2021 was a big year for gaming, with record numbers of players playing games in all formats around the globe. As individuals search for socially distanced forms of entertainment, the pandemic has played some role in boosting the industry.
With groundbreaking graphics, gameplay, and virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) elements, game development keeps pushing the limits of possibility. Dedicated gaming PCs and consoles are ever more affordable, and as a legitimate alternative medium, mobile gaming is coming into its own.
2021, with developers working on VR and AR sports, full-motion, inclusive gaming, and much more, promises to have some excitement in store. Let's have a look at what trends will affect next year's video game landscape.
AR games merge digital and real. Pokemon Go, which earned over a billion downloads when it published in 2016, is the best example of an AR game.
Building on the popularity of recent games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, where players discover the world around them while collecting objects and fighting enemies, I expected developers to further explore the world of AR in 2021. Another instance of a game based on the Pokemon Go format is Ingress Prime, with players seeking portals for their team, and Jurassic World Alive is similar, but, of course, dino-themed.
But, there are other forms of AR games as well: Kings of Pool transforms any flat surface into a pool table in your home or outside, and games like Brick scape are simpler-a puzzler with the camera of your smartphone providing a backdrop.
When it first came on the scene in the 1980s, VR seemed like the future. However, it left as a sidelined curiosity by the relatively primitive (and very costly) technology around then. Recent years have seen VR increasingly become more popular, with gamers pursuing ever more interactive experiences and the hardware becoming more widespread and affordable. The best examples are Oculus Rift and PSVR. As a result, many developers are integrating VR into their games, which is expected to become more common in 2021. We see names that let you completely enter the fantasy worlds, such as the Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Beat Saber, Fairpoint, or New Half-Life.
Online casino games are one area where VR has already been bubbling away for a few years now. Some of the best casino providers understand the potential VR offers, according to VegasSlots, an English blog about online casinos. For wanting to introduce us to lovable characters and take us on thrilling adventures, providers such as Betsoft and Netent are renowned. Thus, expect to see more VR slots alongside classic and pop culture-themed slot games, jackpots, 3D and video slots.
Mobile gaming has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, being a respected forum alongside the console and PC. Expect more console games to move to tablets and smartphones, but console gamers will save their progress across devices while they're on the go with seamless integration now normal.
We've seen the smartphone care of old school games-Apple Arcade is a good example-and we expect this to begin next year.
Mobile has its own share of custom-made originals that make the most of modern phones' groundbreaking graphical capabilities. Two such examples are Monument Valley and Infinite Loop: quick yet absorbing gameplay and lush, soothing visuals that brighten up commutes across the globe. In 2021, expect more of the same.
Game developers have realized the commercial advantages of appealing to a vast variety of demographics. The secret to an inclusive game like Minecraft or Roblox is that the gameplay is imaginative and user-generated in nature.
Destructive games such as first-person shooters or sandbox GTA-style games control a significant part of the gaming market. There is something refreshing and common about inclusive games, and another aspect of the appeal is the fact that the user primarily generated the content.
Gradual gameplay, focused on problem solving, draws players of all ages who may not be so adept at fast-paced, action-driven games.
Full-motion games, basically interactive movies, have been around in one form or another since the early 1980s, but advancements in technology have made them more popular. They lend themselves to puzzle or murder mystery type gameplay and are great for a group or socially distanced gathering with multiplayer features.
Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope encourages users to select various dialogues and actions to decide the outcome, and through narrative video clips, progress tracked. A big trend in 2021 may be full-motion sports.
It will spoil video players for options with 2022 just around the corner (already!)-there will be even more excuses to stay home!