11 Gaming trends and events we’d like to come to pass in 2020
The New Year has just kicked off, but the gaming industry is still catching up. We have a few weeks to wait before major releases start tricking in again, so let’s take this time to look forward.
There’s a lot happening in 2020 already. Between new hardware coming out, the swan songs of last generation exclusives slated for release, and the inevitable spectacle that will be major trade shows like E3 in a generation tipping year, we are sure to have our plate full.
But even more interesting than the events that we know will come to pass are the events that we don’t. We only have the barest inklings that the events in this list will transpire in 2020, but that doesn’t keep us from hoping. Think of this as a sort of wish list for things that we would like to see happen this year, but that are also at the very least somewhat plausible.
Sony announces a new PSVR
Sony’s CES show was not great for gaming. The most they had to show us was a new PS5 logo which looks a whole lot like the PS4 logo on a black background. But they said that they had more announcements to give in the coming months and frankly we believe them.
What do we think these announcements are? Well a bunch of Sony patents were recently uncovered talking about VR technology, specifically eye-tracking technology. Sony also was keen to mention their PSVR sales of over five million at CES this year. The PSVR is certainly a success despite it being one of the weaker VR headsets out there. So when Sony switches generations to the PS5, we expect them to switch to a new generation of VR headset as well. Of course, this might not sit well with some consumers, so Sony would have to market it at a similar price point to the original PSVR.
We can probably expect it to have eye tracking support, and a higher refresh rate and resolution than the original PSVR. We also hope that Sony abandons the PS Move camera for a more sophisticated tracking system.
The industry shifts toward handheld hardcore gaming
Nintendo Switch was a big success. It looks like gamers really do want to be able to take their console with them on the go. Of course, Nintendo made this happen by working with less powerful hardware than its competitors. What if we didn’t have to make that concession?
Well CES has already given us a look at that possibility. Alienware’s Concept UFO packs an entire Windows 10 gaming PC into the size and form factor of what is, essentially, a Nintendo Switch. It even has removable clicky JoyCon style controllers and the ability to hook up to a standard monitor with little effort.
Right now, Concept UFO is just a prototype. However, if this becomes a real product, then we could see a larger industry shift toward sustainable handheld console gaming. Sony was already toying with this through game streaming integration with PS Vita. Not to mention, a patent was unveiled that showed Sony was working on a Switch/Wii U Gamepad style controller. (Sony has a lot of patents in the works.)
Note, we absolutely don’t think that Sony and Microsoft would have handheld consoles ready for 2020 release, especially since their new standard consoles are just coming out this holiday. However, we do think it’s possible that they will begin working toward a sustainable handheld console model. If either do, then handheld consoles could become the new console norm.
The industry shifts away from loot boxes and live services
The back half of the 2010s was the age of live services and loot boxes. Major developers fell into two camps: either they tried to squeeze every bit of profit out of their latest releases, or they specifically steered away from the model in fear of the inevitable backlash, and hooo boy was there backlash. Games like Fallout 76, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Shadow of War, and more ended up seeing such a huge backlash from the gaming community that they ended up patching out their original pricing models. That couldn’t have been cheap.
This begs the question: is it worth it? Is the potential profit of these new models worth the possibility of a blow up and eventually restructure? How many second chances will we, as gamers, give developers and publishers?
Right now it’s not clear, but we would like to see a general trend away from models like this. In fact, not a single GOTY nominee this year, from us, The Game Awards, or elsewhere, had a lootbox or microtransaction about them. Sure, they had DLC, but there is a big gap between DLC and other predatory monetization models.
Eventually, the lootbox well will dry up and then everyone who has switched over to that model will just want to make, you know, good games again, and there does seem to be a correlation between good games and upfront business practices.
The announcement of an enhanced Nintendo Switch
The Wii U failed. What a shame. That’s OK, Nintendo decided to fix everything by releasing Switch much earlier than PS5 and Xbox Series X. Sony and Microsoft didn’t have a new console ready to compete with Switch, so instead they released updated models of their old consoles, Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.
Now the tables have turned. Sony and Microsoft are releasing new consoles and Nintendo doesn’t have a new console to compete. What will they do? Likely the exact same thing.
Right now, Nintendo is the only first party company without an enhanced console. There are already rumors of a new Switch model coming out in 2020, and what could that model have? 4K or UHD capability? Maybe. A larger handheld screen? Possibly. Honestly it’s hard to tell what Nintendo can do to increase the Switch’s power while keeping its manageable handheld size. But mark our words, they will do it. Expect the unveiling of a Switch Pro in the very near future.
We collectively realize the problem with game streaming is marketing
The Google Stadia launch didn’t go over so well. It kind of feels like game streaming services are cursed. PS Now didn’t work. OnLive didn’t work. It kind of feels like there will never be a game streaming service that will replace traditional gaming.
That’s the thing. It won’t. Game streaming will never achieve speeds that local hardware can. That doesn’t make it worthless. That just means that we have to stop marketing game streaming as a console/PC alternative. Game streaming won’t replace our major gaming machines, but it just might be a really neat add-on.
Look at it this way. If you are a hardcore gamer, you probably already have the hardware needed to play games at home without game streaming. You also probably care about the lag that game streaming introduces. If you are a casual gamer, you probably don’t have the high speed internet connection needed to take advantage of game streaming. So there’s no way that game streaming becomes the main way you play games.
But what if you had access to your whole gaming library from any computer regardless of that computer’s power? Would you pay a monthly fee for that? What if you could play your gaming library from your phone, but at reduced quality? What if you could have access to a huge library of games from past generations that never had an official rerelease?
