If you’re a gamer, whether a professional one, an occasional player or somewhere in between, you’ll know the industry changes quite often. There are always new developments and, in particular, trends that come and go over the years.
Although 2021 is continuing to be a time full of focus on a global pandemic, political and social unrest, and economic uncertainty, you can still spend time on your passion every week. It helps, too, to understand what some of the significant trends are in gaming for 2021.
Retro Hardware Revival
Handheld consoles used to be all the go until the 2000s when the PlayStation and Xbox took off. However, a trend growing right now is the return of retro hardware options, especially mini handheld consoles. Nintendo’s Switch product started off the movement and has been particularly popular. It showed other developers there’s still plenty of demand for dedicated handheld video game gadgets.
We’ve also already seen mini consoles come out from Sony and Sega, but 2021 brings others to the market. This list includes the Analogue Pocket, which runs the original Game Boy and related titles, and the Atari VCS, a PC/console hybrid that some have said makes them think of the “glory days” of video games. Plus, there’s a Playdate handheld product on the way, which is an indie-focused gadget that’s not only a mini-console but that apparently also has a winding arm!
Growth in Cloud Gaming
Cloud computing has been massive over the last five years or more, but now gaming is hopping on the trend too. Interest in cloud gaming has snowballed in recent months. It seems to provide many of the same pros as general online gaming, such as the breadth of choice and ability to gain access to new games without leaving home but bypasses many of the issues that arise with online offerings.
For example, there’s the download time and need for enough storage space. Plus, don’t forget the possibility that your hardware may not be adequate for the job, leading to performance problems in turn. Now, though, instead of buying and downloading a product, you can stream it. You get the opportunity to enjoy all the latest offerings without having to invest so much in them.
While cloud gaming means you run less risk of downloading content with viruses or other malware, do keep in mind that you still need to be security conscious when streaming products. Ensure you have set up a comprehensive security suite at home that provides you with premium software and real-time alerts to protect against a myriad of online hacker threats.
Looking to What Has Come Before
As mentioned above, the gaming industry is getting nostalgic and returning to its roots with handheld consoles’ resurgence. However, this focus on what has come before doesn’t stop there. Right now, there’s a rise in the number of remakes and reboots happening as developers create new versions of classic games.
For example, one of the top ten bestselling games of 2020 was a reboot of Crash Bandicoot, while Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 2 and 3 remakes also sold well. Remastered versions of games such as Command & Conquer and Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles have also been released in recent times.
Gaming companies are producing more interactive gaming formats based on convergence with TV and film, too. Not only are gamers getting stories and characters from popular screen creations (and vice versa), but there’s also more of a mix between industries. This likely comes as production companies look for additional revenue strands to help counter the aftermath of the global pandemic and production delays and shutdowns.
Take a look at the Netflix interactive projects surrounding the Black Mirror and Kimmy Schmidt television series. Netflix has more titles of this type on the way, too. Plus, there’s the coming Dr. Who: The Edge of Reality games launching this year. We’ll likely see more and more collaborations between games businesses and streaming services and other production companies that blend the big screen with gaming.
With diversity, equality, and inclusivity so the top of mind these days, it’s no wonder that gaming is finally starting to try to play catch up in this arena. Today, there is increasing representation in games. While for decades, big franchises, in particular, have been dominated by white, cisgender, able-bodied, male, and straight characters, developers are now adding a broader range of characters and making their productions better reflect society. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a start!
Gaming is an ever-changing industry that will keep you learning and trying new things. Keep an eye out for the above trends and other unfolding ones as you buy and play games in 2021.