What’s in Store for the Future of Online Gaming?

min read
BetMGM Jun 17, 2024, 10:08 AM

It’s that time of the year when Christmas decorations are dusted off and dragged out of storage. It also means New Year’s resolutions and thoughts about the year ahead are on the horizon – and the future of gaming, and online casino games in particular, is very much on that horizon. 

Below, we highlight some of the trends of future game technology that you’ll be glad you saw coming, from new ways to play casino games to mobile gaming trends. 

An Overview of Modern-Day Gaming

Gone are the days when gaming was a trivial pursuit. The online gaming and esports industries are booming, with millions of players getting involved and millions of dollars up for grabs. In 2019, right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a teenager from Pennsylvania by the name of Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf took home the top prize in the Fortnite World Cup. It was no paltry amount either. For taking the top spot in one of the world’s most esteemed esports tournaments held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, Kyle won an astonishing $3 million! That kind of winning puts a couple of holes in any theory which claims that gaming is a quaint hobby, a waste of time or a “lackluster” hobby. 

If you still need to be convinced of the importance of gaming in today’s world, you only need to take a look at DotA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2). Developed by Valve Corporation and easily one of the most popular multiplayer games on the market, the game attracts players from far and wide who play in what has become the largest prize pool of any single esports event. For the most recent edition of the DotA 2 tournament, The International 10, the pool amounted to a staggering $40,018,195, and The International 11 is set to at least match that jaw-dropping figure. 

It’s evident that colossal sums of money are being invested in the gaming industry because of the immense attention it attracts. Trends are reshaping the landscape of both the gaming industry as well as the execution and application of digital media. Read on to discover more about the latest exciting gaming trends and the future of gaming.

Macro Gaming Trends

Business

The business model of gaming has undergone a change that is as clear as daylight. The tendency for game releases to be executed as blockbuster launches through retail is fast becoming a thing of the past. The future of gaming now dictates that games will take on more of a service orientation in which starting a game is free, but as far as revenue generation is concerned, the length of engagement is key. 

In addition to running games as a service, the advent of the non-playing gaming viewer has heralded an age where games have become cross-screen franchises. Whether it’s TV, PC or mobile games, these cross-screen franchises cater not only to those who enjoy playing but also to those who find more pleasure in watching the action than participating in it. This has opened the doors to a whole host of new revenue-generating opportunities that appeal to different levels of gaming consumer involvement, inclusive of the development of new gaming concepts that enhance the viewing experience of players who prefer spectating.

Esports counter strike global offensive match held at Moscow Russia in a packed out arena with red lighting.

Technology

New gaming trends have emerged at the intersection of advancing technology/capabilities and the creativity of gamers. Cat videos and music videos now have to share a sizable portion of the attention they once monopolized on video platforms such as YouTube. The array of live streaming tools at the disposal of today’s gamers ranges from tap-of-a-button streaming to click-and-share gaming moments. This newfound capacity to give fellow gamers a front-row seat to gaming moments which once upon a time happened in isolation and behind closed doors, has given gaming trends a second (or is it third?) wind. 

Players are as ambitious about winning in the gaming arena as they are with the content they produce for millions of spectators. What’s more, the variety of video channels in existence has increased significantly, creating real opportunities for players to reach gamers the world over and build communities. Live streaming and delivering videos via social networks and handheld devices have also accelerated access to video content. The omnipresence of video content has also invaded TV screens, in the process forcing traditional TV broadcast content into the passenger seat as it makes way for digital video being hosted on the TV screen.

Consumers

Even though consumerism has always evolved, it has rarely, if ever, been a case of sudden revolution. Consumers on the younger end of the spectrum, and even some older gamers, no longer exist in a bubble. Content creation and sharing are part and parcel of the gaming experience, with many an hour being spent consuming or producing video content. 

In short, the conversation around the future of gaming has changed. Consider the case of Kyle Giersdorf, for example. Due to his success (and the subsequent success of many others), there is now a legitimate argument to be made for pursuing gaming as a career. Talented players and gifted content creators have become a new wave of celebrities thanks to the power of discovery enabled by the internet and social media platforms. 

