In 2018, consumers spent an estimated $137 billion on computer games. Despite growing competition from streaming media and online content, games consoles are achieving record sales while app store charts remain dominated by downloadable games. These are the gaming trends to watch out for in 2019…
First among sequels
It appears that 2019 will be a year of gaming sequels and trequels. Red Dead Redemption 2 started January dominating the sales charts, while Resident Evil 2 is expected to make a similar impact when it launches any day now. Disney Pixar spin-off Kingdom Hearts 3 arrives next week after a 14-year wait, and next month should see the Robocop-inspired Crackdown 3 debut after repeated delays. March heralds The Division 2’s inspired 1:1 representation of Washington D.C. The spring will also welcome Rage 2 – a high-octane blend of The Walking Dead, Mad Max, and MotorStorm.
Rigging the results
Most of the above titles will be available on both Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, belying the argument that gaming trends are evolving away from consoles. Successful smartphone apps generally involve simple, repetitive gameplay – think Candy Crush or Angry Birds.
Level-by-level games are reminiscent of 8-bit classics from the 1980s, which optimized the limited RAM in early home computers. By contrast, today’s consoles support stunning open-world environments and spectacular graphics. An open-world fantasy game like Anthem (due out in February) wouldn’t work on a four-inch screen, or without a dedicated controller. It’s, therefore, no surprise that the PS4 and Xbox One are outselling their predecessors at the same point in their lifecycles. And who expected Nintendo’s Switch to have sold over 22 million units?
Consoles aren’t the only devices defying rumors of their demise. Tablets were expected to slay the PC dragon once and for all, yet CES 2019 saw numerous boutique gaming computers being unveiled. Aesthetic features for desktop computers like glass cabinets, rainbow lighting, and water cooling make cutting-edge gaming rigs spectacular devices worth showing off. Meanwhile, laptops continue to obey Moore’s law by becoming slimmer yet more powerful. Asus debuted a 17-inch laptop at CES, squeezing 24GB of RAM and a six-core 8th generation Intel Core processor into an 18.7mm case. Alienware even banished the myth that laptops aren’t futureproofed with their Area-51m, sporting an upgradeable processor and graphics card.
These gaming trends haven’t affected the thriving mobile gaming industry, which is expected to record annual revenues of $100 billion by 2021. The freemium business model continues to prove hugely lucrative; Clash of Clans rakes in $60 million a month via online in-game
purchases, despite the game itself being free to download from the iOS and Android stores. The internet has even democratized game development, with blockchain-based gaming trends tipped to expand the freemium model into new markets while eliminating any need for publishers. However, like the cryptocurrencies used to reward in-game progress and pay for upgrades, it’s unclear whether blockchain-based titles can achieve mainstream acceptance.