As the pandemic slowly wears thin, many industries still struggle to find their footing back. Not gaming – among a handful of markets that saw a spectacular rise in the past two years. Globally, the evolution of gaming off late has significantly impacted game dynamics, but some trends have become more apparent than others. The genre-defining shifts in gaming that we have seen in 2021 are likely to continue to 2022 and beyond, shaping the games we know, how we play and interact with them, and even in-game milestones and rewards.
Trends to Look For in 2022 and After:
2020 and 2021 have been a mixed bag for gamers. While gaming as a whole has proliferated, a worldwide boom in cryptocurrency and other factors have resulted in major chip shortages for consumer hardware – including discrete graphic cards (GPUs) for PCs and Consoles. Factors like these have made gamers look away from traditional ways to game. Nevertheless, gaming trends that we think will continue to define the industry next year and beyond include:
Increase in Cloud Gaming or Gaming as a Service (GaaS):
The global chip shortage has made traditional gaming a costly proposition. An increased number of people have hence started to look at alternatives – and cloud gaming has more or less started to fill this void.
Like other cloud-based services, gaming-as-a-service or cloud gaming is a subscription service that provides you access to games installed at remote servers. They are streamed to you via the internet, and you access them via the browser or a dedicated client. While this makes the gaming experience majorly dependent on your internet speed, it removes all other hardware bottlenecks.
Google Stadia, NVidia GeForce Now, Playstation Now, and Xbox Cloud Gaming – all major players in cloud gaming have had a stellar 2021. Newzoo reports that cloud gaming will have 23.7 million paid users and a revenue of $1.6 billion by the end of this year. In addition, the market cap is projected to reach $6.5 billion in 2024.
Cloud gaming has become so popular that even Amazon and Netflix have introduced their own GaaS products to tap into this market. This is arguably the biggest trend in gaming that is sure to get more traction in 2022 and later.
The Continued Rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Games:
In 2019, Ericsson’s study yielded that 35% of non-gamers had expressed an interest in AR gaming. The number has only grown in the past two years, given the insane expansion of mobile games. Augmented Reality’s nifty way of incorporating existing elements in your environment is proving to be a major force behind its popularity.
Virtual Reality games have been in existence for a couple of years now. Unlike AR, VR games immerse you in the world of their own – hence a separate, empty room is often recommended – and require custom, dedicated hardware like VR headsets and controllers. Oculus and HTC dominate the VR market, with major funding coming courtesy of Facebook (Meta) and other investors.
Our increased online presence and the skyrocketing mobile gaming universe will continue to open new frontiers for both VR and AR gaming in the coming years. Reports indicate that by 2023, AR and VR headsets will be selling a substantial 30 million units annually.
Cross-Platform Games to Dominate, More Remasters/Remakes to Come
Mobile gaming’s massive explosion in recent years has forced game developers to make games that run on both Android and iOS. This is a trend that we’re seeing making its way to PC and Console gaming. The latest iterations of many PC or console-exclusive games have been released to all platforms in the past two years. More games are now cross-platform compliant, which means you can play with your peers regardless of your device, be it mobile, consoles or PC. Technologies like 5G and generational performance improvements in gaming hardware will make crossplay development and participation easier in the coming years.
Classic games are also making a comeback – either as remakes or remastered versions with improved feature-sets like higher resolution textures, better gameplay, and others. Remasters like Resident Evil HD have made us re-appreciate them, and remakes like Final Fantasy 7 and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary have been universally praised.
Gaming + Blockchain = the Future?
The buzz around cryptocurrency does not seem to be stopping any time soon. Cryptocurrency runs on blockchains – a technology that decentralizes data by splitting it into tokens and then joining them with cryptography. Blockchains have increased security and speed – something that the gaming industry – largely reliant on in-game purchases – is trying to leverage. Some games already support cryptocurrency-based payments, a trend that will only increase in 2022 and beyond. Moreover, game developers leverage decentralized apps to build blockchain-based games that seamlessly integrate with crypto wallets as payment options.
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are also seeing a surge in gaming. NFTs allow you to own digital assets like videos, images, and games or in-game content. Even AAA game developers like Ubisoft are getting in on this trend, which is sure to get more traction in the next couple of years.
eSports Rules the Roost:
The pandemic has all but ensured that it shot up top as if eSports wasn’t popular earlier. As a result, Multiplayer games like League of Legends, Valorant, and PUBG have dominated all of 2020 and 2021 – raking in massive revenues – and are poised to continue this trend in 2022 and beyond well.
The gaming industry has undergone a tremendous change in the past couple of years. Mobile gaming and eSports dominate the market; AR and VR gaming are on the rise; cryptocurrency and NFTs are just around the corner; cross-platform games are climbing up the charts. By the end of this year, there will be 2.9 billion gamers generating a staggering $175.8 billion in market revenue, driving current trends in 2022 and beyond.