These are exciting times to play video games. The industry has grown so much over the past few years that people who play games aren’t a homogeneous bunch anymore (that’s one of the reasons why I avoid using the term “gamer”.) Some people like to play the latest releases, others enjoy mobile gaming, others are waiting for the next big thing and so on. There’s room for everybody and that’s what makes the video games industry so thrilling. I worked on a list with some of the most exciting innovations that I’m glad I have access to.
Those who had the chance to try the Oculus Rift keep saying that this is the peripheral that will revolutionize the industry. Developers have tried to create a virtual reality device for years, but none succeeded in that endeavor, until a small company from Irvine, California proved that there’s value in computer-simulated environments. A while ago, Facebook bought Oculus VR and if they decide to launch a definitive development kit to the mass market, the industry as we know it might be entirely different a few years from now. It’s worth mentioning that PlayStation has its own VR device, called Project Morpheus, and while they haven’t decided to release this to a wider audience, maybe they can do something compelling with their own version of their device.
We knew it was going to happen eventually, but it’s now official. Every video game released has a digital version available and that’s great news for those people who don’t want to deal with physical media or go to a place to purchase a disc that may end up scratched or lost. That also means that different companies have their own service and this constant competition is great news to consumers, since they’ll be getting more discounts.
Rhythm games that teach you how to play instruments
A long time ago, Rock Band and Guitar Hero revolutionized the rhythm genre in a way most people hadn’t anticipated. But those titles were peripheral-based and dragging huge drum kits around just s that you could play random songs in your library became a hassle after a while. But then Ubisoft released Rocksmith, a teaching tool that teaches you how to play the guitar, and while that game in particular hasn’t changed the genre like Guitar Hero and Rock Band did, it’s exciting for people who want to learn how to play a real-life instrument in an interactive way.
Ambitious indie games
When independent developer Hello Games announced that the follow-up to Joe Danger was going to be an extremely ambitious exploration-based game No Man’s Sky, everything started paying attention to the British company. In No Man’s Sky, you’ll be part of a procedurally-generated open-world title that has huge environments, deep seas, space battles and unique ecosystems that change on the fly. And it was all done by a really small team. We’ll have to wait until the game comes out to see if everyone’s expectations have been met, but in the meantime, Hello Game has proven that ambitious games can also be made by indie developers.
I miss home consoles, but then I have to remind myself that I don’t use them because most of the games I want to play are coming out on the PC. What do I do? Valve has a solution to my problem and it’s called “Steam Machines”, a line of pre-built computers with gaming in mind. The idea is that you’ll be able to connect these machines to your TV in your living room and play using a controller. These computers will run the Steam OS, a Linux-based operating system developed for Steam games. But the most exciting aspect about these computers is that you’ll be able to customize them and that you’ll be able to use a controller to play most games. The Steam Machines and Steam OS are coming to the market in 2015.
Video game bundles
Bundle Stars, Humble Store, GOG and Steam offer a variety of bundles for a small amount of money, which means that to have a large digital collection of games, you won’t have to sell your precious kidney.
Subscription-based services that offer discounts and free games
PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are the future. This subscription-based services offer discounts and free games on a monthly basis and instead of buying individual games, you can just focus on the freebies. Some of the games are offered as part of this promotions are great and if you missed them when they came out, you can get them for free.
Alternative platforms to play games
Let’s be fair, the OUYA, Amazon Fire TV and GameStick won’t replace your PC, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but for people who play video games casually and don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on new platforms, they represent a convenient solution. On top of that, most of the aforementioned micro-consoles also have applications like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Crackle, so if you like listening to music or watch films, these platforms are a cheap way to get everything you like in one convenient package.
Video game tournaments
During the last International tournament Valve gave away 10 million dollars in prizes. That’s insane and while Dota 2 is a very specific game, it’s only a matter of time before other titles try to do something similar. Other games that have tournaments include League of Legends, Street Fighter IV, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty, to name a few.
Let’s Play videos
I miss written reviews and long feature articles, but like it or not, Let’s Play videos are here to stay. After all, you can go to YouTube and what someone play a specific game before you buy it, you can just check out a game because you’re curious and you can watch videos as a source of entertainment. Regardless of the interest you have in these videos, there are thousands of people making them on a daily basis and this is a trend that will continue for years to come.