Digital gaming has gone from strength to strength over the past decade to the point where the old-school method of purchasing and loading a physical video game disk is practically obsolete. In this hyper-connected world, gamers want instant access to the latest and greatest gaming experiences, and where better to find them than in the digital realm?
Whether it’s cloud gaming, mobile gaming, playing immersive casino games, or diving into the Metaverse, digital gaming trends have radically reshaped everything about this Big Tech industry. And, while gaming sectors are no stranger to innovation, there are some developments that are staying on top of more than others.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s hot in digital gaming here in autumn/winter 2023 — particularly those key trends with staying power.
The Next Next-Gen Consoles
Although they were released almost three years ago now, it seems like we’ve only just gotten to grips with the power of the 21st century’s next-gen consoles: Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series. Nothing stays new for long in gaming, however, and word is already out about the next line of next-gen consoles that Microsoft is cooking up.
Codenamed Brooklin, the 2024 refresh of the Series X sees Microsoft completely dispense with a disk drive. Instead, the console features a sleek, cylindrical desk with a USB-C front port, as well as a brand new “immersive controller”. According to The Verge, which first broke the news of the tech giant’s radical new direction for its flagship console, the new Series X also possesses 2TB of storage, making it ideal for digital gaming.
That’s not all, however. Within the next five years, we might just see the company release a “hybrid” console that is fully equipped with the Xbox Cloud Gaming platform. According to yet more leaked documents discovered by The Verge, the company has a vision to develop “a next-generation hybrid game platform” that would leverage the “combined power” of bleeding edge hardware with the cloud to “deliver entire new classes of game experiences”.
Levelling up iGaming
iGaming is a formidable gaming sector in its own right, currently valued at over $90 billion. The expansion into US markets that occurred during the end of the last decade has seen it become more mainstream than ever, and now, it’s the turn of decentralized technologies to take it to the next level.
Incumbent iGaming operators like PokerStars Casino have already done a lot to democratize online casino and real-money gaming. Alongside providing an array of real-money blackjack variants on its platform, it also educates users on the specific tactics needed for success at the virtual tables. This has helped to make the game as a whole much more approachable for a wider demographic of players.
While gamers will continue to enjoy wagering experiences of this ilk, a new path is opening up that sees the fusion of crypto casino gaming with live streaming. Decentralized currencies and blockchain technology are making their mark on several gaming markets, and iGaming is no exception.
What kind of article about the hottest trends in digital gaming would this be without covering the metaverse? Much more than just a buzzword or a marketing ploy by a certain social media giant, the metaverse is becoming increasingly important as a gaming reality with each passing month. Players have already begun to explore the vast possibilities offered by interconnected digital realms, with blockchain games like WHAT and WHAT laying the foundations for what’s to come as the decade continues to play out.
Extended Reality (XR) is the staple of the metaverse, and it imbues gaming experiences with even greater levels of immersion. By combining virtual reality, augmented reality, and haptic technologies, XR transports players directly into a video game’s virtual universe with hyper-real graphics and improved sensory feedback.
Another important aspect of the metaverse for gaming is its ability to initiate and support player-driven economies. The traditional pay-to-play business model utilized by gaming brands across the world may never fully be replaced, but the play-to-earn basis of the GameFi sector nevertheless enables players to truly own their in-game assets. Combined with the virtual reality aspects of the Metaverse, we could see gamers being given opportunities to create and generate digital assets with real-world value, too.