How Gaming Will Evolve in 2021


2020 has been a bleak year, prompting many of us to escape to new worlds through gaming. Although sales of video games and gaming consoles have skyrocketed since the COVID shutdown, it’s unclear whether these gains will continue into 2021. The Washington Post speculates that COVID-19 may have disrupted major game developers’ timetables, impacting game release dates and possibly minimizing returns.

But smaller developers have an opportunity to fill the gaps left by major developers. “Many large game companies have had major lay-offs and some development and consumer gaming hardware is harder to find than it would normally be,” says King Crow Studios founder Cody Louviere. “King Crow Studios, and other smaller indie game developers I’ve spoken with, have actually been more productive than ever.”

Here are some of the gaming trends we can expect to see in 2021.

More Indie Game Releases on Switch

The Nintendo Switch console quickly became the star of quarantine. Nintendo consoles haven’t traditionally been a top priority for gamers, but many gamers rounded out their console repertoire with a Switch purchase during the shutdown. “Early into the pandemic, because of titles like Animal Crossing, Pokemon and Zelda, they were buying them up so rapidly you couldn’t find a Nintendo Switch,” Louviere says.

This high demand prompted independent game developers to begin creating games for the Switch. “The number of people that have a Nintendo Switch has grown exponentially,” Louviere says. “So getting development kits became harder.” Since independent games typically take about a year to develop, we can expect to see a slew of Switch games from small developers coming out in 2021.

Graphics That Push the Limits

Newly released consoles can run powerful graphics, and game developers will hone in on the opportunity to create immersive graphics in 2021. “With the release of the current batch of next-gen consoles, I can only imagine there will be a big focus on using that developed technology to push the limits on graphics and gameplay,” Louviere says. “We’ll see some hyper-realistic games coming out soon.”

He expects to see the same trend in PC gaming, too. Ray tracing graphics cards, which power high-quality PC games, are being manufactured at higher rates and becoming more affordable now. More gamers will be able to run powerful games with high-quality graphics from their computers.

Better Access to Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) allows game developers to create an immersive experience for players. But it has uses beyond gaming: VR is most often used for workplace training, especially at organizations like the military where recruits need to train with sensitive, expensive equipment. “Walmart, Verizon, Jet Blue, the Department of Defense: they’re the ones that are really driving this technology to be successful and allow companies to exist in this environment,” Louviere says.

As VR becomes more common in corporate America, the systems that run it have become more accessible. Sony recently released PlayStation VR, which integrates with the PS5. And this year, Oculus released a new VR headset that operates independently and isn’t tethered by wires to a laptop. This technology opens up endless possibilities for game developers to share their visions with players.

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