Once again, we’re at a point in time where the future of gaming appears quite uncertain. The life cycle of the current generation of consoles is beginning to come to an end, with the next iteration of the PlayStation and Xbox brand expected to be fully announced and released in the upcoming years, putting them alongside the already-for-sale Nintendo Switch. So, what can we expect from the future of the gaming industry as a branch of both technology and entertainment?
A couple years ago, the answer to this question seemed relatively clear. Onwards from 2010, we were starting to see the emergence of several new innovations in the way we play video games. During this period, evidenced by the Kinect and PS Move, companies started trying to ride the trend of motion gaming started by the Wii. Suddenly, games media and corporations began expressing the importance of this new way to play games, even to the point where Microsoft forced the Kinect in with the Xbox One. However, that trend quickly died as soon as the gimmick wore off. What I would consider the equivalent of this in modern gaming, is the current concept of virtual reality.
Now, I know the merits of VR are still up for debate, and there certainly are many VR enthusiasts, but I just don’t see the technology taking off with the public in any meaningful way, including the video game space. Disappointing sales for the VR industry last year, prove this more than any kind of conjecture. And although PlayStation is doing quite well with their VR system, the technology as a whole has not been a success story, yet. There’s still so many obstacles to overcome before anyone can even call VR an aspect of the future of gaming. The price is still high for what is essentially an accessory, dedicated games are sparse, and the technology itself is a hassle to demonstrate to new markets of people.
All of this seems to tie into the repeated and tired argument that gaming as we know it, ‘is dying.’ It wasn’t long ago when people and companies began declaring the soon vanquishment of single player games. Game publishers started focusing more on multiplayer and co-op, thinking that the days of single player experiences were numbered, and more importantly, less lucrative. In reality, players were and are, still hungry for strong, solo video games. Just look at the commercial successes of Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and this year’s highly celebrated Zelda sequel, for example.
Then came all the mobile gaming hype. Companies like Konami looked at the profits of Candy Crush and Clash Of Clans, and blindly placed their efforts into that market without looking at all the failures of mobile gaming. Nowhere is this more clear than Nintendo’s recent attempt at cracking the ‘goldmine’ with Super Mario Run. They learnt first hand that mobile gamers not only don’t like to pay for stuff but will actively complain when they are asked to.
Indeed, the games industry has been littered with false predictions of the future over the last decade or so. So, what is the future of gaming, then? In my opinion, it will mostly just be more of the same. Consoles won’t die anytime soon, VR won’t be a major aspect of gaming, mobile gaming won’t take the place of single player games, and so on. And if any of my own predictions turn out to be completely false, look forward to another article where I’ll make fun of myself for having had no foresight.