As we look ahead to the new year and all that it will bring, it’s time to ask ourselves: what can we expect to see making gaming headlines 2014?
We saw some pretty awesome developments in the gaming world in 2013. From the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to the release of groundbreaking titles like GTA V and The Last of Us, there were some pretty exciting and important changes that went down.
Now that we’re on the brink of 2014, we thought it was a good time to cast our eye over what we think will be some of the major players in the coming year. Let’s get started.
1. Virtual reality finally makes the grade
There are many reasons why 2014 is going to be an exciting year for gaming, but one reason tops them all: the expected release of the Oculus Rift. VR headsets are nothing new, but this one seems to be the business. The development version has received rave reviews, winning praise for deeply immersive gameplay on a level gamers simply haven’t been lucky enough to experience yet.
The final version is expected to cost around $300 (although its developers hope to make it free), which could blow traditional games consoles out of the water; why would anyone want to sit in front of a TV screen when, for less money than a next gen console, you could be there in the game world itself, exploring the planets or fighting a zombie horde? If it lives up to the hype, the Oculus Rift could be the biggest development in the gaming world in a decade, perhaps even a generation.
2. Motion capture gaming
In a similar vein to the Oculus Rift, motion capture technology is going to play a big role in gaming in 2014. Microsoft gave this a massive boost by including the Kinect with all Xbox One consoles, and this should encourage developers to experiment with bringing motion capture elements into their games.
Think about it – if we’re playing a really immersive game, we often find ourselves moving and shifting as if we were actually in the game itself. We flinch, we dodge punches, we lean into corners. On older consoles this wouldn’t have done much, but with an increasing number of games incorporating body movements into gameplay, we’ll finally have a use for the movements we naturally make when playing games. This should help to make games more immersive and more entertaining, and is thus something that should be roundly welcomed.
3. The rise of microconsoles
It may have received “lukewarm” reviews upon its release, but the OUYA microconsole shows a ton of promise. Although it costs less than £100, it allows gamers a wealth of modding and customising options to extend it beyond its basic abilities, and this could be a killer combination – low cost to attract the casual gamer, easy modding ability to draw in those who want to tinker and experiment with a games console. Another one to watch is the GameStick, a miniscule console the size of a USB stick that plugs directly into the back of your TV.
Though neither this nor the OUYA will be able to compete with the high-end console giants, if they are able to carve out their own niche then 2014 could be the year they make a real impact. That they received impressive public funding through Kickstarter (GameStick raising $650,000, Ouya a whopping $8.5m) is startling, and a clear indication that if they can deliver, the demand is certainly there.
4. Gaming will become more shareable
We already know how easy it is to share our high scores and achievements on mobile devices. Many mobile games have sharing features built in, enabling us to seamlessly impress (or irritate) our friends with our world-beating (ahem) scores. But with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One and their in-built sharing capabilities – such as posting gameplay footage to uStream or Twitch (though Xbox One users will have to wait until early 2014 for this) – this is finally going to reach its potential on gaming consoles.
Of course, sharing your gameplay exploits was possible before, but the new consoles make it far, far easier, as all you need is a Twitch or uStream account. Indeed, already roughly 800,000 people have broadcasted gameplay from their PlayStation 4 consoles since launch. There’s no need for third party software, and this simplicity will surely make shareability a big development for 2014.
5. Mobile gaming will become even bigger
As we detailed a few weeks ago, mobile gaming is on the rise. The portability of mobile devices and their ever-increasing hardware capabilities essentially mean that people are now able to carry a games console with them wherever they go.
Games developers are recognising this – they’re busy creating bigger and better games for mobile devices. They are finding that the constraints that used to limit mobile gaming are slowly but surely being removed as devices become more powerful. Hell, the people behind the Oculus Rift have even announced that they’re working on an Android app to bring VR to our phones and tablets, and others like Durovois are following suit. Mobile gaming is here to stay, and 2014 could be the year that it truly moves up a gear.
So there we have it, The Next Level Gaming’s roundup of future gaming trends for 2014!
But how about you? What do you think will change the gaming industry in 2014? What developments are you looking forward to most? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter for more gaming goodness.