The dynamics of gaming have changed from a developer-focused creation to a co-creation of the gaming experience in which the input of influential gamers is paramount, and the entertainment in gaming is driven by consumer content. Testament to the significance of consumer-to-consumer entertainment is the number of platforms that now cater specifically to gaming content, such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

Mobile Gaming Trends

Big Names Enter the Small Screen

Established franchise gaming titles have recognized the incredible appeal of handheld devices such as smartphones. While not a complete departure from console gaming, big franchise titles, such as Call of Duty, now offer equivalents for mobile phones. In most cases, the direction taken is one that seeks to replicate the big-screen experience on mobile screens. 

Pair of hands holding an iPhone in portrait mode playing Call of Duty with a white background.

However, there are still challenges to replicating console gaming’s simplicity and ease of interface. These are likely just temporary teething problems – and if not, then more opportunities to innovate. Either way, it’s hard to imagine that these franchises won’t cement themselves as the best mobile games in the very near future. 

Novelty Beats Being a Needle in a Haystack

Mobile games are a dime a dozen these days, with each claiming to be the crown jewel or at least one of the best mobile games available. For a developer, the process of coming to stand out among the crowd and stamping its authority as a unique – and more importantly – worthwhile offering can be a long and uphill struggle. Novelty seems to be the modus operandi for game releases that hope to stand apart. Commander Keen is an example of this. A far cry from being a cult classic, there are nonetheless a respectable few of us who remember the game from its 1990 release. The mobile application of this PC platformer will leverage classic side-scrolling gameplay and will be available on iOS and Android handheld devices. The beauty of this release is that it will be F2P (free to play) and, as such, an excellent case study of whether a lesser-known classic can be successfully resurrected as a modern-day F2P mobile game. Only time will tell.

Franchise Clout Could Help New Genres

Netmarble is a living example of what can be accomplished when franchises with proven clout are strategically launched, even in an overcrowded market. With titles such as Marvel Future Fight and Star Wars Heroes to its credit, Netmarble has proven its ability to secure franchises with global clout. However, the success of their execution with each release has more to do with strategy than the established names and titles of the mobile games. They have managed to construct complementary themes and gameplay mechanics for each of their well-recognized IPs. Using the recently released King of Fighters All-Stars as a prime example, we witnessed a transition in genre from traditional fighting game mechanics to side-scrolling “beat-em-up,” which is supported by the popularity of the franchise.

Streaming Still Sits on the Sidelines

If you’re an avid gamer, you’ve no doubt experienced the frustrating lag of more high-spec games or the gradual heating up of your handset as it works overtime to keep up with the demands of mobile gaming trends. At the moment, though, while 5G has been slowly rolling out globally since 2019, phone makers are preoccupied with local gaming as opposed to streaming. Unfortunately, the best phones on the market that are specifically designed to cope with the demands of the kind of mobile game that enhances your gaming experience cost an arm and a leg. They have features like the Black Shark 2’s liquid cooling system or the Red Magic 3’s shoulder touch buttons – not to mention incredibly cool names. 

The arrival of 5G and cloud gaming is slowly offsetting this preoccupation with the specs of the handset since faster internet speeds and reduced latency are transforming the quality of gaming. 

Faster and Finer Gameplay With 5G

We alluded to this above, but the introduction of 5G has enhanced mobile gaming considerably, allowing for smoother and more dynamic gameplay and visuals. Its gradual roll-out has led to the creation of a variety of relevant premium, personalized services for gamers, empowering them to transform their mobile gaming into an experience to rival one served up by any other size screen. New partnerships are forming between mobile operators and developers as well as cloud computing companies to further revolutionize the industry with the shared goal of providing a gaming experience unlike any other, right in the palm of your hand. Considering the leaps and bounds that have already been made in this realm, it’s exciting to contemplate what the future still has to offer. 

5G router attached to a metal pole outside with 5G printed on the router in blue.

Mobile Gaming vs Console Gaming

Over the last few years, the proportion of American consumers who play video games has remained relatively unchanged, sitting at around 70%. New statistics show that, as of 2022, 74% of US households have at least one family member who plays casino games online or who plays video games.  

