Understanding the Future of the Games Industry

Feb 24, 2016 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 8 rate Your vote
Get some insights to understanding where the games industry is headed to in the coming years. WWGDB - Understanding the Future of the Games Industry

Being gamers, we are all concerned as to where the games industry will bring us in the coming years and it was pure luck (or not) that I happened upon this enlightening discussion at Casual Connect during one of the few rare breaks that I have in my schedule.

The discussion consisted of a panel of 5 prominent and expert speakers, namely Devin Radford, VP of Mobile for Fox Digital Entertainment; Nizar Romdan, Director of Ecosystem for ARM; Pete Blumel, Co-Founder, CEO & Creative Director for The Rogue Initiative; Olli Sinerma, Co-Founder & Project Lead for Mindfield Games; and Henry Lowenfels, Vice President of Business Development for Scopely. And, they do have quite a lot to share about the future of the games industry.

Being a discussion about the “future” of gaming, one of the main topics they have talked about is, of course, virtual reality (VR). Pete was very excited for the new platform and believes that people think that getting into VR is cool and fun. Olli agreed with the notion that VR is the future and compares it to the “coming of the internet”… which, honestly, is a pretty high praise in my opinion, considering that the internet practically single-handedly restructured the world into what it is today.

Naturally, the topic of PC-powered VR and mobile VR eventually popped up and from what I’ve heard that day, most of the experts on the panel agreed that mobile VR is the way to go... at least for the next couple of years. Nizar from ARM, a company that is the industry leader in chip architecture for mobile devices, mentioned that the mobile platform is currently powerful enough to run high performance-requiring games and will soon be comparable to consoles. It’s all up to the game developers to leverage and harness this amazing computing ability to create VR games that player would truly want to play. This is not something that only game developers would like to keep in mind though as wearables, smart TV and assorted “smart” technologies could also make full use of the mobile platform and the capabilities it can offer.

In fact, he believes that GearVR (an example of mobile VR) and Oculus Rift (an example of PC-powered VR) provide the same user experience – players are still immersed in a somewhat realistic virtual world. That’s why mobile VR is, to him, as good as a PC game. However, he also said that mobile VR has its fair share of problems such as excessive battery drainage or overheating issues that need to be fixed in order for mobile VR to be truly “out there”.

Mobile virtual reality is the future

Devin from Fox Digital Entertainment added that current PC-powered virtual reality displays, unlike mobile ones, are tethered and that might actually disrupt the players’ VR experience. He also mentioned that the mobile market is becoming a pretty huge market and in order to sustain its continual growth, mobile VR might be the key to spur the mobile market to a whole new level.

Furthermore, Olli reiterated that mobile VR is perhaps the best first experience of VR one can get, but developers and other members in the games industry will need to build up on this experience in order to make it better, such as adding in movement in virtual reality, the sense of touch, and others. He lamented that there are no dedicated hand controllers for mobile HMDs at the moment and would love to see that changed. With Samsung’s huge efforts in the upcoming Rink, a dedicated controller for currently the best mobile VR HMD in the market, GearVR, I’ll bet Olli will get his wish granted much earlier than expected!

Besides VR, they have also dabbled into the topic of augmented reality or “AR” for short, and naturally, a comparison between both technologies come into mind. According to Henry from Scopely, AR is much more mobile than VR, and is able to actually add an additional layer, albeit a virtual layer, to your reality, making reality more interesting than it already is. Admittedly, although I’m still a huge proponent for virtual reality, he’s got a point there... so hear, hear!

However, Olli has a point as well when he mentioned that AR is a lot more practical in its use rather than being exclusively a tool for gaming. From one of the live demo of Microsoft Hololens, one of the best examples of AR (The video’s embedded below), you could easily see why Olli thinks so. I guess it is an exciting time to be alive, to be able to see how the world adapts to these new technologies.

In an interesting turn of events, the future of core gaming on mobiles and the impact it will have on the games industry as a whole were also brought into question. Core gaming is defined by Scopely’s VP for Business Development, Henry, as playing a game for 25 minutes at a time for multiple times throughout the day. However he is of the opinion that the very definition of core gaming needs to be changed, citing that how some casual-like games are blurring the lines between casual and core games by being super accessible to all types of players (a prime characteristic of casual games) and yet are super competitive to play. A few such core games that have made it big on mobile that I can think of at the moment are probably Hearthstone and Clash of Clans.

Nizar concurred. He mentioned that although the computing capability of mobile devices aren’t a huge factor in running core games, mobiles are unable to provide the “core game experience” that most core gamers are used to, such as a larger screen, the mouse-based controls, etc. So in other words, is a game still considered a “core game” if it is unable to provide the essential “core game experience”? That for sure is a food for thought that people will passionately argue over for months to come, I reckon!

Moreover, Devin mentioned that he has noticed that more core games are currently entering the mobile market and that more core gamers are preferring to play the games they love on their mobile devices, primarily on their tablets, rather than on their consoles or PC. Olli also added that it’s harder to find new mobile core games in the past and that the previous mobiles are not catered to core games. However, all of these are now gradually changing and will continue to improve for the years to come.

The growth of mobile core games

There were a couple more interesting ideas that were brought up and bounced around among these distinguished members of the panel, such as the idea of Android-based consoles presented by Nizar, but these ideas seem to have faded in the midst of the discussion due to the lack of time. What a real pity!

Anyway, now that we understand more about where the games industry is headed to... would you personally agree, or disagree, with what was being discussed by the panel? What do YOU think is the future of gaming?

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