Whether you’re slaying dragons, returning to a medieval era as an infamous assassin, or hijacking cars to a rocking 80’s soundtrack, the gaming industry offers the most bizarre (yet perfectly acceptable) storylines that have the power to suck you into a realm of virtual reality for hours. Living in a generation of ever adapting online technology, it seems only normal that consumers suffer from a short attention span, meaning that game designers are working even harder to ensure our demands are met for entertaining storylines, detailed graphics and a more immersive experience. With pro-gamers seeking more innovative platforms, better peripherals, social integration and online interaction within gaming titles, the future of gaming can only become more cutting-edge. The Plusnet team had the chance to catch up with gaming journalists the UK News Editor of GameSpot, Rob Crossley, and Leon Hurley, News Editor of Kotaku UK, to explore the upcoming trends.
Virtual Reality (or VR) is as niche as it comes for now and has already proven to be a popular user experience for the lucky few that have had the opportunity to play around. Toying with your senses, the Oculus Rift head mounted display unit takes you into a whole new world, creating a false sense of reality. Impressed by the device, Rob Crossley believes it will be perfect for keen gamers yet is sceptical of its wider business appeal outside the hardcore gaming community.
“It’s not as natural for consumers to place a device on their head focusing on one screen only as it is to use multiple screens, such as going on social media on a smart phone while gaming on a larger device. I’m not convinced that everyone will want to finish a long day at work and then come home, wanting to instantly wear the Oculus Rift device, but it is very exciting technology especially for the avid gamers out there.”
Although originally designed to entertain gamers, interest in the device has since snowballed across different industries with TV broadcaster NBC recently stating its plans to release an Oculus Rift Tour, giving fans of popular TV series ‘The Voice’ a chance to feel like one of the judges on the show. According to Leon, the Oculus Rift is at least another year away, he said;
“tech wise, so soon after a generation change, I can't see too much changing radically in terms of hardware. I think the big changes are going to be software-based or conceptual.”
Using the environment
With most games, we only have the chance to use one single screen (or maybe two if you’re real keen) to immerse ourselves into the character’s world, unless you’re Oculus Rifting. Yet last year, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Illumiroom, a system that blows the traditional way we display games out of the water and brings the virtual world directly to you and into your room. Illumiroom has the power to transform your entire room around your TV into an extension of the screen, and if you do not want to cry into the console in your hand, we suggest avoiding this video. Sadly, the everyday gamer will most likely not be able to afford the system as Microsoft said the cost will total thousands of dollars. Yet not all hope is lost as the public launch of the Illumiroom may lead to other companies rivalling the software and creating one suitable for those on a more modest budget.
The tech world has exploded with the growth of gaming ‘celebs’ who are all visible across almost every social media and video platform, making it possible to tune into their channels and watch the ‘stars’ blog and play games, following their every gaming move, tip and trick. As a result of these huge communities and followings, popular bloggers such as PewDiePie make millions of dollars by covering humorous walkthroughs of games like Minecraft and entertaining his viewers. With popular platforms such as Twitch (video platform and community for gamers) continuously rising, it seems more than likely that we can expect to see a trend in game developers designing methods of incorporating social media into our play. Rob Crossley reckons that game developers will be putting more thought into the user’s online behaviour.
“I believe they are going to be asking the question, ‘how will people use this game online?’ as adding streaming and sharing features seems to be the way forward in the industry.”
Leon Hurley agrees and told Plusnet:
“I expect to see more and more social integration in game design and more steps towards streaming platforms and services like PlayStation Now or EA's subscription program.”
Indie games on the rise
Rob Crossley has high hopes for Indie Games and reckons they will have the chance to compete alongside big names in the industry as support and funding has become readily available.
“Compared to 15 years ago, developers now have numerous amounts of resources available to them. For example, they can now use Kickstarter or Sony’s funding program to help them fund projects and they can promote their games online via social media creating their own gaming communities which can help them establish top quality games more than ever before. AAA games generally will still be very comfortable in the gaming industry due to customer loyalty and thanks to the constant demand for better games so AAA will always have a place, but we’re already seeing a trend in Indie Games becoming more and more popular today.”
The history of graphics show huge improvements already. Just take a minute to think back to your Gameboy times playing Zelda in comparison to the full HD visuals of Battlefield 4. Already, it seems graphically harder to push the limit.
“The difference between this and the last generation for example is not as pronounced as it has been in the past,” said Leon Hurley, who thinks the next big improvement will be in a game’s narrative. “As games get more detailed and capable of portraying emotion more subtly the 'angry man with a gun' character is getting harder to pull off. Stories are going to be the next big thing to improve with better, more plausible characters and stories that aren't focused purely on conflict and explosions.”
PC vs Console
PC gaming, having always had a dedicated but perhaps underrepresented following, is now seemingly entering a renaissance period. Our latest statistics show that gaming traffic on PCs has nearly doubled in one year, up from 25% to 45%. Many are now opting out of using consoles as a result of frequent updates, and so gamers are turning to the PC, putting that good old RAM into practice and investing time and money into high-tech gaming. The ability to upgrade your PC hardware to match the demand of more powerful games is often a far cheaper alternative than emptying your pockets on the latest console every other year.