Video Game Industry Trends: What Is Holding Development Back?
During the coronavirus pandemic, game development has become one of the few fields experiencing large revenue growth, but game developers, designers, and artists had to be imaginative and creative to move forward.
Every year, the industry offers new perspectives on game development and continues to grow, becoming even more profitable on a global scale, with console games acting as its main driving force. There are now over 3 billion people who cannot imagine their lives without video games.
Game developers must be more flexible than ever to offer games as a service (GaaS) for PC and consoles. Cross-platform video game development is an inevitable advantage that every game development company should take advantage these days, allowing them to maximize the client base by allowing players to choose a device most convenient to them.
The industry’s fastest-growing area is the console segment, alongside PC games. One of the keys to success is providing game development services by choosing the right engine and being willing to import games to other platforms.
In general, the more platforms your game supports, the better. Do not get hung up on one platform.
NFT and Blockchain
NFTs have caused a revolution in the world of digital assets. It is now difficult to find a person who has never seen or at least heard about them.
One of the hottest trends in the video game world right now is play-to-own, the next evolution of the gaming industry, secured by blockchain and facilitating in-game transactions, which allows users to earn a living while playing their beloved titles. For years, gamers have dreamed of finding new opportunities to make money off their favorite hobby, and today it is easier to achieve than ever.
NFT and blockchain-based games are stimulating the market and opening up huge potential for the industry. NFT game development creates enormous business opportunities, which sets it apart from all other trends.
AR and VR Games
Modern AR and VR games are incredibly realistic, which makes them increasingly popular among gamers, in turn inspiring even more developers to work in this direction. Sony, for example, has already announced a new PlayStation VR headset that promises to take gaming to the next level.
That said, the trend is facing significant challenges, with the largest of them being the need to develop and integrate various AR and VR solutions. There are also high development and investment costs, legal risks, as well as lack of readily available tech for addressing and implementing this trend with the mainstream gaming culture.
The technology is still somewhat raw, but many large companies are expected to shift attention to AR and VR games in the coming years, resolving these problems.
AAA Video Games
According to Games Radar, AAA titles in 2022 are considered the most compelling, expansive, and high-quality video games played on PC and consoles. Forbes also claims that some AAAs are integrating NFTs, significantly boosting video game industry development. It makes sense to consider this type of games in greater detail.
Hyper-casual games are a relatively recent success story for the industry, typically offering players with abundant content and more straightforward storylines. The nature and essence of this genre ensure that it will always be popular among end users, serving as a great helper for game developers: hyper-casual titles are easier to both develop and sell. At the moment, hyper-casual proves to be one of the leading gaming trends.
The most notable examples are Warcraft, Minecraft, TBA, Tomb Raider 2, Mario, and Pikachu. End users not only play, but also love to watch others try these titles for themselves. We will just have to wait and see what the future has in store for this genre.
Huge Open Worlds
The gaming medium is actively using the opportunity to create entire lived-in universes, but not all studios are able to take on this challenge and release high-quality projects. Nevertheless, the open-world trend persists, so there are many new huge and sometimes empty-feeling worlds getting released every year.
Due to major studios’ desire to retain players for as long as possible, they often come to believe that users are prepared to perform the same actions for tens and even hundreds of hours or traverse gigantic stretches of virtual space without much explanation and a meaningful number of gameplay interactions.
It should be noted that the estimates for such projects are getting lower (take, for example, Far Cry 6), so there is hope that this trend will disappear or be forced to improve in the foreseeable future.
Game projects spanning multiple series yield guaranteed and stable income, as the fan base ensures stable sales upon each new release. With enough care from its parent studio, a series can evolve and improve, creating new gaming experiences. In some cases, franchise money even flows into completely new or spin-off titles, promising new emotions and novel gameplay mechanics or exploring different graphical styles and settings, all the while allowing developers to hone their skills with a different genre.
Regrettably, in many cases franchise owners only aim at making money without the prospect of bringing something new to their series, which they milk even as the games become indistinguishable clones of each other, coming out every other year like tin cans out of a conveyor belt. This unfortunate trend can now be seen with many major game-developing studios.
Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, FIFA, and many others are released in the similar vein, “delighting” players with their lacking “new features.”
This problem, which rids game project of their novelty, creativity, and uniqueness, threatens to plunge the industry into a crisis (read more on this topic here).
Remember the first lootbox war or the early in-game stores popping up in singleplayer projects? At the time, the users were annoyed by the presence of such DLC, but those now seems mundane and harmless compared to the in-game stores prevalent in many modern titles. It is one thing if these only include customization options or cosmetic items, but pay-to-win or pay-to-save-time mechanics appearing in certain projects serve only to test player patience and risk causing the next big media scandal.
Of course, project sales alone may not always be enough to pay for development and make a game profitable, which is why many studios have to look for additional monetization methods.
There is, however, a distinct line that developers and publishers have begun to cross way too frivolously in recent years with gameplay-altering lootbox contents, major (sometimes even main plot-driving) scenarios, and premium multiplayer add-ons. First, you buy the game, then you buy the opportunity to play it without sacrificing nerve cells and precious hours of your life.
There is now a massive variety of computer and console games on the market, and yet the industry constantly finds new opportunities for development and experimentation. Not all experiments are successful, but this is no reason to give up. Even if the first play-to-earn games were not too popular, their successors might still be able to radically change the general attitude towards the gaming industry as a whole.