Gaming has quickly become one of the most popular pastimes globally over the last few years, whether you use a laptop, a smartphone, or a gaming console to get your gaming fix. Games are becoming more and more advanced in terms of their graphics, with technology also improving to allow those high-resolution images and gameplay to be rendered without turning your system into a ball of fire.
Gaming processor units, or GPUs, have grown by leaps and bounds in recent times, and this has allowed for some amazing games with truly stunning visuals to make their way into the market. It is not just visuals, though, storytelling has also improved, with players making it clear that a game with an engrossing and engaging storyline will be able to get their attention.
This is one of the biggest reasons for the general success of the open-world role-playing game (RPG) genre in the last few years, as people have been looking for alternative worlds and stories to get immersed in. It should therefore be no surprise that gaming continued to be extremely popular this year during the pandemic, as people looking for an escape from regular life, which had turned into a dystopian horror novel for many of them.
However, it is also interesting to take a look at what the future of gaming holds for us. For example, a few years ago, most people with an interest in gaming and technology would have backed 3D games and virtual reality to be the big drivers of gaming in the future.
3D TVs and games are a thing of the past now, after a brief period where it was made clear that users hated this technology, while virtual reality is only just beginning to get up to a standard where we can expect some quality gaming to come through.
Half-Life: Alyx was perhaps the first proper VR gaming title that worked to a decent level, and it only came out this March, which shows that there is still some way for VR games to go. This also shows how it is extremely difficult to predict anything in the technology space, and that goes for gaming as well. Nevertheless, as 2020 comes to a close, here are some of the advances and innovations we expect to see in the gaming sector in the coming years.
Many experts believe that ‘mixed reality’ is the way to go in the future. These will be games that combine virtual reality and augmented reality, to give users an even more immersive experience than currently possible.
As stated earlier, we have already seen virtual reality slowly become a part of the gaming sector. One of the areas where it has proven to be widespread is the online gambling sector, where VR is being used as a way of providing a live casino experience to players in the comfort of their homes.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, is being seen in games such as Pokemon GO, which superimposes game elements onto real-life images. A blend of these two technologies is what experts believe will be the way forward since virtual reality can be expensive, and it is also uncomfortable, with users needing to strap on a headset.
AR and VR can be used together to bring the gaming experience into the real world, which will be extremely appealing for gaming fans. A related innovation that will need to take place for this to succeed is better haptic feedback.
Players in games should be able to feel what they are doing, such as picking up ammo in a first-person shooter game or feeling all the vibrations and bumps that come with driving a car at high speed. Having better haptic feedback through controllers will help in making the gaming experience more immersive when used in conjunction with AR and VR.
These upgrades will be gradual, however, rather than being one big announcement that significantly improves the gaming experience. This is because gaming technology is already quite mature, and so improvements to graphics, internet systems, and the tech discussed above will be incremental.
However, one area which could have a big impact on gaming is artificial intelligence (AI). Games already use AI for the behavior of non-playing characters, but there is still a lot that can be done to improve them. Of course, the AI is constrained by the game itself, since you do not want game characters to begin doing something that is not part of the game.
However, AI has a big role to play in making the game world more realistic, by making interactions with game characters better, and offering more nuanced options and reactions. AI will also help during game development, by reducing game development time.
It can be used to procedurally generate game environments and characters, which reduces the need for game engineers and studios to spend time working on them, and it also adds replay value to the final game, since new levels and environments can be generated in the same game without needing to release updates.
Cloud-based gaming could also be a huge factor in gaming popularity in the years to come, and the likes of Google Stadia are only just exploring this. This will open gaming up to millions of users, who do not have the technology to play high-end games by themselves but can do so through cloud computing.
Microsoft’s newest Flight Simulator game is another example of this, where the game environments are hosted and generated on the cloud, to allow users to be able to experience the Earth in all its glory, as well as accurately.
The game would likely have been in the hundreds of terabytes if it would have shipped with all the game environments on it, which shows how cloud computing can allow for much more detailed gaming experiences to be created for players.
These are just some of the ways in which we expect gaming to evolve in the coming years. Of course, we do not expect to be completely accurate, and there could well be an innovation that we have not spoken of which becomes the biggest feature in gaming in the future.