Insights

What’s the next biggest trend in gaming?

Article written by Andy Turton, Director of X4 Technology.

With the looming release of the Xbox Series X and S and PlayStation 5, both of which are set to offer gamers an unparalleled experience like never before, we have been asking our network of talented gaming professionals about what the next biggest trend is in gaming.

From the growing number of indie studios pushing the boundaries of what games can be by developing games based on riskier and controversial topics we haven’t seen before, to the power of stand-out content and greater collaborations across the industry, we spoke to those in the know to find out.

With 27 years’ experience working in gaming, Kate Edwards, executive director at The Global Game Jam and Founder of Geogrify knows a lot about the industry. Here are her thoughts on the question:

“We’re seeing more departure from what I consider ‘standard genres’, like Halo, Call of Duty and Animal Cross, etc. They’re not going away but what’s really exciting to me and frankly, where I see the most innovation, is the independent gaming community. Indie game developers aren’t as constrained by the need to produce revenue. Obviously, they want to make money but a lot of larger studios are dealing with massive franchises so there’s a lot at stake for them, which constrains how creative they can be because ultimately you’re serving an audience who like a certain thing.

I’m really excited for the next Call of Duty and Halo, I don’t expect them to be vastly different because that’s part of the point – people want that similar experience they’ve had before. Whereas indie games don’t have that constraint so it’s a whole new experience. In the indie space we’re seeing things most AAA companies wouldn’t do in my opinion, as it’s deemed too experimental or controversial but games need to mature and to mature, they need to take on all kinds of topics and take risks in what is considered an acceptable game.

We’ve seen this in every other creative medium, they reach a point where the creators take on any topic. Games unfortunately have been constrained to making only fun and not controversial or sad games. But games like The Last of Us or The Last of US 2 are very moving so it’s great we’re seeing more games expand the expectations of what a game can be.”

Technical artist at Hutch, Women in Games Ambassador and Culture Ambassador, Jing Tan Chun shared her thoughts on the next trend in gaming:

“I think procedural content creation (especially texturing) and photogrammetry workflows are going to become more commonplace, leading to more believable world and immersive experiences in games. As a result, teams will need to adapt to new workflows, games will be less focused on optimisation and more focused on making really great content as processing capabilities increase.”

With 35 years’ experience in developing and leading technical teams all of the world and dozens of products and games under his belt, Jeffrey Brown shared his predictions:

“Hardware has to be better than the games themselves require, especially with ray tracing coming. Audio is standardised, computer processing units (CPUs) are more than fast enough and video cards are reaching their optimal feature sets. Where else is there to go? If it isn’t already, content will be king.

Massive multiplayer games will grow in size, not just in terms of concurrently connected users (CCUs), but also in terms of content and players who are able to play together on a single server, in a single zone. Tech is available that allows a single “server” to be broken down into multiple servers, each one handling a single part of game play: AI, Mobs, path finding, etc. this removes all boundaries with regard to the hardware necessary to serve a game. Distributed Game Server technology will grow.”

Steven Kerr, Head of IT at Build a Rocket Boy, an experienced tech professional in building and leading teams across enterprise and high-growth start-ups gave his insights:

“Big and small studios are grappling with the idea of live service at the moment. This isn’t new but the next biggest trend is more integrated services and more collaborations across the industry. We’ve seen this with Fortnite and their collaborations with Marvel. This is widening the industry massively. This, however, needs to be done carefully and it has to harmonize with the intellectual property. Live service seems to be the way a large group of games will be delivered.

There is a tension between monetising the experience while staying true to the creative essence. Both need to be tended to and thought about very carefully. It is a tug of war where no side can win, and this is a good example of that.”

We would love to hear from you if you’re a gaming professional and studio with a different view on what the next big thing will be. Send your thoughts to gaming@x4technology.co.uk to be included in our next insight.

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