The PS5 is coming, but what form it will take continues to be an object of discussion. To truly predict the future, we would need a time machine, but I think we can all agree that trends can easily lead to standards. Looking at what the industry is doing as a whole gives us a unique and exciting opportunity to see where everyone's heads are at. This kind of knowledge translates to predictions that we can use.
So, without further delay, let's take a look at ten big trends in the gaming industry right now, and what they mean for the next generation of consoles.
Using 10 Trends to Predict the PS5
Keep in mind that these trends can suggest a number of things about the PS5. In some cases, it could affect how we'll play games on the PS5, or it could affect the types of games we'll see on the new console. In each case, these trends cause ripples in the gaming industry that lead to other effects. We can't rule any of them out. Let's take a look, shall we?
1. Virtual/Augmented Reality
Much like how Microsoft and Sony fought the Blu-ray and HD-DVD wars of old, the two are at it again. Sony has PlayStation VR (previous known as Project Morpheus), and Microsoft has the HoloLens. Both are devices you wear on your head that change the game entirely.
In the case of PlayStation VR we're looking at total immersion in another world. You see the game all around you, and you can look in any direction you like as if you were standing there. With the HoloLens, the world in front of you changes or molds to the game's needs.
What does this say for the future? Well, it shows that controllers may not be the gold standard for how we play games in the future. It shows that we may be using other devices (like a headset) to control our games. Whether or not that headset transports us to another world, or augments our own, remains to be seen.
2. Games Come to Life
With the rise of things like Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and now Lego Dimensions, it's clear that games are extending beyond just a disc. We're seeing toys that interact with the games more so than ever. It's a 3 billion dollar industry now and still counting. Something that makes this much money isn't going anywhere.
On top of this, we're also seeing cross-media experiments. Take the Defiance game for example. While the show has since been canceled, the online game ran parallel to the show while it was running. Projects like these that bridge the gap between television and games are starting to emerge as well.
From a business standpoint, this increases brand exposure. From a gaming standpoint, it brings the games out into our daily lives and incorporates them into our world. Don't be surprised if you start interacting with your movies or television in shows on the PS5, or playing content that runs parallel to them.
3. Let's Plays and Live Streaming
While I'm not a big fan of watching someone else play a game instead of playing it myself, I can see the appeal of YouTube and Twitch for streaming and recording gameplay, especially if they have fun or interesting commentary. More and more indie games (like Five Nights at Freddy's) are being used as a form of entertainment for non-gamers and gamers alike.
YouTubers as they are known, have gained celebrity status, along with streamers on Twitch. Developers are becoming more aware and are starting to focus on experiences that make for great entertainment online when people are watching. The PS4 encourages this with the ability to share and stream onto Twitch and YouTube. This kind of social aspect is something that people are catching onto.
The PS5 will most likely expand on this concept, bringing more options for streaming and sharing experiences. More sites, more capabilities, and probably more games designed from the ground up to have a social approach.
4. The Rise of Community-Driven Games
It all began with a little site called Kickstarter, and now it has grown into a trend that is bleeding over to the consoles. The aforementioned site allowed developers to seek funding from members of the community through crowd-funding campaigns. Instead of pitching developers, they were pitching the players.
Kind of like communism, it sounded good paper. Campaigns have been hit and miss through this service. Some games came through without a hitch, while others have failed to hit their goal, or worse, ran out of money and had to ask for more.
On top of this, the Steam has introduced Early Access and Microsoft has brought out the Xbox Preview. Both of these programs allow developers to put their games out there for early purchase in an unfinished form. People who buy them can suggest ways to improve the title before the game releases.
It’s a nice thought, but again, there have been issues where games haven’t been finished or were just left to rot. It’s not a common thing, but it has happened.That being said, developers are seeking to be more transparent, offering ways for the community to be involved in the development of the game.
Hi-Rez Studios, the developers of Vlambeer, streamed their entire development process online, bringing great feedback and public knowledge of their game to the forefront. Each of the 12,000+ viewers also paid a monthly fee to be part of the stream, which brought in more revenue for the company.
5. Creation in the Hands of Players
Since the dawn of games like Minecraft, players have been given more and more control over the games they play. With games like Little Big Planet, a lot of the content people play online isn’t made by the developers, but by other people. This kind of crowd-sourced content is becoming more and more popular as it ties into some of the other trends by creating a social aspect of players sharing their creations.
Plenty of games have done this, but it seems like it's becoming a standard feature. It started with Little Big Planet focusing almost entirely on created content, and then it blossomed into a feature on games like Trials Evolution, Sound Shapes, and tons of other titles. Putting the power in the hands of the gamers isn't something new though.
If we look at PC games, mods have been around for a while, but with the release of Fallout 4 on PS4, Bethesda announced that mods would be coming to consoles for the first time ever. Player created content has often times surpassed what the developers have done, and in the case of PC mods, many glitches and issues with games have been fixed through a mod.
This means that PS5 may offer a lot more creative options for players. Games may come standard with modding tools and level designers that players can use to continue the experience past what was already there. Games based entirely on creation like Minecraft may also find their way into the fold, but hopefully the balance will remain between user and developer created experiences.
6. Indies Take the Spotlight
Both Xbox and PlayStation have made it incredibly easy for small independent developers (indies) to publish their own games. With engines like Unity offering cheap options for game development, we’ve seen some of the most creative and mind-bending games this generation that we’ve ever seen.
You think of games like No Man’s Sky, Journey, The Witness, and Gone Home, and you have to marvel at how far indie games have come. What used to be extremely small, no-name titles, are now features events at the biggest press conference events.
