The Covid-19 induced 2020 was a tough year for all and sundry. Gaming industry too was no different. The pandemic disrupted gaming supply chains globally and delayed the launch of several new products.
Windfall in 2020:
However, some windfalls were evident in 2020 as well. Since gaming is traditionally an indoor activity, there were numerous new converts across the world as they confined themselves to their homes obeying the social distancing norms.
Expected Tech. Trends 2021:
The year 2021, it is hoped, will bring back the mojo. These visible gaming technology trends will drive the industry forward in 2021 as well as the second decade of the 21st century.
(1) Mainstreaming of 5G:
The transition from 4G to 5G may not seem very groundbreaking for an average person. But for a gamer, 5G internet connection is a blessing. This is because 5G internet connection can reduce the download speed as well as the latency.
From about 10 milliseconds on 4G connectivity, the latency of the internet will be under 1 millisecond in 5G connectivity. When 5G gets mainstreamed in 2021, it can be combined with cloud computing, smart phones and consoles for great breakthroughs in the gaming world.
(2) Mobile gaming:
The first choice gaming device, as per the State of Online Gaming 2020 survey, is the mobile phone and not consoles. The growing use of smart phones across the world, their higher replacement frequency, the growth in app downloads, escalating online games has thrown the spotlight back on smartphones.
Greater performance is the aim of SOCs or System On Chips manufacturers. Snapdragon 8150, Apple’s A12 BIONIC and Kirin 980 etc have improved processing and graphic capabilities. And enablement of Artificial Intelligence through AR SDKs in mobiles will see mobile phones as powerful as gaming consoles in 2021.
(3) Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality:
When virtual objects are overlapped on an already existing real world environment through glasses, headsets, heads-up-displays or smartphones, an Augmented reality experience is created. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a completely immersive encounter which enables the user to be transported from the real world to a fully digital environment through headsets with VR features.
Both AR and VR increases the immersiveness of gaming experience. The updated versions of VR headsets like HTC Vive Cosmos, Oculus Rift S and Sony Playstation VR, will be able to deliver life like 3D graphics in 2021. Magic Leap One and Microsoft HoloLens too will expand the possibilities of Virtual reality in gaming in the year 2021. VR games such as blown echo 2, Undead Citadel and Medal of Honour and their counterparts will set a new trend in 2021.
(4) Cloud gaming:
Cloud gaming has been around for a while now. Anticipating its huge possibilities, giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia have launched or will soon launch cloud enabled gaming platforms like Stadia, Luna, XCloud and GeForce Now respectively.
Since these games are run from high performance cloud servers, no waiting time for updates and no hardware acceleration is required. 2021 may witness the entry of Personal computers and gaming consoles into the cloud gaming fray as well. This means that anyone with even a low performance PC will still be able to play the latest version of any game in the future.
(5) Streaming revolution:
The traditional notions of gaming will undergo a significant change in 2021 as well. Twitch and Youtube are the largest platforms for video game live streaming. Game testing and game walkthroughs will also be carried out increasingly through streaming services in 2021.
According to Streamlabs, mobile gaming streaming too is on the rise. Facebook streaming too is entering the arena as a consequence. With streaming platforms like Huya Live and DouYu, China is expected to emerge in 2021 as a dominant player in game streaming.
(6) esports and Spectators:
Our traditional views regarding play and spectatorship in the gaming industry will change further in 2021. Studies in the gaming industry have revealed that the age bracket comprising the 18–25 year olds would prefer watching esports tournaments like Electronic Sports League or ESL than watch a traditional sports event.
Hence, it is expected that the population watching games will surpass the demographic playing games somewhere in 2021. Future developers must have the audience in the back of their mind while creating new games.
(7) Gender, Ethnic and Cultural diversity:
The struggle for female empowerment and minority representation across countries will start reflecting in video game development. Having diversity in character designs, staying clear of gender stereotypes and the presence of culturally diverse characters will definitely be a strength for any game.
Games like Overwatch and The Walking Dead have got it right. In Overwatch, the playable heroes have males, females and non-gendered options as well. But more changes will happen in 2021. Since the gaming industry is present internationally and panders to a larger and diverse audience, representation needs to be more diverse.
(8) Powerful consoles and Cross play:
The next generation gaming consoles containing two consoles built into one can be expected in 2021. While one console plays the traditional role the other will be exclusively used for streaming the video game online for play. Next gen VR and native 4K are being thought about by Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 for better quality graphics. The former will also include, likely, a dedicated audio chip for enhanced sound quality.
Full and partial cross platform support offered by consoles will expand in 2021. This is because of the popularity of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games like the Guild Wars 2 and The Genshin Impact.
(9) Other Honorable Mentions:
Tapping into the nostalgia factor, more remastered games with better graphics and increased features and nuances can be expected in 2021. Remastered titles of Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil 3 and Warcraft 3 Reforged are on the way.
Increased use of Photogrammetry, accurate particle and debris simulation, next generation hair, fur and cloud rendering and AI enabled neural networks will all enhance the photorealism of video games in 2021 and beyond.
Beyond 2021: Hungry For More!
As the world recovers from the pandemic in 2021, video games will promote virtual social engagement and virtual community building for isolated human beings bruised by lockdowns. The video game industry will drive technological disruption and lead the recovery of a world battered by coronavirus and economic recession in 2021. With their ability to create immersive worlds, gripping narrative and great artistic command, Juego Studios can harness the above trends adeptly & turn your game ideas into reality in 2021.