As we step forward into the next generation of console gaming, we cast our minds back to past consoles and see just how far we have advanced in gaming technology and hardware. From the 8-bit games of my youth by the likes of Nintendo (NES) and Sega (Master System), to ultra-realistic games, RDNA2 and ray-tracing; the difference is astronomical.
The very pace of this advancement opens up a whole world of new opportunities for our gaming future. As I walked my path of nostalgia, I couldn’t help being overcome by speculation surrounding what we are to see in the coming years.
Digital Gaming – Will we Say Goodbye to Discs?
With the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 releasing digital counterparts to their main consoles, it’s already looking like we are taking the first steps into a disc-less future. There are a few pros and cons to this possibility.
· Less clutter: There will be no need for you to have countless games cluttering up your gaming station. No more dust magnets
· No damaged discs: We have all experienced the scratched disc dilemma. No matter how much you look after your discs, there’s always going to be the occasional accident – especially if you have children
· Game Share: For those that game share with a friend. No more disappointment when your friend buys a hard copy of a game you really want to play
· No Lost Games: The clumsy and the careless (OK, me) among us will on occasion lose a long-forgotten disc. Not having any hard copies to lose is a sure-fire solution to losing hard copies
· Hassle-Free Changing of Games: We’ve all been there. Just back from work after a hard day and all you want to do is play. But alas, you realize you have the wrong game in, or change your mind, just as you sit down. Digital allows you to swap and change games right from the comfort of your favorite chair
· No More ‘Swapsies’: On the flip-side of the game share pro-point, we have the inability to swap completed games with a friend
· No More Physical Copies to Display: If you already proudly display a vast collection of games, your collection will cease to grow. No more special editions to flaunt or game racks to fill. A real bitter-sweet pill
· Presents: Gone will be days of opening a present from your favourite uncle as a kid to find the latest game. A gift card just doesn’t have the same effect
· Non-Ownership: When you ‘buy’ a digital game, you are merely paying for the licence to play it; you don’t actually own the game. This is trivial, as it’s doubtless that PlayStation is going to suddenly stop you playing it
· Rental Services: My personal reason for getting a non-digital PlayStation 5. Rental companies like Boomerang won’t support digital copies.
With many major players “going green” and cutting down on packaging etc, it’s very likely that we will see Sony and Microsoft taking a similar approach with their next consoles and going 100% digital to be seen doing their bit for the environment (corporate virtue signalling). Prepare to say goodbye to hard copies as soon as the next few years.
Current virtual reality is beautifully immersive and it amazed me when I first bought a PS VR but it does have on draw-back; movement. In our current VR games, we are forced to move by pointing at a location and pressing a button. This can take away the sense of realism, making the experience a little less compelling than usual.
Future technology will bring with it the ability to navigate the virtual worlds by actually walking around. This will be done by using a platform of rolling bars that will track your movement as you move your legs. First shown on The Gadget Show in the UK; this looks to be the next huge thing for virtual reality gaming. If you haven’t got a large room, the chances are that you will be reaching for the sledgehammer and knocking down walls. It really does look that good.
Mixed Reality Games
Since Pokémon GO first came to our phones, augmented reality has become an often-used foundation for a lot of new mobile apps. As game companies like to jump straight onto trends, I am really hoping for mixed reality games. Crossing virtuality with reality will be easily attainable with current technology.
Furthermore, they could even go that extra step and rid these games of the bulky headsets that were essential to previous VR games. Something as simple and as lightweight as a pair of glasses could be used bringing the game’s world into your front room.
Over recent years, we have seen a lot of research going into artificial intelligence. Google have a number of projects at the moment. They can all be seen here and show just how much work they are putting into this space-age technology. Imagine an NPC (non-playable character) that literally has a mind of its own. Likewise, we could have truly random events happening in games, keeping players on their toes as they expect the unexpected.
This isn’t as science fiction as it sounds. The technology to do this is already in existence. All we are waiting for is developers to latch on to the idea and build games around it. Current hardware would make for a smooth execution too, we can only dream.
The future of gaming is set to blow the socks off many a gamer. We are already seeing many technologies used in the world around us. The future is fast approaching; I say with confidence that we will soon be deeply absorbed in a reality like no other.
Each time you turn on a console, you will be sure to be absorbed into an ultra-realistic world that will take your breath away. The world is about to change for gamers and I’m going to book front seats for the ride. I can not wait.
So, buckle up and watch this space because the future looks to be a gamer’s heaven.