The future of gaming is here! From modular game consoles to immersive VR, everything you need to look out for
PlayStation VR was named one of the best inventions of 2016.
Here is looking at the future of gaming:
More Immersive VR
Time magazine named PlayStation VR as one of the best inventions of 2016 — this indicates how much impact VR has in the gaming industry already. 2016 also saw the launch of three major VR headsets: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. At the annual E3 show, almost all major developers announced VR supported game titles, addressing the issue of lack of content. To take VR to next step, Oculus has already announced handheld touch controllers that work with the Oculus Rift headset and replicate your hand movements. This enables better controls in various games, delivering a more immersive experience to the gamer.
Leap Motion’s hand tracking device (that failed to impress reviewers earlier, thanks to buggy performance) has improved its performance with the new Orion software update launched by the company. You mount the Leap Motion box on your VR headset and it will start tracking your hand movements in VR. While the software is still in beta, a lot of users have reported excellent results — as the company improves the software, you will not need to hold any physical controllers to track hand movements.
Moving around in VR is another issue — you need a lot of space to minimise the risk of bumping into anything in the room. For this issue, companies such as 3D Rudder have launched foot powered VR controllers.
This is a compact, disc-shaped controller that you use with your feet. You can jump, slide, run during the game without moving at all using this innovative controller. Multiplayer VR gaming is another aspect that is expected to enhance the overall gaming experience. Currently, multiplayer games are very basic and there are very few players with access to VR hardware. The main reason for this is the high cost of the VR headsets and hardware. As demand improves, we expect the price of VR headsets to come down which will enable a richer multiplayer experience for gamers.
Modular Game Consoles
One of the big gripes console gamers have always had is the bulky console design that cannot be carried around easily. Handheld consoles are just not powerful enough to play the big titles and hence not favored by many. Nintendo’s Switch solves these problems by being the first compact console that can be easily carried around and does not compromise on the hardware either. The switch has its own 6.6-inch touchscreen display and comes with detachable controllers — they can slide into dedicated slots on the tablet for handheld gaming. You can also connect the Switch to a TV via its docking station — the two controllers can then be detached and used wirelessly in this mode for ‘proper’ TV console usage. While Microsoft and Sony have been working to make their devices slimmer and lighter, the Nintendo Switch represents a massive evolution in the console category. In the near future, we expect both Microsoft and Sony to launch similar offerings.
Second and Third Gaming Screens
We don’t mean having a multiple monitor setup when we say second and third screen. The second screen is a term used to having a separate display that shows additional information during gaming while the main screen lets you focus on the action. A good example of this is the PlayStation app and Xbox Smartglass app. They show you information related to your gaming account on your phone or tablet. Or they can control game downloads and set-up multiplayer sessions while the game continues on the main screen.
With improvements in hardware, developers can now make games that can automatically split information across multiple displays (even for three or four screens). In a future gaming scenario, you can have your character and worldview on one screen, while the second and third screens show you maps, gaming statistics or a chat window for multiplayer sessions.
Pressure Sensitive Touchscreens
Mobile gaming relies heavily on touch but there’s a fundamental problem with this approach: firstly, your hands/fingers will block a significant portion of the screen while gaming. Next, there will typically be only two points of touch, which means game developers have to use a lot of smarts to fit complex gameplay manoeuvres into the confines of that control method. Apart from just making screens multi touch capable, making them sensitive to the amount of pressure applied is the way forward. Obviously, you’ve seen with iPhones already and a number of games support 3D Touch already. Pretty soon, all mobile displays will be pressure sensitive. In addition, taking a cue from portable consoles like the PlayStation Vita (which had a touchpad on the back of the device), mobile gaming platforms will also adopt multi-touch and pressure sensitive displays on the back.
Owners of Sony’s PlayStation 3 will know this already, but Sony took a big step in this direction by enabling cross gaming with their portable console, the PSP. As long as both devices were connected to the same WiFi network, you could play the full PS3 game on the PSP. In this case, the PS3 still did the heavy lifting while the PSP just functioned as the portable screen and controller. Nvidia has a similar technology called GameStream for their GeForce GTX series of graphics cards. If you have the card installed on a gaming PC at home, you can play your game on their Shield device which can be connected to another TV. In Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere program, you only need to buy a compatible game once — you can play the game on an Xbox One console or a Windows 10 PC, provided you are signed in with the same Microsoft account. These are just the beginnings of Cross playback: the day is not far when you’ll be able to take your game from computers to consoles to smartphones and TVs. After all, when you buy a game, you should be able to play it on the platform of your choice.