The Surprising Trends in Gaming Right Now
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Gaming trends, like all trends, don’t always make sense but developers like us live or die by them. Many of them are bizarre, some of them are potentially damaging. Here is a list of the ones standing out right now.
Even in an age of grand and impressive RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout 4, there is still a market for indie games. And this has been proved by titles such as Undertale, which is a very basic, stripped-back RPG, but one that has sold a huge number of copies and has received great praise from critics and gamers alike.
There are a number of things at play here. First is nostalgia. The biggest demographic for gamers are those in there 20s and 30s, the people who grew up playing the most basic of console and PC games and have become disillusioned with the newer titles. These newer games often sacrifice gameplay in favor of graphics, which is something those old titles didn’t do.
Price is also important. Blockbuster gaming titles are getting more and more expensive, while indie titles are being sold at rock-bottom prices. This is a great age for developers of indie titles, even if it feels like we’re constantly up against it.
Another thing that indie games offer is a level of honesty that gamers don’t believe exists in blockbuster games. The industry has become disillusioned by gaming channels on Youtube and by gaming blogs and magazines that offer glaringly positive reviews for games that have been trashed on Amazon.
It doesn’t add up and if you listen to what the insiders are saying, it’s because those big Youtube and Twitch gamers are being paid or are being given incentives for focusing on and positively reviewing certain games. These days many gamers will buy a title based on live stream and video reviews, completely overlooking the user reviews on sites like Amazon and if these reviews are truly biased, then it means there are a lot of frustrated gamers out there throwing money at bad games because they were led to believe they were good.
Movies vs Games
Thankfully, the movie industry is no longer directing gaming trends anymore. There was a time when a blockbuster movie would release a game tie-in and would guarantee a few extra million dollars. The game was crap, cheaply thrown together and with no merit, but it was bought off the back of the success of the movie.
These days, it’s the opposite. Big games are dictating the big movie releases and in many cases the big game releases are making more money than movies. Of course, the movie/game tie-ins are still terrible (Assassin’s Creed anyone?) but at least it’s the movie industry that’s getting the worst of it these days.
The biggest and perhaps the most frustrating trend right now is for games to be created based on anything that has any semblance of popularity, regardless of how random it is. It’s why we had Emoji movies and games. In the past, the idea of creating a franchise based on a series of emoticons would have seemed absurd, but today it as accepted and it was accepted because we’ve been seeing it for several years now.
There are exceptions. For instance LEGO games and movies have been well received (see LEGO Ways) even though, when you think about it, its a little odd for such a huge franchise (including a number of theme parks) to be built off the back of a toy empire. It seems normal now because we’re used to it and have seen everything from Red Steel to Transformers take classic toys and turn them into franchises, but it’s still bizarre.