Gaming is a booming industry in the United States and many parts of the world and is growing at an impressive rate. From arcade gaming in the 60’s, the arrival of console and PC games from the 1970s to the sudden increase in mobile games in recent years, the US has led the way for gaming opportunities and trends over the decades.
At present there are almost 54 million online gamers in the country and at least 190 million mobile game players. While the largest group of gamers is those aged between 35 and 44, people of all ages enjoy gaming as a form of entertainment, social interaction and skill development.
As such a rapidly growing and successful industry, the future of gaming is full of exciting new releases, innovative game technologies and new ways of playing the games we love.
At the forefront of gaming technology innovation is artificial intelligence (AI), once only alluded to in science fiction, artificial intelligence is now very real and is shaping the game experiences we will have in the future.
The rise of artificial intelligence
One way in which AI is already being utilized by game developers is through the creation of non-player characters. Developers use this technology to programme non-player characters so that they can interact with players in the game.
In recent years, more of these non-player characters have been programmed with behaviour trees that allow them to complete more complex decision making processes and act in ways that seem more compatible with human behaviours. However, non-player characters are of course limited by the code they are written in.
In future game development, advanced artificial intelligence may give game developers the opportunity to create more life-like characters. It could even give non-player characters a mind of their own and allow them to carry out unanticipated behaviours, creating a more real and exciting experience for gamers.
Artificial intelligence is also sometimes used in content creation for new games, this is a technique called procedural content generation and has already been used in games such as No Man’s Sky. At present, there are limitations on how much designers can rely on AI to generate content, as they usually require refinement and tweaking from a human developer.
Perhaps in the years to come we will see entire games created through the use of advanced artificial intelligence. Although this will only be effective if the AI can produce high quality and relevant content consistently, which it sometimes fails to do at present.
Might we be using gaming subscription services, like we do now for TV and movies?
Gaming is a highly competitive industry and with such fierce competition, many games companies are racing to provide consumers with a vast range of games at a high quality for them to enjoy. The online casino game industry is an example of how this can be achieved.
Websites like Draftkings online casino often have a huge selection, from poker and blackjack to slots and roulette, there is a large amount of choice to suit all players’ tastes. The real benefit of these sites is that all the games players could wish to play are in the same place, avoiding the inconvenience of switching disks or logging into different accounts.
So far, when it comes to video gaming subscription services there have been some successes and some definite failures. Take the Google Stadia for example, the platform had very limited interest due to the lack of game choice and limited number of features.
On the other hand, services like the Xbox Pass and PS Now are popular with gamers. These allow players to enjoy older games as well as trying out newer releases.
At the moment these subscription services are used as more of an add on product, with most players also still enjoying their disk games and digital downloads. However, as we have seen with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney +, subscription services are slowly taking over, and it is likely that this trend will be seen within the gaming market.
Virtual reality (VR) gaming will be developed further
Lastly, one thing that is certain is that virtual reality gaming will hold a bigger share of the market in the years to come. This technology is improving all the time and people of all ages, young and old, are beginning to embrace it.
Virtual reality really started to gain some traction in the mainstream media following the release of the Oculus headset. The first consumer version of the headset, the Oculus Rift, came out in 2016 and received plenty of positive reviews.
This technology is arguably still in its infancy as there are many improvements that can be made to motion tracking, eye tracking and other features in this technology to help create a much more immersive and real-life experience.
These are just a few technologies and trends that we are likely to see in the future of the gaming industry. As the market continues to grow, we can expect developers to continue to bring out new ideas and innovations to captivate players.