All of this can be done with game streaming. It wouldn’t necessarily be as good as gaming off local hardware, but that’s the point! Game streaming is a way for you to access huge libraries of games when you don’t have access to local hardware. If we just marketed it as such, rather than some sort of new magical wizard gaming that lets you play current gen releases on a ham sandwich with no lag or drop in quality, then we might actually see people adopt it.
Upgrade initiatives for PS5 and Xbox One
With new hardware coming out in 2020’s holiday season, Sony and Microsoft are going to be looking to get as many gamers as possible to upgrade to the next-generation of consoles. Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be a lot of time for either company to build up a huge launch lineup.
For a while there will be an awkward period where major releases come out both for next-generation and last-generation hardware. Last year, Sony and Microsoft unveiled a neat little strategy to get people to upgrade: upgrade initiatives. Basically, major titles would either be free or cheap to upgrade from a last-generation platform to a next-generation platform. That way, you could buy all your games on the PS3, and then switch them over to PS4 when you have enough to warrant a purchase. We expect them to do the same for PS4/PS5 and Xbox One/Xbox Series X.
But we also expect them to get a little creative. The PS5 has it’s rumored “forever compatibility” which might just grant you your entire PS4 library on PS5 from jump. Xbox Series X has cross platform capabilities with Windows 10 games, which once again might give you a decent library before a single launch title hits the market. We are sure they will come up with other great upgrade initiatives as well, and while Sony and Microsoft war with each other to see who can provide the most value, it’s the gamers that will reap the benefits.
To solution to Dexit… DLC
The first half of this list was all about broader industry trends. This second half will be about specific games. What game is up first? Pokémon.
Dexit was the big Pokémon news last year. Not every Pokémon was coming back for Pokémon Sword and Shield. When the games finally released they were…. You know… fine… and fine wasn’t good enough for most pokefans. It certainly wasn’t good enough to warrant taking away their precious… I don’t know… Probopass?
Of course, dataminers found plenty of unused Pokémon in Sword and Shield’s code, from Bulbasaur and Squirtle to Gigantamax Snorlax. Not only that, but Nintendo said that they would work hard to introduce new Pokémon to the game at later dates. What does this mean?
DLC of course! It’s pretty clear that Nintendo is setting up for the rest of the Dex to be downloadable in the future. Will it cost money or be free? We don’t know. However, we do get the sneaking suspicion that as all the pokefans shouted for a complete Dex, somewhere a single gnarled finger on a monkey’s paw curled.
Capcom announces a new fighting game
Street Fighter V is coming to an end, which leaves Capcom without a fighting game. What are they to do? Announce a new one of course!
The plan to reset the standings for Capcom Cup 2021 already points toward a Street Fighter VI. Capcom has frequently been known to release new fighting games at the turn of a console generation so Street Fighter VI being announced for the first time in 2020 just makes sense.
However, it’s entirely possible that they will take it a step further. Capcom just hasn’t been the same since Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite flopped. But with Marvel’s blessing, they might be able to right that wrong. Avengers Endgame is over and we are on to Phase 4, and Marvel might be looking to cross market with the video game community again. As long as they have a light touch, a Marvel vs. Capcom 4 could be a major hit. With DBFZ starting to wane in popularity, it’s the perfect time for a new team fighter to come and take its place.
Square Enix announces a much awaited new RPG
Square Enix is doing great these days. Kingdom Hearts 3 was a hit sales item for them and Final Fantasy VII Remake is probably going to overtake it. However, they can’t just announced Remake Chapter 2. Granted, that’s what we all want, but without a little bit of variety they will start to slowly lose the fanbase.
So Square will have to give us something else to hold us over. We already have a few options. Trials of Mana is coming out soon and Kingdom Hearts 3 is getting it’s much anticipated Re:Mind DLC. However, we predict that they are going to announce something big, something really big. Maybe it’s the next Final Fantasy. Maybe it’s a return to the Chrono series. Maybe it’s a totally new IP. However, it’s going to be huge and it’s going to get people hype as they work on Chapter 2.
Someone mashes up shooters and a genre we can’t predict
A decade ago, we had no idea what a Battle Royale shooter was and now Fornite is one of the biggest games on the market. What does this tell us?
Well it tells us that shooters are still popular, but the form that they take is hard to predict. Right before the Battle Royale shooter the Team Arcade Shooter, like Overwatch, was king. Before that we had a lot of FPSRPGs like Bioshock and before that Military Shooters like Call of Duty were still king of the crop. Not to mention we have the whole wrench of open-world gameplay thrown in there just to complicate things. Hell, this last year we gave Control GOTY, and that was a David Lynch-esque shooter/metroidvania hybrid?
So we predict that the next big thing is going to be a shooter combined with something we could have never thought of. Maybe a shooter and a farming sim? Grow your own ammo. Maybe a shooter and a rhythm game? No that was already done with Pistolwhip. Shooter and real time strategy? Manage troops from an overhead view and then jump into the body of a commander to take the enemy down?
Nintendo finally gives us Mother 3
For a lot of these, we made sure that they were at the very least plausible. This one… this one isn’t so plausible.
Every single year we hope that Nintendo will finally give us a localized version of Mother 3 and every year they don’t. We aren’t sure why. Maybe they think it’s too weird or too dark? Maybe they think the Magypsies might come off as transphobic? Maybe they just don’t think it will make money.
But the Mother fanbase is dying for this. Mother-likes have been huge in the indie game world and retro remakes have been similarly huge. We would shout our mantra of “come on Reggie, give us Mother 3” but Reggie isn’t even there anymore!
Doug Bowser, the ball is in your court.
What do you want to see happen in 2020? Let us know in the comments.