Talking Point: What Will be the Next Big Craze in the Video Game Industry?

by Gabriel Cavalcanti
Published: Last Updated on

Talking Point is a weekly series that posits a question concerning the gaming industry. We encourage readers, as well as our writers, to offer their thoughts on the topic. Hence the name: Talking Point. Feel free to join in below.

Trends come and go, be they clothing, music, books, films, or even video games. The video game industry, like any other, tends to shift the focus of its products to meet the demand of consumers, which often results in a saturated market. Not long ago first person shooters were all the rage. Then came God of War (2005) and all its clones. In recent years we had interactive adventure games (with Telltale Games leading the front), retro-looking indie games, and open world titles filling the shelves of retailers or cluttering Steam’s storefront.

The open world craze is still fresh. Triple-A publishers seem to favor this gameplay approach in order to meet the demand for a title that justifies its premium price tag. While most of these games present stellar graphics and smooth mechanics, the public has started to notice they follow safe patterns to guarantee over 30 or 50 hours of content. Such patterns include a massive open world in the likes of Grand Theft Auto or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a multitude of repetitive optional objectives that hardly add to the game’s story, and contained exploration—meaning there’s little to no incentive to stray too far from the main course.

Video game industry

Image provided by Oliver Rebbeck.

As much as I enjoy the freedom provided by open worlds, I have to agree with anyone who says there’s just too many of them out there. It seems like every other big release is an open world game and at this point, we already know what to expect from those. The formula is stale and the public is starting to ask for something else, preferably linear. At this rate, it’s difficult not to wonder what the next big thing will be, yet just as difficult to accurately pin it down.

Considering the cries of hardcore gamers and critics, could we start seeing more linear games such as Resident Evil 7? Or perhaps a bigger focus on branching storylines, an approach the industry has been leaning towards for some time now? Can virtual reality finally take off or will we see platformers making a huge splash once again? eSports (be it MOBAs or team-based shooters) became a powerful genre over the past few years, so could it dominate the industry in the near future? Have your say and let us know what you think.

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John Cal McCormick March 24, 2017 - 11:34 pm

I think the next big craze isn’t going to be a specific genre, but a distribution method; I think the next few years are going to see more and more AAA games going episodic/existing as a platform rather than a standalone release. The success of Destiny (which bears little resemblance to the game that shipped in its original form) and the latest Hitman game will, I think, spur on publishers to try similar things with upcoming games.

Invariably, some will get it right, some will nickel and dime consumers, and the bad ones will ultimately turn gamers off the idea.

Ricky D March 25, 2017 - 1:07 am

I think you are spot on actually. I remember a while back wanting to discuss this on the show. I actually kind of like the idea minus one big problem. I like buying physical copies and the reason why I haven’t played some of the newer Telltale games is because I’m waiting on a physical release. I bought Life is Strange digitally as they rolled them out and later bought a physical copy which I haven’t had a chance to play yet. I figure one day I’ll play it again but right now it seems like I wasted my money.

John Cal McCormick March 25, 2017 - 6:43 am

Physical is, unfortunately for those who like it, going the way of vinyl, I think. There’ll still be physical copies made for the hardcore collectors but the business will primarily shift to digital and shops like GameStop will be gone. Once digital becomes the primary distribution method of console gaming I expect we’ll see more games going the platform route.

We don’t really need a FIFA, or a Madden, or a WWE every year. It’s the same game with a few tweaks and some roster updates. Imagine if those games were a platform. They could probably get people to pay monthly subscriptions for constant updates or something if they wanted. They could certainly ship roster updates once a year for a fee and then only have a new iteration when they have something new to peddle.

Other things like Gran Turismo or Forza would work as a service too. Just add some tracks and some cars periodically for money.

There’s lots more too.

Izsak “Khane” Barnette March 30, 2017 - 2:00 am

I personally welcome the idea of NBA 2K as a platform. Much better than paying for glorified roster updates every year.

Andrew Paul Vandersteen March 25, 2017 - 12:18 am

I think big, overly long open world games is just the gut-reaction to the movement against shorter games we saw spring up a few years ago. Gamers decided they wanted more bang from their buck and being sold a 5 hour experience at $60+ dollars just didn’t cut it for them any more. Writing a longer narrative is hard, but if you force the narrative to be longer by stretching an entire world over it you can make a 10 hour story take 100 hours.

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