Video Gaming Trends in 2021: How Games Are Becoming More Immersive
Video games are not only ever-evolving but ever-growing. As of 2020, global gaming revenue increased 20% to $179.7 billion, according to IDC. That makes the industry more lucrative than American movies and sports combined. Wrapped up within this surge of activity was a 24% uptick in mobile gaming.
For anyone with an eye on recent gaming trends, mobiles have been the standout performers in recent years. 2020 proved that fact once again as more than 2.5 billion people used their mobiles to play games. Puzzles were the most popular, followed by RPG and arcade games.
Of course, mobile gaming trends go beyond these types of games. However, it’s interesting to see how this subsector of the industry has grown in recent years.
Moreover, it’s confirmation that gaming trends that were once touted as “the future” have fulfilled their promise. Indeed, for anyone that sees virtual reality (VR) as one of the latest trends in gaming, this is encouraging.
Like mobile gaming, VR has been lauded as one of the top video game trends in recent years. It hasn’t fully broken through yet, but the omens are positive.
Although many innovations often fall flat, some survive the test of time and reshape the industry. Mobile gaming did and VR may do the same. The question, however, is what other trends in the gaming industry have the potential to flourish?
This article will highlight some of the top gaming trends in 2021 and highlight a few ideas that could redefine the future of the industry.
The Latest Gaming Trends
Gaming trends in 2021 are, by and large, focused on one thing: immersion. VR is leading the way, but there are other gaming trends aimed at making products more engaging and accessible to players of all persuasions.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The combined might of VR and augmented reality (AR) is forecast to be worth $58.7 million by 2022, according to Statista data. Of the two, VR is most likely to change the gaming industry. Oculus Rift and other headsets are gradually becoming less cumbersome and more immersive.
This, in tandem with add-ons, such as haptic feedback gloves like HapticX, is making virtual worlds come to life.
The release of Pokémon Go had gamers thinking that AR may become the dominant force. However, it’s looking likely that AR will become more prominent in advertising and other forms of entertainment. Although virtual overlays and the merging of real and digital is exciting, it isn’t quite right for gaming (at this point).
Thus, in this respect, AR could be seen as one of those highly touted gaming trends that never fulfilled its potential.
Streaming and Entertainment
Another of the successful trends in gaming that play into the narrative of inclusion and accessibility is streaming. In February 2021, Twitch had an average of 2.9 million concurrent viewers.
This is thanks to content from more than 7 million streamers and over 30 million daily visitors. Adding to the ever-growing body of streaming content out there, platforms such as YouTube and HitBox are turning gaming into mainstream entertainment.
What’s most interesting about this gaming trend is that it’s now being monetized. Although the top streamers have been earning money for a few years, big brands are jumping on the bandwagon. As well as sponsoring streamers, they’re now hosting their own channels.
As such, Twitch et al are being used to advertise new products and the latest trends in gaming industry sectors.
One of the gaming trends that’s most likely to shape the industry is artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is embryonic at this stage - but - among the gaming trends in 2021 to look out for, it’s right up there as the most promising.
The main way AI is transforming video games and making them more immersive is through non-player characters (NPCs). The concept of AI-powered interactive experiences means that NPCs can act and react intelligently. In other words, these characters can adapt to a player’s actions, learn, and present new scenarios, much like real life.
Another area in which AI has the potential to change gaming is design. Although AI systems can’t create games from scratch, they are capable of designing simple assets. This frees up the developers to focus on the main elements of a game. The end result, in theory, is a better overall product.
Of course, this isn’t a guarantee. If developers can spend more time on their characters and the storyline, however, they have the potential to make experiences more enjoyable. Moreover, they have a better chance of getting the most from current gaming trends and piquing the interests of players.
Data Analytics and Modelling Future Gaming Trends
The final way AI could change the industry is data analytics. These systems have the power to process data and, importantly, learn from it. This can help companies spot gaming trends as they’re developing and react accordingly.
Data analytics has always had a place in the industry. However, with AI, it’s possible to delve deeper into the stats and model potential outcomes. If developers can spot gaming trends before they develop and model their potential success, it can help them cut away the fat. This, in turn, means there will be more great games and less fluff.
Again, this is somewhat theoretical. AI can help provide insights and predictions but, as everyone knows, nothing is ever guaranteed. Certain trends in the gaming industry, like the Nintendo Switch, looked poised to become the next big thing but fell short. Other gaming trends that didn’t seem to have any potential suddenly became a hit.
Therefore, while it’s possible to analyze more data, the future is never set in stone. That, of course, is what makes the industry exciting. You never really know which gaming trends are going to take hold. The one thing that’s clear right now is that video games are becoming more immersive and more intelligent.
That, in turn, has the potential to make everything even more exciting in the coming years. So, if you’re looking for future gaming trends, make sure you focus on those that aim to make experiences more engaging!