The popularity of gaming remains consistent, but when we look more closely at the information gathered, there has been a shift at the surface, resulting in a change in many gamers’ preferred gaming platforms. The 13th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends reveals that, although consumers used to spend the bulk of their time playing on consoles or PCs, the time spent on mobile gaming has now eclipsed these traditional forms of gaming. Other results presented paint a clear picture of how people game today:

  • PC-dominant – The category of those who use laptops or desktops more than 50% of the time now accounts for 15% of the gaming population.
  • Mobile-dominant – The category of those who use smartphones or tablets more than 50% of the time accounts for 39% of the gaming population.
  • Console-dominant –  Those who prefer a console or handheld device more than 50% of the time now make up 23% of the gaming population.
  • Multiplatform players – Those who toggle between platforms or who use multiple devices, including a VR headset, make up 23% of the gaming population.

Ultimately, though, it’s clear that, regardless of a gamer’s preferred platform, the emphasis is always on the importance of a “larger than life” or, in some cases, a “true to life” experience. This is evident in the recent 16th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends report, which highlights how modern-day gaming experiences are blurring the lines between the virtual and the real world – in the process, becoming not just a means of entertainment but also a means for satisfying emotional needs. According to the report:

  • More than 75% of US gamers rely on some form of gaming to help them relax.
  • 60% claim that gaming has helped them through a difficult emotional time in the past.
  • 61% say that personalizing their game character or avatar helps them express themselves.
  • Finally, more than 50% agree that gaming makes it easier for them to stay connected to other people.

VR Games and AR Trends

Now and then, confusion can arise when trying to distinguish between VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). The difference between the two is that VR requires a specific area to become the digital environment in which the player gets immersed in playing a game. In contrast, AR can take place in any physical environment. Additionally, in the case of AR, digital objects that we can interact with appear within our physical surroundings. 

An illustration of a person made of neon lines using a virtual reality headset holding it with their left hand.

AR games are played on devices such as tablets, smartphones and other portable gaming systems. Despite the attractiveness of the 360-degree gaming experience VR games provide, VR is yet to gather notable traction among consumers. Several factors have contributed to preventing VR from getting a sturdy foothold in the gaming world. These include: 

  • Affordable, high-quality VR headsets.
  • A limited selection of promising VR games.
  • The tethering of cables from a premium headset to a PC or game console.

Conversely, reports on AR trends paint a more promising picture of its immediate future. Ericsson reported that three out of four gamers are interested in AR gaming, while one in three non-gamers also display an interest.  Consumer insights reported by Ericsson also revealed the following:

  • 43% of consumers are very interested in AR sports.
  • One in four consumers say that, within the next five years, they will use AR while exercising. 
  • Almost 4 out of 10 AR gamers agree that AR gaming will be more interesting with better and more immersive games, access to lower-cost AR glasses and better batteries.
  • Among current AR gamers, 6 out of 10 list immersive experience as a key driver for playing AR games.
  • Almost 50% of consumers agree that it would be particularly interesting if virtual objects remained where you “placed” them.
  • The promise of digitally decorating your room, creating a digital sculpture, or even designing a house triggers the minds of gamers and non-gamers alike.
  • Two-thirds of gamers say their AR usage will increase in the next 5 years.

In short, when considering AR gaming trends, the key to understanding what’s on the horizon may well reside in increasing the overlap between gaming and other AR activities. 

More Gaming Trends To Look Out For

Games Are the New Hangout

Remember how growing up, there was always that one place we could go where we could be sure to bump into someone we knew because it was “the” place to be? At some point, that place became Facebook, then Instagram and now games have very much taken the lead in terms of providing a platform for people to meet, hang out and spend time together. This is possible, in part, because of the multitude of multiplayer games and live dealer casino games now at our disposal. 

Consider Fortnite. Millions of players from around the world overshoot the breeze in squads and custom games. At times, the whole idea of competing even becomes secondary. What’s more, some gamers aren’t even there to participate; they’re there to hang out, watch and chat. Just a few years ago, League of Legends Finals eclipsed the traditionally gargantuan viewership of the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four combined by amassing 200 million viewers. Esports has officially become “the” place to be. 

A girl staring at her monitor playing an online game on her desktop PC using a lit up mouse and keyboard.

