Now that gaming is a mainstream industry, rarely a month goes by without there being a big evolution or advancement, either in the technology that underpins the sector or within the games themselves. Gaming has advanced so much from its early days that it is now a billion-dollar global industry, worth $184 billion in 2017 alone and expected to increase to $300 billion by the year 2025.
There’s been a lot of noise recently about the impact that mobile gaming and cryptocurrency will likely to have on the industry as a whole. But what are those key trends that are currently shaping things in the PC market – and what does the future hold?
Open World Environments
The humble PC had always had the edge over consoles when it comes to running open-world environments. Naturally, several early PC titles flirted with giving us free rein to explore game environments without affecting the main storyline. However, it wasn’t until the widespread integration of 3D technology and the release of games like Grand Theft Auto 3 and Elder Scrolls: Morrowind that open-world gaming really took off.
Since then, we’ve had title after title trying to top each one that came before in terms of giving us intricate, story-driven side quests and missions to complete in these sandbox environments. From The Witcher 3 to last year’s Red Dead Redemption 2 (the side missions of which have not been without controversy) and upcoming releases, such as Ubisoft’s eagerly-anticipated Gods and Monsters are only going to continue the trend further and will likely give us colossal open-world environments in which to play and explore.
It would be impossible to discuss trends that are shaping the gaming industry without mentioning eSports, mainly since this is another market in which PC once again has the edge over consoles. The most popular games in eSports are the ones that are played on the PC, including titles like Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2) and League of Legends (LoL).
Fortnite may have set some new world records in terms of prize money earlier this year, but The International (a DotA tournament) is already shaping up to beat that, and the titles above are the ones that consistently draw in both the largest audiences and the biggest prizes.
Undoubtedly, eSports has a very bright future both for the leagues and start-ups involved in the professional side and eSports enthusiasts at home. Two of the most significant developments this year were Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch League opening up the first US-based eSports arena, and Drake dropping a few mill’ into the Players’ Lounge.
This online platform will enable gamers to play the usual suspects like Apex Legends and Fortnite while competing against each other for cash prizes – drawing many parallels with iGaming, which itself is considered to be an eSport in some circles.
In fact, the lines between competitive video gaming and competitive online poker and casino gaming are becoming more and more blurred. Prolific eSports stars like Elky regularly compete in online poker rooms, streaming their accomplishments alongside their latest LoL exploits on their Twitch channels, so this seems like a natural progression.
Gaming hit the cloud a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Streaming technology has had a massive impact on how we consume entertainment content – we stream more TV shows and movies than we watch on terrestrial TV and, in some areas of the US, we stream games more than we do those same TV shows and movies. Anyone can access The Cloud – the only real limiting factor is the strength and speed of your internet connection – so gaming on demand has exploded in popularity.
The latest thing to make a splash is the upcoming Google Stadia – a cloud gaming platform that will enable gamers to play any PC or console game on any nearby device (including mobile, tablets and laptops). There’s been some concern about the impact that Stadia could have on PC gaming, but just as the introduction of consoles didn’t kill off the PC back in the day, it’s highly unlikely that Stadia will. There will always be an appetite for the PC when it comes to gaming, inside and out the eSports arenas, so cloud-streaming services will give players more options in terms of how to play their favorite games.