Mobile Devices and Casual GamingOne of the biggest trends to roil the video game industry may be the growth in casual gaming on mobile devices. People are now turning to their phones and getting their gaming fix in small, simplistic doses. This is great for the development companies who make these addictive gaming apps, but it has called many of the traditional game development models into question.
Instead of pouring millions of dollars and development hours into creating an immersive online or console-based game that sells for a high ticket price, these smaller development companies are throwing together simple apps that retail for less than $10 in the hope of hitting on a hit game. It's a bit of a lottery approach, but the games that do achieve a following will receive the resources to make them better. This is essentially prototyping, and it has been shown to work pretty well for gaming apps that are meant to be played a few minutes at a time, but can it also work for games with playing times well over 30 hours?
It is too early to tell, but there seems to be a split emerging in what we refer to as gaming. Casual gaming is breaking off to do its own lower-cost thing, whereas large, immersive games are becoming more and more expensive to make. The difference between the two is similar to the difference between the television industry and the movie industry. If these two types of gaming separate further, consolidation among the immersive game designers to create better economies of scale is likely. This outcome would have both good and bad consequences.
Cloud GamingAnother interesting trend - and perhaps an alternative to having just a few huge game designers dominating the industry - is the idea of subscription gaming. This already exists for some online games, but the ability to handle all the processing and storage in the cloud means that gamers could sign up for a gaming service with a model much like the one used by Netflix. This would allow game design companies to collect ongoing revenue and update games on a rolling basis, rather than spending resources versioning a successful franchise.
The issue many gamers have with this idea is that they don't get to own games in the traditional sense. This means that hard-core gamers who lose their connection to the Internet will be stuck twiddling their thumbs until the connection is restored.