What’s in Store for the Future of Online Gaming

It’s that time of the year where Christmas decorations are being dusted off and dragged out of storage. It also means New Year’s resolutions and thoughts of the year ahead are on the horizon – the future of gaming is on our minds. Let’s look at some of the trends of future game technology you’ll be glad you saw coming.

Gone are the days where gaming was a trivial pastime; online gaming and esports has become a booming industry where millions of players get involved and millions of dollars can be won. This year, 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 the esports tournament held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, Kyle won an astonishing $3 million. $3 million puts a few holes in any theory that claims gaming is a waste of time or lackluster hobby.

Group of boys and girls playing a game together on a desktop PC each with mouse, keyboard and headsets.
If you still need convincing of the importance of gaming in today’s world, you only need to look over 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 at a single esports event. The prize pool for the most recent edition of the DotA 2 tournament, The International 9, actually broke the $30 million mark.

Colossal sums of money are being invested in the gaming industry because of the widespread acknowledgement of the attention it garners. Trends are reshaping the landscape of not only the gaming industry, but the execution and application of digital media too. Read on to discover more on the exciting gaming trends and future of gaming.

Macro Gaming Trends

Business

The business model of gaming has witnessed a change that is as clear as night and day. 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 where starting a game is free but where revenue generation is concerned, the length of engagement time is the key.

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

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

Technology

New gaming trends have emerged where advancing technology and capabilities have met the creativity of today’s gamers. Cat videos, as well as music videos, now have to share a sizable portion of the attention they once monopolized on video platforms like 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 ability to give fellow gamers a front-row seat to gaming moments that once upon a time happened in isolation and behind closed doors has given gaming trends their second and third wind. Players are equally as ambitious about winning in the gaming arena as they are with the content they can produce for millions of watchers.

What’s more, the variety of video channels in existence has increased significantly, giving rise to tangible opportunities for players to reach gamers the world over and build communities. Live streams and video content via social networks and handheld devices has also accelerated access to video content. The omnipresence of video content has invaded TV screens too, simultaneously forcing traditional TV broadcast content into the passenger seat as it makes way for digital video hosted on the TV screen.

Consumers

Since the dawn of time, consumers have always gradually evolved; it rarely, if ever, has 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 is part and parcel of the gaming experience with many an hour being spent consuming or producing video content. The conversation around the future of gaming has changed. Take Kyle Giersdorf, for example, there is now a legitimate argument for pursuing gaming as a career. Talented players and gifted content creators have become the society’s 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 point of view to a co-creation of the gaming experience where the input of influential gamers is paramount and the entertainment in gaming is driven by consumer content. A testament to the significance of consumer-to-consumer entertainment is the number of platforms in existence that cater 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 draw of attention that handheld devices like smartphones have. While not a complete departure from console gaming, the big franchise titles such as Call of Duty now have equivalents for mobile games. In most cases, the direction taken is one that seeks to mimic the experience of bigger screens shrunken for enjoyment on mobile screens.

Pair of hands holding an iPhone in portrait mode playing Call of Duty with a white background.
There are still challenges being faced for replicating the simplicity and ease of use of console gaming’s interface but these will likely just be temporary teething problems, if not just more opportunities to innovate. Either way, it’s hard to imagine that these franchises won’t cement themselves as the best mobile games very soon.

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. As a developer, standing out among the crowd and stamping your authority as a unique – and more importantly – worthwhile offering, can be an uphill struggle. Novelty seems to be the modus operandi for game releases that hope to stand apart. Commander Keen is an example of such an endeavor. It’s a far cry from being a cult classic but there are a respectable few of us who might 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 it will be F2P (free to play) and so will be an excellent case study of whether a lesser-known classic can be resurrected successfully 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 like 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 witness 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 experienced the frustrating lag during gameplay 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, 5G still looms on the horizon, phone-makers are preoccupied with local gaming as opposed to streaming. The best phones on the market which are specifically designed to cope with the demands of the best mobile games to enhance your gaming experience, unfortunately, cost an arm and a leg. They possess features like the Black Shark 2’s liquid cooling system or the Red Magic 3’s shoulder touch buttons, not to mention the incredibly cool names.

The arrival of 5G and cloud gaming would offset this preoccupation with the specs of the handsets since the faster internet speeds and reduced latency would transform the quality of gaming. However, we might have to wait a while to reap such benefits as 5G requires considerable infrastructure, and the 5G-compatible devices will undoubtedly come with price tags big enough to take anyone’s breath away.

Faster and Finer Gameplay with 5G

We alluded to this just above but the introduction of 5G would enhance mobile gaming considerably, allowing for smoother and more dynamic gameplay and visuals. Mobile gaming would be transformed into truly online gaming. When this day finally arrives, the importance and dependence on hardware specifications will pale in comparison to today’s times but thankfully the standard of mobile games today will pale in comparison to what the future 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%. However, when we look more closely, there has been a shift at the surface resulting in a change in the preferred gaming platform. The 13th edition of the Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends revealed that although consumers used to spend the bulk of their time playing on consoles or PCs, time spent mobile gaming has now eclipsed these traditional forms of gaming.

