Article: The Future of Gaming
Video games have never been bigger. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the industry as a whole took in 23.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2015; a five percent jump from the previous year and with huge AAA games and possible new console launches, 2016 looks like it could be even bigger. We've been here before though and in the 80s that resulted in one hell of a crash. So just where is the video game industry going in the next few years? We look at a few recent industry trends to try to take a guess.
One look at any video game website or magazine (they still make those right?) and it's clear that the industry is betting heavy on virtual reality technology. You make look like Geordi La Forge but companies are banking on the fact that these headsets will immerse you in the game world like never before. The most known brand of VR headset would of course be the Oculus Rift, which launched recently with a hefty $1000 price tag. As a middle aged gamer expecting his first child in the next few months, there's absolutely no way I can drop $1000 dollars on a VR headset right now, and my guess is that a lot of gamers are in the same mindset right now, so the success of a unit like the Oculus Rift will be dependent on the company showing exactly why it's worth the price tag.
Of course, there are other units on the market at a fraction of the Oculus price, including the HTC/ Valve Vive which is outperforming the Rift in nearly every sense of the word. Sony's Project Morpheus has an interesting lineup including games like Gran Turismo and Tekken but they, like any new console need a killer app that I have to experience on the headset.
Nintendo is working on a new console that's coming out early next year and both Sony and Microsoft are reportedly working on newer versions of their pre-existing consoles. Oh, you thought that shiny piece of hardware was the latest and greatest? Try to keep up.
To quote a famous wise man “if you aint first, you're last” and no one wants to be left behind in the great console arms race. While we know very little about Nintendo's NX, we do know that it's an entirely new platform. We have seen possible controllers with built in LCD screens and touchpad but nothing will reportedly be confirmed until much later this year. This of course signals the end for the Wii U console, which never really met it's full potential. Industry analysts are saying that Nintendo is in financial trouble and that the industry favorite could be looking at a dire future, can another gimmicky console solve that?
As for Sony and Microsoft's new hardware, it sounds like they're newer versions of the consoles they already have out. Sony's PS4.5 or Project Neo as it's been dubbed will reportedly feature support for 4K resolution, which will require developers to make two different versions of each game, which some are understandably not too happy about. Microsoft will likely repeat their past by announcing a new, slimmer version of their Xbox One console, which...let's be honest - the thing looks like a VCR. Wilder rumors suggest that a new console could possibly be without an optical drive and only support digital game purchases. Of course, the future beyond this console generation is much more interesting as even Sony Computer Entertainment Vice President Masayasu Ito said in a recent interview that there will be a PS5 but ti could take a completely different form, perhaps being "completely in the cloud."
Free to Play
If Virtual Reality is the biggest trend in gaming then Free To Play games are not that far behind. It seems like everyday there's a new game with a commercial behind it, telling you to download now for free. These games are big business too, with big name spokes people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kate Upton.
Let's be honest though - most of the free to play games we've seen before have been…well, they've been crap. They've been cheap excuses to get you, or your kids to pay real world money for virtual goods or services. It's the same model drug dealers have been using for years, you get your first taste for free but then you better believe you're paying, Lately though that's changed a bit. With free to play games like Paragon, Warframe and World of Tanks, the quality of the experience has gone way up and while you're still paying for the added experience, you're more than able to play enough of the game to enjoy yourself before making the decision to do so.
One thing is clear; we're going to see more and more free to play games coming to both consoles and PC, for better or worse.
Where do you think the video game industry is going in the next year? Let us know!
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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