Game Dev Trends
Game Dev Trends
AR/VR are the most significant changes in game development even though it’s still early in their development lifecycles.
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To gather insights on the current and future state of Game Development, we talked to eight executives involved in game development in some form or another. Here’s who we spoke to:
- Sid Sharma, Lead Developer Evangelist, Agora.io
- Joseph Lieberman, Director of Marketing, Antlion Audio
- Otakar Nieder, Senior Director, BISim
- Perry Krug, Principal Architect, Couchbase
- Patric Palm, CEO and Co-founder, Favro
- Doug Pearson, CTO, FlowPlay
- David Lord, CEO, JumpStart Games, Inc.
- Brian Monnin, Co-founder and CEO, Play Impossible
- George Buckenham, Lead Programmer, Sensible Object
- Grant Shonkwiler, Commander and Shonk, Shonkventures
Here's what they told us when we asked, "What are the most significant changes to game development in the last year or two?"
- It’s a constantly evolving market. Mobile games are a different market. Different segments of the industry are seeing different trends. A couple of trends are the rise of physical and digital games and augmented reality.
- VR is probably the single biggest, it is becoming an aspect of just about every project. After that would be streaming, it has been around for a while but now we have to think about it in the earliest stages of planning. How will players show our games to other players? Streaming is great because it gets whole new audiences and players into the game.
I don't think I am qualified to speak to the actual game development methodology or software, but from the design aspect, we continue to see rapid growth in what I describe as emergent storytelling games. While not new, there's a massive industry-wide focus on creating a sandbox in which the players can set their own narratives. Be that in a survival game or just a game of exploration. We've seen a big schism between these and narrative heavy games. On that flip side, narrative-heavy games are really seeing growth as well. We're talking about games that are nearly all narrative in nature, from visual novels to RPGs, we've seen real and sustained growth from genres that are more about storytelling. Though it's been a long time, I feel this was kicked off by The Stanley Parable and reinforced by the rising popularity of Visual Novels in western culture. On cRPGs, we saw a big kick-off by games like Divinity: Original Sin and the (in my opinion, lackluster) rebirth of Wasteland 2 and has been sustained by games like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity. These cRPG opuses were once all but extinct and show that there's plenty of gamers out there who want to be told a story, easily just as many as those who want to create their own as above.
- Microtransactions, like loot boxes, for PC, mobile, and AAA console games. The trade-off of trust for wealth building. “Slot machine” economics for standard gameplay is an important fork in the road. Physical digital is arising for game development. ESports is significant. It’s still early for AR/VR.
- It’s constantly evolving. There’s more focus on mobile. There are more offline capabilities for playing while on a plane or in a subway.
- Certainly, the rise of mobile and the change in the gaming ecosystem that comes with it has been the single most influential shift in the games industry in recent years. With the controlling environment the app stores present, there is really only two or three places where a game can be promoted, which is an enormous shift for an industry that is used to having thousands of places to promote a game. If you can make it to the top of the app store, you can make hundreds of millions of dollars, but if you’re ranked in the thousands, you’re making nothing. It’s a shift the industry as a whole is still grappling with. That said, as a developer of web-based games with a backend platform built in a Flash-based code, the demise of Flash has impacted FlowPlay more than any other single change. Flash has finally reached the point that it is no longer well supported inside browsers, so for the last two years, we have been in an exercise to move away from Flash.
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