What The Future Of Gaming Looks Like
The gaming industry, and gamers alike, are waiting for that next big thing to come along. That next big innovation that will transform the face of gaming as we know it. Each year the same big names roll out new iterations of existing products, and sure, these are nice, but they aren’t in any danger of reinventing the wheel. Aside from Nintendo, who have been trend makers over the years with the Wii and the (not so hot yet) Wii U, things are a little stale.
Game makers are in this state of flux because there is big bucks to be made selling games to last-gen console users. Early adopter gamers who go out and buy a next-gen product will typically suffer a big time lag before game makers commit to releasing their major titles to a new platform. So, gamers end up enduring the slow release of new hardware and games.
What is the next new gaming experience?
Virtual Reality Headsets
This is the most exciting space that everyone is talking about right now, virtual reality gaming. It’s not just creating hype in the gaming world, but the tech sector as a whole. VR is not a new concept, but no one has mastered it or brought a worthy product to market yet, until now that is.
Oculus Rift is the new kid on the block of VR gaming. The Rift is wired for gaming with your PC. The Kickstarter funded headset was recently purchased by Facebook for $2 billion. Feedback from the E3 2014 (industry gaming) show was that everyone from industry heavyweights down to your regular nerd were pumped after using it. Some used the analogy that it was like using an iPhone for the first time. Some criticisms of the headset were that it can make you nauseous due to the strong effect the peripherals have on the experience.
There are other big players in VR, one is GameFace Labs. Their headset is a wireless unit running off android VR operating system. GameFace have positioned themselves as a more flexible option due to their open VR-based user interface. This allows other hardware, including phones, to integrate into the device.
Previously VR gaming was more of an arcade like, and crappy experience, that most of us have tried but not rated. The main point is that these companies are kicking down new doors and gamers should be very impressed with the huge leap forward that VR gaming will provide.
Augmented Reality Gaming
Virtual reality creates a new world for players to explore, augmented reality overlays visuals and information into the real world all around us. Most people are familiar with, or know of Google Glass, this uses augmented reality. Imagine playing games around your house with graphics overlaid on real world objects. Maybe you will score points for jumping on imaginary mushrooms in your lounge room, or for perfectly cutting a carrot. Hunt and shoot creatures hiding around your house or backyard. It might seem odd, but it’s a big space that is still relatively untapped and industry experts are tipping everyone to watch this space.
Microsoft went and surprised everyone this year when they released the HoloLens. 3D AR holographic gaming in a completely self contained headset device. It’s hot off the press, but Microsoft demonstrated a man playing Minecraft in his lounge room and woman messing around with a toolkit in an office space. Pretty cool stuff, but we have no idea what it’s like to play with yet.
Problems with AR vs VR
The one big limitation with AR v.s VR is that in a VR world you have limitless gaming possibilities. In VR world developers can create a complex scene with a huge amount of pathways and options for gamers to explore – each with their own unique outcomes and challenges. In an AR world though, you are limited by the space you play in. Lets say it’s your lounge room and that it’s 15ft x 15ft, the walls are the confines or where your gameplay must stay. OK, so you can go down the corridor and into a bedroom, but once you’ve been into those rooms a bunch of times it’s going to get a little repetitive. It’s kind of niche and new, but hardcore gamers will take VR over AR any day.
A Shift in Gaming Platforms
OK, so you are not ready to ditch your PS4 controller for a goofy VR headset just yet, and fair enough. But will we still be plugging into big chunky consoles in years to come?
Turns out things are changing, and your console could be on it’s last legs too. New platforms like Amazon’s FireTV allow you to play games and stream media, while game streaming services like OnLive offer a simple software service. There are a bunch of other companies offering something in between, this all translates to big changes. Games will be made, sold and played differently and this will mean cheaper gaming for everyone.
With OnLive you simply download some software and then you have access to hundreds of games that you can play on your PC or laptop. Think Netflix. But you don’t need a powerful device because all of the processing is handled by OnLive’s servers. The result is up to 720p HD quality – depending on your internet connection, of course. OnLive says the absolute minimum is 2Mb/s, but recommends 5Mb/s for HD gameplay. By paying around $10/month you will have access to all of their games and your game will be streamed to the HDMI port in your TV. It really that simple. If you have a good internet connection that’s all you will ever need.
Open Source Gaming
Onya is another Kickstarter success story. They raised $10 million, almost ten times what they asked for, in 2012. The platform is dedicated to independent games. This means developers don’t have to jump through hoops to develop XBox and PlayStation games or sign over their earnings to Onya. Because it’s based on Android, you will be able to play games from your portable devices too. And the best part is that all games have to start out as free.
The gaming world is changing as we speak, 2015 won’t be any different, but a big shake up is coming soon.