As we make our way into the ninth generation of gaming consoles with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series, the market is bigger and better than ever. In total, the modern gaming industry is valued at more than $300 billion, worth more than the music and movie industries combined.
This growth isn’t just reflected by more sales, however, it’s also illustrated in how we play. There have been some profound changes in the last few years, and in the 2020s, these leaps forward look to become an increasingly important part of the gaming puzzle.
With mainstream AAA video games, the industry routinely pushes forward with new technologies to allow even better graphics. In the 2020s, the two most pronounced elements of this development are arguably found in ray-tracing and image upscaling.
Ray tracing is a manner in which games can more accurately create shadows and reflections. This is accomplished by having hardware mirror how light works in real life, by drawing individual light rays. For shadows, this allows for greater accuracy. In reflections, it allows the avoidance of tricks meant to mirror true reflections, such as cube maps and screen space reflection technology.
Image upscaling, on the other hand, is used to render image output at higher resolutions while cutting down on processing load. This is accomplished by using an AI upscaler on a lower resolution frame to predict what it would look like at a higher resolution. By then displaying the faked frame, this system can produce a strong match to what would be output at higher res, only without dragging the GPU to its knees.
A More Open Ecosystem
Multiplatform games have always been a part of the gaming industry, but recent development has raised the forms of access to unprecedented levels. Again, thanks here have to go to multiple fronts, including the increased power of mobile systems, better streaming capabilities, and the growing potential generated by overall market size.
In mobile systems, there are some arms of the interactive entertainment industry that have been pushing the envelope in gaming consistency for some time now. The best illustration of this idea in action could be found in the landscape of online casino gaming. A modern bingo website, for example, is developed to offer the same titles on both desktop and mobile systems. Whether looking at Rainbow Riches, Big Circus, or The Snowman, each plays without limitations on mobile, and this is a path that video games also aim to take.
When the power of mobiles isn’t enough to allow games to run natively, alternate solutions have been found in-game streaming over systems like Stadia. With these services, a player can stream PC or console games to their devices as they would for something like YouTube, only with the addition of real-time controls. To the end-user, this means that even the most demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassins Creed Valhalla are playable on go, as long as a strong internet connection is available.
Finally, the last major contributor to open systems comes from the market itself. With so many players engaging in so many ways, developers and publishers have far greater financial incentives to make their titles multiplatform. With this development, exclusives are becoming rarer and rarer, so players can usually find a way to play no matter what system they prefer.
It’s never easy to guess exactly where a gaming generation will go, but with the above examples, we feel there’s enough precedent to be comfortable with our predictions. It may be something we say every generation, but it continues to be true: there’s never been a better time to be a gamer. That is if you’re one of the lucky ones who have been able to get their hands on a new generation platform.