Where will gaming be in 10 years? Predicting the future is a tough task. Those who have achieved it in the past with any degree of reliability almost invariably come out on top within their industry and peers. Predicting the future of video games is an even more difficult task though. So much changes in the world of gaming during a decade.
Before we go forward, let’s look back. 10 years ago, game streaming wasn’t even a thing. Hell, YouTube was only three years old. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had just come out and console players were just starting realising you could play games online! The previous generation of consoles was just getting started, while Valve’s Steam service was already starting to mature with several years under it’s belt. Massive titles such as Crysis and BioShock had just launched and we were about to enter a massive period for PC gaming progression.
There was a real turnaround in progress.
The previously dominant consoles were beginning to lose their domination of the industry and the ease and relative in-expense of PC games meant PC gaming was gaining a large foothold.
And 10 years before, we saw the release of Baldur’s Gate, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Starcraft, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 2, Half-Life and Grim Fandango. The games of this era are almost unrecognisable compared to the graphical titans of today, and certainly a million miles away from Crysis, the PC-destroying behemoth that would arrive in nine years’ time.
The point being that a lot can change in ten years.
A decade ago we didn’t even know what a microtransaction was. And Ray Tracing in modern games was unthinkable. So what lies ahead within the next decade? Let’s delve into the future and see what lies ahead…
I believe we’re going to witness some massive changes.
I think in 10 years’ time, most of the consoles will either be hybrids like the Switch, or a streaming stick, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick, that you can take away with you anywhere. With console graphics nearly at a photo-realistic levels, and mobile devices quickly catching up with them, this is the way the market will eventually go, as the power of consoles reach a plateau. The Switch is a fantastic device, and the sense of freedom you get by not being shackled to your TV is amazing. If they can devise a handheld, that has a dock with an extra graphics card that can handle 4K displays, it would make for a superb console.
PS Now has proven that streaming games can work really well with the right connection, and I think an HDMI stick that you can plug in to any TV could make a cheaper alternative to a costly console, with players paying a subscription each month for streaming a selection of the latest titles.
Whether we like it or not, there’s too much money being invested into game streaming for it not to be a thing. It’s going to take off eventually, and this will likely be accompanied by a transition away from traditional hardware such as games consoles. The Xbox or PlayStation services may just be apps on a TV or a store, each offering a subscription service and an ever-expanding library of games. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Microsoft got out of the console business for good, instead offering an app and the Xbox Game Pass subscription service that can be run on phones, tablets, TVs, PCs, and maybe even other games consoles. (It’s not a million miles away from services they currently offer)
VR has a chance of mainstream success in the near future, if they can manage to devise a way to play fast-paced first person games on it without any problems. Which would open up VR to all titles, rather than just games designed specifically for VR, which have been lambasted for being too short and more like demos. They also could do with cutting down the cost of the headset, and the cabling required, which limits their audience somewhat.
All you can eat gaming
The way we buy games will change, and games will become more service-based, with a monthly subscription paid for access to a selection of titles. EA have started doing this with EA Access, which by all accounts is a good service for the money you pay, and I can see this expanding in future, with other companies offering a similar service. Services like PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold expanding, and offering a broader selection of titles, and becoming more like a Sky style subscription for gaming.
PC gaming will still be around of course, and I think it’ll likely grow in popularity as games shift away from the focus on hardware. There will still be a demand for playing games the right way, without always-online requirements and without the latency issues that come with streaming.
From a technical standpoint, PC will be the place to be in an even bigger way than it is now. Ease-of-use currently reigns supreme in consoles, but there’s always going to be the dedicated contingent of gamers that want to play without compromise. I should imagine that 4K will be occupying a similar spot to how 1080p is viewed today. 4K will absolutely be seen as a minimum standard in 10 years’ time, and I suspect high-end PC gamers will even be looking beyond 4K.
Personally, I do hope single-player games are still around in 10 years, and we’re not bombarded with loot crates, and other nefarious ways to leverage money from players. I don’t mind cosmetic micro transactions, as they can be easily ignored, but pay to win special items in games really grind my gears, and give players with cash to burn an unfair advantage.
Games like Call Of Duty and FIFA will still be around, but I’m a bit concerned that some other great experiences like Dishonored and Wolfenstein don’t get the support they deserve, and we are left with a less diverse selection of games to play.
Then we have Ray-tracing, a revolutionary new technique for rendering shadows and lighting within games far more realistically than any previous methods. Although this alone may seem like a small advancement, think back to how Anti-Aliasing changed the market place.
Anyway, I’m rambling, and it’s probably all nonsense anyway. I want to hear what you think though, and where you think gaming is going over the next decade. Do you have big hopes for the next 10 years of gaming? Or will your biggest fears come true?