Ray tracing

Have you ever watched a classic action movie and been shocked by the difference in production quality? It’s enough to make you wonder how it never occurred to you before that the quality could, or perhaps should, be better. The same often happens in gaming when it comes to ever-evolving graphics technology. Ray tracing is on the tips of many tongues right now because it promises a fast-approaching upgrade in the quality of gaming visuals. 

In layman’s terms, ray tracing attempts to mimic and reproduce the dynamic way in which light works in the games we play and the dynamics of the way light plays in the real world. It’s the alternative to the cookie-cutter, pre-designed approach we’ve become accustomed to. Ray tracing is an online gaming trend that we awaited with bated breath because we knew that it would cause online games to become even more realistic and engaging. It essentially traces the path of simulated lights, and tracing millions of simulated lights bouncing off objects and how they interact with the properties of those objects makes for more realistic 3D rendering. The enhanced visuals are not without their cost, as they are remarkably resource-intensive and demand colossal amounts of computing power. Luckily, we’ve already started seeing its effects in action, with a number of 2022 releases incorporating this incredible technological advancement, including Cyberpunk 2077, Doom Eternal and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered.

The Age of the Influencer Continues

By now, you may also have heard the weeping and whinging of some influencers following the dwindling of Instagram’s organic reach – due, in large part, to the monumental success of the short video hosting platform TikTok. However, influencers are still “it” when it comes to driving attention, discovery and interaction. 

Online marketing budgets are being spread and diversified with effective impact by harnessing the followings and influence of popular personalities. To market games, popular gamers and early adopter communities are being tapped into social media channels such as Twitch which have become the feather in the cap of many online games marketers.

A girl sitting at her desk taking a selfie with her phone posing with a peace sign and winking.

Casino Gambling: A Fit for the Future

After this exploration of online gaming trends, it would be remiss if we did not also briefly consider how these trends might spill over and influence the world of online casino gaming and gambling. Here are a few implications that we can expect to witness coming to fruition in the very near future:

Keeping It Moving With Mobile

The key to reaching and producing quality for any audience is knowing where their attention lies. In today’s world, our hands and eyes are glued to the small screen, making mobile and social gaming a huge trend in online casino gaming. This has ushered in the development of a plethora of online casino games and mobile games to cater to this audience. Many games are F2P. Revenues and profits don’t come directly from these games, which are geared more toward enjoyment and engagement. However, to enhance your experience and unlock certain features, small fees often need to be paid.

Live Dealers

Can’t decide whether you want a purely digital experience or a purely land-based casino experience? Well, casinos far and wide have noticed your indecision. In many cases, it’s hard to let go of the feeling you get from engaging with a real dealer, but it’s also hard to leave the comfort of home when you’re… well … comfortable. A strong trend has emerged aimed at bringing you the live experience in the setting of your choice through live dealer casino games. With this innovation, you no longer have to choose between the authenticity of a casino experience and the comfort of your home!  

A dealer smiling with holographic cards floating in front of him on a purple poker table.

VR Casinos and VR Poker

VR is already a hot topic in the world of gaming, so it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into casino game conversations. The range of accessories and headsets is expanding and with it, quality and the eventual dropping of prices. This will make VR more accessible and eventually pave the way for virtual reality casinos. Net Entertainment has already given a demo of their Jack and the Beanstalk slot machine. It’s only a matter of time before other software providers follow suit.

Time for Smartwatches

After cornering the fitness industry, smartwatches set their sights on the gambling industry, too. You can now place bets via your smartwatch! This option is well and truly available alongside what has become the norm – using your smartphone or tablet to place bets via online casinos. The name of the game here is convenience and ease of access, which smartwatches have in spades.

Play Casino Games Online at Betmgm

The long and the short of all this is that the future of online gaming is bright – and it’s safe to say that BetMGM is at the forefront of developments. Whether you’re still learning how to play casino games or you’re already a gambling pro, our variety of online casino games will always exceed expectations and deliver truly unforgettable gaming experiences. 

Be sure to explore our ever-growing menu: play online slots for money, try your hand at casino table games, get social with our live dealer casino games and much more!

Go ahead and register when you’re ready to get started.  

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.