As of late, I’ve been trying to ponder just where gaming is going to be in twenty years. I’d often thought of gaming as this rapidly changing landscape, one of disruptive ideas, new technologies and countless innovations. And then I saw an image doing the rounds comparing 2017 and 1997, PlayStation platforms in particular. Two decades separate them, yet in ‘97 we had Crash 2, Parappa the Rapper, Tekken 2, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, Wipeout XL and Hot Shots Golf. 7,300 days later we have the Crash Trilogy, Parappa the Rapper Remastered, Tekken 7, Resident Evil 7, Gran Turismo Sport, Wipeout: Omega Collection and Everybody’s Golf. Has history truly repeated itself?
Of course not. Gaming has changed in untold ways, even if some of the same beloved franchises still remain. We now buy our games instantly on our phones, pumped invisibly through the ether and appearing on our PCs. We have vast 3D open-worlds, insanely deep sandboxes, endless post-launch support, instant access to a back catalogue of gaming’s entire history, VR, impressive AI and incredible social experiences. Where gaming was often a lone pastime in 1997, in 2017 it’s entirely interconnected. A web of games, videos, mods and online tournaments. At times it can feel like it changes slowly, and sometimes for the worse, but games have been a hotbed of activity during the past few decades.
All of this got me thinking - what will gaming be like in 20 years’ time? Worryingly I’ll (hopefully) be 49, but I struggle to imagine I won’t still be playing away. But what will I be playing in 2037, and how will I be playing it?
My first assumption is that the traditional platform structure we have today will be gone. Games will be ubiquitous, the hardware so advanced that we don’t need platform holders selling us new tech. It becomes less about the hardware, more about the games themselves, in the same manner that most of us don’t obsess over what Blu-Ray player we’re using to watch movies or the paper stock used for our favourite books , we just watch the movie or read the novel, enjoying them on their own merits rather than obsessing over the medium the content is delivered.
Once anyone can play anything though, it becomes an incredible fight for users’ time.
We only have so many hours in a day, and even less that can be dedicated to entertainment. Developers and publishers are going to have to do everything in their power to keep gamers playing their titles rather than anyone else's, and also monetising them in a way that makes sense. The current trend of consistent post launch support funded by additional microtransactions doesn’t look as if it’s going anywhere.
The other aspect I think (and hope) we'll see is huge advancements in game AI. Artificial intelligence in games has been dormant for the best part of a decade now, with few notable advances. Outside of gaming, we’re seeing monumental changes for AI capabilities, and this surely has to trickle down to deliver increasingly believable worlds, filled with dynamic conversations and convincingly living, breathing characters. Combine this with multiplayer elements and you have a potent combination.
Anyway, I could go endlessly about where I see gaming going, but I’ll leave it up to you to share your thoughts. How do you see the gaming world changing over the next two decades? What will be the major technological advances? Let us know!