently.
Amongst the winning titles were ancient Greek themed title – Hades, a number of exclusive Sony titles, including Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, as well as The Last of Us Part 2 and Animal Crossing.
Common themes amongst the winning titles were social gaming features such as multiplayer mode, leader boards and in-play chat features. Games that promoted diversity and equality such as Animal Crossing and LittleBigPlanet were also highly commended.
Another factor to take away from this year’s BAFTA Game Awards was the promotion of gaming as more than mindless games’ that are just passive activities. The emergence of categories like ‘Games that make us think and feel’ have become more popular, indicating that gaming could even become a part of social inclusivity and reform.
The re-emergence of anti-realism
While some of the most popular titles like CoD and FIFA are based around cultural norms and events of our world, some of the latest games are reincorporating anti-realism features. The appeal of this is most likely based in being able to escape the reality of our current world, in which anti-realism titles have included Adventure Dordogne, Sci-fi game Sabel and Deathloop, to name a few.
The last year has proved to be inspirational to the gaming industry, in which industry bodies and gaming creators are now playing a huge part in the transformation of the way gaming is perceived and experienced. No longer is gaming a mindless activity, used to fill the time. Gaming is now part of a larger cultural movement that promotes mental health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, as well as celebrating classic titles of the old days that celebrate that sense of nostalgia lying deep inside us all.
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