New ideas are coming forth, the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Name a game like SOMA, or something even close to the profound piece that was Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Normally indie games wouldn’t be caught dead on a console, but with how readily the industry is willing to receive them, we have been benefiting from the results.
In terms of the future, a trend like this can only mean good things for gamers. While publishers aren’t going anywhere, the need for them is slowly dwindling as indies are finding other ways to get the funding they need. It’s not a perfect system, but the exposure of smaller studios is a move in the right direction for sure.
7. Free to Play Games on the Rise
The idea of a game as an ever-evolving product or service that you continuously pay for is something that people are getting used to faster than ever. The PS4 offers several free to play games that allow you to get into the action with zero cost. To enhance your progress in the game, or play premium content, they charge you small costs at a time.
This has long been a practice on PC and mobile, but with consoles being swept into the craze, it’s hard to believe this trend will disappear by the time PS5 is released. Take a look at Destiny for example. While not free to play, the game is a service that evolves and changes with regular releases of DLC and a new yearly release each year.
Activision plans to keep Destiny around for ten years, so you best believe they will want it on PS5. The problem with a game like this though, was that the first year really felt like a beta. The second major release, The Taken King, updated the game to a point where it felt more full and finished.
With MMORPG games like World of Warcraft, we pay each month for the ability to continue playing the game and receiving updates.This service-style approach makes games feel more like something you subscribe to, than something you purchase once and never pay for again.
8. Mobile Games on the Rise
There’s a difference between mobile games and mobile gaming. The difference of course being the device that you’re using. Portable systems like the PSP and the PS Vita never really found the success they deserved. A system like Nintendo’s 3DS is fine because it can leverage exclusives like Mario and Zelda that appeal to the broad public.
The real king/queen of this entire argument is the smartphone. These little connected devices are responsible for bring free to play apps and paid games to a mobile device that we have practically attached to our hands. It’s brilliant because unlike a portable gaming system, we take our phones with us everywhere we go.
The success of games like Angry Birds was only the beginning though. Other games like Clash of Clans are raking in serious dough. Even something as simple as Candy Crush promoted Activision to spend $5.9 billion just to buyout the developers.
Activision is the largest publishers in the world, so if they are investing in mobile gaming like Candy Crush, then it’s a sign that the times are changing. Mobile gaming is the one place where the monster publisher doesn’t have a major presence.
While I don’t want to see consoles and gaming as we know it go anywhere, it’s possible that we’ll see a stronger combination of our social lives (phones and texting) and our games.
9. eSports Rivals Traditional Sports
A relatively new term, “eSports” refers to gaming tournaments with titles like Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) and League of Legends (LOL). These games are competitive by nature, and countries around the world have teams that meet to fight and win real cash prizes for their efforts. We’re not talking a couple hundred dollars either, try a couple million.
Thus far, these tournaments are streamed online through YouTube and Twitch for free, but could that change in the future? There’s a lot of money to be made here, and mainstream sports have been doing it for years.
We’ve already found out that YouTube isn’t above charging for premium content with the announcement of YouTube Red, so what’s to stop publishers from demanding that these tournaments with their games be paid events?
The signs are here, Twitch already offers the option to charge for channel access, and Major League Gaming also offers subscription packages for its eSports streams. If Activision and EA start demanding a cut, we’ll be paying for eSports the same way we do regular ones.
In terms of PS5, this means that the eSports scene might grow into something you can stream to your console. It could also mean that more skillful players have an opportunity to make a career as a celebrity in this field. If athletes can do it, why not gamers?
10. Games for the Aging Generation
It’s no secret that games have the ability to affect us on a deep, emotional level. One could even argue that they do so better than films by giving us an experience that demands interaction. The current generation of gamers won’t stop when they get older just because their reflexes aren’t what they used to be.
Gamers are gamers, as I like to say, “From the womb to the tomb.” What happens when our generation gets older and can’t keep up with the KDR fiends on Call of Duty? Known as silver gamers, science is already looking at ways to make experiences for the aging generation.
at Develop, cyber-psychologist Berni Good said in his talk that “We know that people’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviours are influenced by real, imagined, or even the implied presence of ‘others’ and, even if that’s with non-player characters in video games.”
He went on to describe the way that eudaemonics (the theory of being happy) can be applied to games, saying “As psychologists, we are beginning to understand that eudaemonics can be realized with engagement and immersion on video game play. Research on character identification suggests that audiences regularly imagine being the character, and research around parasocial experience suggests that people react to characters as if they were real, physical beings.”
This suggests that there could be a market for older players in the form of games that provide cooperative experiences with younger relatives. In one sense, Good argues that older players can assist with ethical and moral choices in games that offer them because they have more emotional intelligence than other players.
On the other hand, games would allow older players the ability to pursue hobbies that they can’t participate in anymore because of physical restraints. “This is where video games can really help,” Good said, “older people can still get a sense of purpose, they can relate to others in a meaningful way.”
What this means for PS5 is the potential to use something as immersive as virtual reality as a tool for elderly players. It can transport them to those places they can’t visit anymore, and give them those experiences that they were never able to have. This extends beyond elderly people. Virtual reality allows even the handicapped to experience things they never can, given their current situation.
Games have always been a force for good, but with the rise of technology like this, we can give people realistic experiences they could never have in the real world otherwise. That’s the power of gaming and the power that PS5 will offer.
Over to You
These trends point to a bright and beautiful future for gaming. There are so many ideas and changes happening right now that can lead to a beautiful future for the PS5. Some things are better than others, but the positives outweigh the negatives.
What trends do you think will evolve onto the PS5? Share your thoughts and your predictions in the comments below!