Each year brings new exciting trends and business models into the world of gaming. Based on the success of previous years, gaming companies and brands go in a variety of different directions expanding on viable trends and removing lackluster ideas. In the year 2022, there are several trends that business leaders in the game industry are going to want to be aware of.
Metaverse Influences on VR
The announcement of the metaverse gave a voice to a digital dream that has long been featured in varying sci-fi sources. The idea of a fully digital environment where people can connect, live, and even work has been a pipe dream of the industry. However, technology in Virtual Reality mixed with some major developer interest has made the metaverse a more expansive opportunity.
Source: Freepik - Simulation vector
While there is still some hesitation within the industry, the surge in VR and AR technology caused by the Metaverse is undeniable. Opportunities for play-to-earn or pay-to-play gaming along with full digital occupations are starting to bubble across metaverse discussions. While there are still many advancements to be made, the energy given to metaverse options continues to trend upward throughout 2022.
Cloud Gaming’s Expansion
The gaming community has long been divided over purchasing games online or in physical form. While the concept of online purchasing is more convenient, many gamers find that it requires excessive hard drive space along with long download times. However, there is a solution available that has been growing in popularity. Cloud gaming services allow gamers to browse thousands of titles and stream them to their preferred platform without any wait times.
Along with accessibility, hardware limitations can be bypassed as you are remotely accessing the game from a company server. More and more companies are looking into streaming services like PS Now, and publishers are seeing returns on old titles from previous console generations. Interest in cloud gaming has grown by 105% over the last five years, and as the popularity of cloud gaming experiences continues to grow, it’s only a matter of time till competing services start vying for audience attention.
Still, this will be a make-it-or-break-it year for cloud gaming. For years services have been attempting to manifest cloud gaming as an accessible option but some limitations still continue to block progress. First and foremost, cloud gaming is reliant upon good internet connections and robust infrastructure from tech giants. If a company can not deliver the experience without noticeable lag, then competitive online gaming will be impossible through cloud services.
Further, many business models are not designed with cloud services in mind. Forcing gamers to buy games as they are released makes a stronger financial argument against a subscription service offering a wide selection. While cloud services do continue to appear, the future of these game development efforts is yet to be determined.
Console wars may be coming to a permanent halt as cross-platform opportunities are emerging more frequently. While PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo are still holding some IPs in system exclusivity, the breach of online multiplayer releases has opened the door to more cross-platform releases. Multiple systems, advancing technology, and lower costs make cross-platform options a gaming reality. Developers continue to experiment with game code and are finding viable options to increase performance across all release systems.
While in the past the platform dictated which communities of players a gamer would interact with, cross-platform features have changed this. Xbox, PC, Switch, and PlayStation may shift to primarily being a preference as fans can game with each other despite being on separate platforms. As accessibility for this feature grows, cross-platform may become more than a trend and instead stay as a lasting feature for the gaming community.
Growing interested in Sponsored Content and Play-to-Earn
A growing number of gamers are finding Play-to-Earn opportunities and this trend has expanded to a wider number of companies in the industry. From paid sponsorships to blockchain opportunities, several companies and development teams are looking at blockchain as a Play-to-Earn solution. While there are still many unknowns within this trend, many professionals agree that the number of Play-to-Earn opportunities is steadily increasing.
To be clear, Play-to-Earn is a way for players to earn real-world money by playing games. This business model is built on top of cryptocurrency and offers players a chance to play a game and earn crypto. Players who invest time into these games will be able to earn in-game assets that grow in value over time. While traditionally these assets would only have value within their respective titles, blockchain technology gives access to real-world value for digital assets.
Depending on the game, these assets can be traded for either established cryptocurrency or NFT rewards. It really boils down to the game’s developers and how they want to monetize their product. In a similar vein, Pay-to-Earn games are also trending allowing gamers to purchase NFTs and use them in competitive gaming environments.
Source: Lurkit Quests - Paid Creator Campaigns Tool
On a separate level, Sponsored Content is also rising under a similar name. Streamers and content creators are able to play titles and get paid by the game’s developers or publishers just for creating content around a game. Traditional sponsorships require working through an agent or emailing back and forth with game developers, but digital services have simplified this process of receiving direct commissions based on content creation.
The main difference in this style of Play-to-Earn options is the stability of a centralized payout. While some gamers fully believe in blockchain opportunities, gaming influencer marketing platforms are opening the door for real exchanges where content creators deliver content for a sustainable paycheck option.
Game Developer Equality Expansion
Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, and many other companies have seen a splattering of lawsuits over the last few years. This push for equality and confronting gender discrimination within work cultures will continue to be at the forefront of game industry trends. Improvements in working conditions, talk of unionization, and the dissolving of discriminatory workplace cultures will continue throughout the year.
Unionization is a hot topic of discussion with Activision Blizzard subsidiary Raven Software and many other divisions on strike. Recently, the first-ever North American game developer union was formed at indie studio Vodeo Games, and over half of the developers polled at the Game Developers Conference are in favor of unionization. The atmosphere of game work environments is set to continue its evolution towards a more equal and equitable state.
Remakes, Reboots, and Indie Bursts
Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and many developers are looking at old IPs and remembering different times. The increased chance for remakes and reboots is continuing to surge in an upward trend. While this will spark many gamers to revisit old worlds, it also spurs a new generation of developer-minded players who are releasing their own indie creations based on these nostalgic giants.
Old franchises that are fading into the background may see new life in the coming year, and old ideas could be reinvented. Platforms like Steam and Epic Games store make a game distribution available to a wider range of developers. The creativity sparked from sandbox endeavors creates the innovation needed for a new life in old ideals. Many professionals would not be surprised to see another Crash Bandicoot release, a new chapter to the Ratchet and Clank franchise, or the return of Banjo-Kazooie in the next few years. Forgotten icons may hold the key to the next few years of video game developer ingenuity and creativity.
Overall, it's becoming clear that gaming is more than just a leisure activity but rather a style of living. As the consumer's interest grows, companies will continue to innovate and bring forth technologies and opportunities that will move the gaming industry to new heights. It's exciting to look forward to what lies ahead in the gaming industry!