Assuming the ESA is correct in their statistic that 58% of Americans play video games, then a significant number of you (more than half) will want to perk your ears (or eyes, I guess) up! The “video game addiction” trend is no longer a teen thing. Don’t believe me? How many people are addicted to the Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue, and the recently discontinued Flappy Bird? Just because a game is on a mobile device does not make it different than a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One game. The video game community has evolved faster than we ever could have imagined, and it’s mostly due to the rest of the technology world. TV’s, monitors, computer hardware, and even software are all advancing at a dramatic pace that it’s hard to wrap your mind around these products that used to be mere figments of the imagination. So, where are we headed? What does the future of gaming hold for us?
Breaking it Down – The Categories
The video game industry relies on 3 main categories of technological advancements:
Hardware – The physical components that allow those amazing graphics we’ve come to love
Software – The game itself is merely a piece of software. Code designed to throw graphics and pretty colors on the screen.
Innovation and Creativity – I know it’s not your average category, but those brilliant minds out there come up with the craziest ideas that are so simple, but effective. Without them, we’d be lost in 8-bit games. (Of course, for some people, this is a dream come true…)
Each category plays its own role in the advancement of gaming. But enough talk about what causes the future of gaming. What is it!?
Freaky Futuristic Helmets!
Has anyone seen the new Sony Wearable HDTV for $1,000? It’s kind of…creepy. Basically, it’s a pair of goggles that lets you view the equivalent of a 750” movie screen with 7.1 channel surround sound technology built in. So yeah, it’s a TV for your head. And what’s the future without 3D? In terms of gaming, it’s safe to say that the future holds a wireless connection between a wearable HDTV and your PS4, Xbox One, or PC gaming rig. It pretty much already does this, although it mentions nothing on PS4 and Xbox One connection capabilities.
This HDTV only goes up to 720p quality, or a resolution size of 1280×720; however, future plans of the device target 1080p and the infamous 4K quality. Don’t worry guys, I’ll just wait here for you to make that with my giant bank vault of cash to buy it.
Speaking of HDTV’s…
I’d kill (in a game of course) for one of those 65” Samsung 4K TV’s. They are now UHD (Ultra High Definition) TV’s, not just HD. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about technology it’s that the more letters in your acronym, the better, so I’m down for UHD. I was going to make another corny joke on how this TV is future-proof and they will not improve on it for quite a whole…but apparently Samsung has that listed as one of their features. The first feature to be exact. It’s running for about $4500, which I conveniently have right over here in this piggy bank. With 4K you can now see your bullets, the air cracking, and the individual blood cells flying out of your victim’s body. Okay, well maybe it isn’t that high definition, but it’s pretty close! Graphics on the video games are becoming increasingly better as time goes on, as the new game Killzone: Shadow Fall has clearly demonstrated. Along with Killzone is Battlefield 4 with its realistic gaming mechanics that can draw you in from across the room. I can only imagine the realism that is to come from games in terms of graphics, and apparently our UHD TV’s will be ready for it.
Consoles or PC?
Ah the console wars. I could just leave this section blank and let the console wars break out and tell you for me, but I won’t. It’s a matter of opinion really. However, the future does seem to be targeting consoles for one reason in particular: as consumers, we don’t have access to the hardware Sony and Microsoft do. They have deals and behind-the-scenes workarounds to get that brand new processor that hasn’t been released to the general public. That processor will find its way into your consoles. Of course, the PC gamers will get the hardware soon and by the time the next generation of consoles is released, the PC gamers’ hardware will be out-performing the consoles by a long-shot. Then back to square one.
As for which is visible in the future? Both. Although Steam, the leader in PC game distribution and sales, is releasing their own console, I don’t see an end of PC gaming anywhere soon. Computers will stay around for MANY years to come. As a matter of fact, I’d bet the only differences between consoles and PC gaming rigs are the games themselves and the hardware used to run them. The same console war will live on and the debates over which is best will continue. I look forward to it.
Digital, Online, Cloud, etc.
Whatever you want to call it, games will become all digital. The storage space of the hardware in your hard drives and the compression rate of software will make your consoles and PC rigs highly capable of holding all of your game content, including the save files. Actually, it seems as if Sony is leaning toward cloud technologies to host our games in the future. Instead of playing off of our own hard drive, the game is streamed from the cloud instead. Weird, huh? Although most of the “future of gaming” posts have to do with speculation and hope, this is one aspect that has hard evidence to back it up. The ESA pulled together some lovely research and organized it beautifully for us to view in their lovely orange charts on the previous years’ method of buying games. Take a look:
It’s safe to assume this trend will continue. It’s likely the total physical format of the coming years will be under 50% or close to it. Digital formatting is the way of the future.
Back to the Freaky Helmets
The Sony Wearable HDTV isn’t the only thing in the gaming industry. The Oculus Rift has become a widely popular trend in the gaming community. It’s not just because it looks cool either; the Oculus Rift is a part of this virtual reality trend that we used to see in 70’s and 80’s movies. The reason it’s so popular is because it puts you in the game, almost literally. To your brain, you will be there. The game responds to your head movements giving you the ultimate gaming experience of no longer having to move your thumb! I know, it’s really hard. But in all seriousness, it’s a cool technology and is no doubt the trend of the future. I expect a million imitations once it’s perfected and widely-used.
Who Uses TVs Anyway?
Projection technologies have returned and they are coming in with a bang. Projections and 4K are likely to be combined (they kind of already have for a measly price of $25,000) in the near future. The Xbox IllumiRoom is a new innovative technology that Microsoft has come up with to change over from wires coming out of your console to a projection on your wall. Who uses TVs anyway? In all honesty, I look forward to gaming in an IllumiRoom. The projector will give you the illusion that your game is coming through into your room. You know longer need just a TV; it projects extra background images behind and around your TV to further immerse you into the game.
The future of gaming holds a lot of things. To guarantee wouldn’t be realistic; however, it seems as if we’re leaning towards these headset/helmets like the Oculus Rift and projections. I predict the helmets turning out to be a widely popular accessory, such as the Kinect and PlayStation Eye. The actual game consoles themselves, on the other hand, will be 4K ready (and then some), and it will be projected onto your walls around your UHD TV with surround sound. To top it off, you won’t have discs; you’ll be loading and streaming through cloud services that, if I were to guess, will be a monthly fee on top of playing online. All speculation here though, but I can guarantee that these technologies aren’t far from being widely implemented.
Author Bio: Ryan Gavin is the owner of Rhetoric Reviews, a video game reviews website. He plays video games daily and is always researching upcoming technologies.