If you are an avid gamer, you will know that the gaming industry is at the forefront of the latest technological trends.
As a global market worth an estimated $175 billion, it’s one of the first places where innovators go to sell their new ideas in hopes that game developers will adopt them for their new projects.
2022 has already been a hectic year. Talk of a Web-3 metaverse is growing, while AI and VR-based tools are helping to improve the gaming experience.
Here are some of the biggest innovations that are set to make waves this year and beyond.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of cloud gaming, or gaming as a service – an online game that runs on a remote server or cloud – but 2022 could be the year we really see it. become mainstream.
Google Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming have all tried to find a winning formula, but expensive subscriptions and a lack of player enthusiasm have held them back.
Stadia moving its backend to a white-label service could be a game-changer, however. This would give publishers the ability to launch their own cloud services for their game stock, improving ease of access for fans.
Hands-on promotions, too, like Xbox making Fortnite free to play through its cloud — not to mention its now cloud-enabled Series X/S and One consoles — will help build momentum.
NFTs and Blockchains
NFTs rose to fame in 2021 when artist Beeple sold his artwork for $21 million, an amount that makes many lottery jackpots seem small.
However, the story has distracted from what NFTs – and the blockchain technology they run on – can bring to gaming technology.
Blockchain games have actually been around since 2018 when Sky Mavis’s Axie Infinity showcased its NFT-based game economy. Since then, live games like thetan arena and Uplands went further: in the latter case, for example, you can own in-game properties that are NFTs that you can trade with other players.
Now games like Round intend to create a metaverse of player-owned NFT lands, where users can generate and monetize their own content to share and trade with others.
Even Snoop Dogg is in the game. Earlier this year, he created his own “Snoopverse” via the Sandbox platform where players could purchase their own properties. One avid fan even paid $450,000 to be the rapper’s neighbor in his virtual world.
More portable devices
We could be on the verge of portable PC gaming becoming big business. Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC, was slated for a pioneering 2021 launch, but was instead delayed until this year.
Although the reviews were average, it opened the floodgates for other portable challengers. The Analogue Pocket lets you play all your classic Game Boy and Game Gear games on a single device, while Playdate has the capacity to store a huge collection of games.
The biggest challenge, however, will be whether the new handhelds can harness the power of Qualcomm’s new custom mobile chip, designed specifically for gaming on the go. Android game consoles could be the next big thing.
Haptics of the mouth
One of the hallmarks of the Metaverse is that the game looks and feels as real as possible. Oral haptics is one product of that: basically, it’s a device attached to a VR headset that’s designed to mimic the sensations around the mouth.
But what could this mean for games? Well, imagine playing an adventure game and interacting with various objects in the virtual world: it could mean feeling the sensation of drinking water from a fountain, or even having insects crawling in your mouth.
The technology works through a grid of ultrasound transducers embedded in the haptic device that produce frequencies focused enough to create pressure sensations on the skin. The nerves around the mouth are particularly sensitive, making the mouth an ideal target for researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.
Oral haptics, however, is still a work in progress. Several of the volunteers in the researchers’ test group felt nothing, and the creators admitted there was still a long way to go. However, the end of 2022 could be when we see trial versions available in games, which would add a whole new dimension to some of our favorite titles!
So, what innovation are you most looking forward to? Do you have your own laptop or do you feel virtual spiders crawling around your mouth? Well, 2022 just might be the year you can find out.