The results from the 13th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends paint a clear picture of how people game today:

  • PC-dominant – Those who use laptops or desktops more than 50% of the time amounts to 15% of the gaming population.
  • Mobile-dominant – Those who use smartphones or tablets more than 50% of the time amounts to 39% of the gaming population.
  • Console-dominant – Those a console or handheld device more than 50% of the time amounts to 23% of the gaming population.
  • Multiplatform player – Those who toggle between platforms and use multiple devices, including VR headset amounts to 23% of the gaming population.

VR Games and AR trends

Now and then, confusion can arise when trying to distinguish the difference between VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). The difference between the two is that VR requires a set area to become the digital environment in which a player gets immersed to play a game whereas AR, by contrast, takes place in any physical surroundings. Furthermore, in the case of AR, digital objects that we can interact with then appear within our physical surroundings in the case of AR. AR games are played on devices such as tablets, smartphones and other portable gaming systems.

Despite the attractiveness and availability of a 360-degree gaming experience that VR games provide, VR is still yet to gather notable traction among consumers. There are several factors that have played a role in preventing VR from getting a sturdy foothold in the gaming world. The factors include:

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

Conversely, reports on AR trends paint a more promising picture for the more immediate future of augmented reality. Ericsson reported that three out of four gamers are interested in AR gaming while one in three non-gamers also display an interest.

An illustration of a person made of neon lines using a virtual reality headset holding it with their left hand.
Consumer insights reports from Ericsson also revealed the following:

  • 43% of consumers are very interested in AR sports
  • 1 in 4 consumers say they will use AR when exercising in the next 5 years
  • 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 they will increase AR usage in the next 5 years

All in all, when considering AR gaming trends, the key to understanding what lies on the horizon may rest in increasing the overlap between gaming and other activities in AR.

More Gaming Trends to Look Out For

Games Are the New Hangout Spot

Remember how growing up, there was always that one place we could go to and be sure to bump into someone you know because it was the place to be. At some point that became Facebook then Instagram and now games have very much provided a platform for us to meet, hang out, and spend time on. This is particularly possible because of the multitude of multiplayer games and online games at our disposal now. For example, look at Fortnite. Millions of players from the globe overshoot the breeze in squads and custom games. The whole idea of competing even becomes secondary at times.

What’s more, some gamers aren’t even there to participate; they’re there to hang out, watch and chat. Just a year 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 is officially 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 then 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 is always happening in gaming with ever-evolving graphics technology.

Ray tracing is on the tips of many tongues right now because it represents a fast approaching upgrade in the quality of gaming visuals. In layman’s terms, raytracing attempts to mimic and reproduce the dynamic way in which light works in the real world in the games we play. It’s the alternative to the cookie-cutter, pre-designed approach we may be accustomed to. Ray tracing is an online gaming trend that we await with bated breath because online games will become even more realistic and engaging.

Ray tracing traces the path of simulated lights, and by tracing millions of simulated lights bouncing off objects and how they interact with the properties of those objects, it makes for a 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.

The Age of the Influencer Continues

By now, you might have heard the weeping and whinging of some influencers following the dwindling of Instagram’s organic reach. It’s a thing. However, influencers are still the “it” thing 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. Popular gamers and early adopter communities are being tapped into to market games. Social media channels like Twitch 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.

Gender Gap Elimination

An underwhelming amount of research has been conducted or is available concerning the much-needed elimination of the gender gap in gaming. This extends as far as the decisions being made surrounding gaming, representation, pay gap, and even the need for a crackdown on online game bullying or abuse.

Thankfully, while research may be lacking the conversation and attention is not altogether absent. Ewa Bakun, Head of Content at Clarion Events wrote a great article surrounding the gender gap following her attendance of the presentation delivered by Jan Jones of Caesar Entertainment at the 16th International Conference on Gambling and Risk-Taking.

Positive statistics and information that came out of that presentation included:

  • That while there is little research on women leadership in gaming, out of the group of the largest operators and suppliers in the USA, only MGM Resorts International has a board comprising at least 30% female directors.
  • There are gaming organisations who recognize the importance of eliminating the gender gap and have begun implementing specific policies to make the minimization of the gap a reality: NetEnt have their 50/50 goal to be achieved by 2020, Gamesys, at the recent GamCrowd conference at the Hippodrome, talked about their initiatives to encourage men to play a more active role in raising families as a way to increase female participation in business.

Casino Gambling – A Fit For the Future

It would be remiss if we did not, after exploring online gaming trends, 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 rests. 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 towards 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. 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. There is now a strong trend towards bringing you the live experience in the setting of your choice through online games and live dealers. You won’t have to sacrifice the authenticity of your casino experience or the peace that comes with being at 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 so will quality alongside the eventual dropping of prices. This will make VR more accessible and available to 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

Smartwatches have already cornered the fitness industry and now they have their eyes set on the gambling industry. 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.

Keep in Touch With the Future of Casino Games

In 2017, Nielsen reported that 64% of the general U.S. population are gamers. With that in mind and a dedication to providing the best platform for quality gambling and gaming, you can rest assured that BetMGM is dedicated to keeping up with the future of gaming.

Whether you prefer a night of glitz and glamour in a brick-and-mortar casino or would rather play casino games online, we have casino games to cater to you. From poker to sports betting, we have you covered.

Register online today to try your luck or to put in some extra time to brush up and hone your skills to improve your chances of winning big.