New, disruptive and next-gen technologies are the markets that have the least competitors and the most unexplored space. 5-10 years ago that would’ve been smartphone and Facebook games and apps. There have been some failures as well though from those years such as the Ouya. So now what do we have in this field of new technologies? What do you think will be the next “big thing” for gaming? Let’s take a quick look at what is coming out or already out.
1. Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality was the hot topic this year at GDC 2015. Almost everyone was buzzing around talking about VR and it’s future. The expo was filled with tech demos of VR headsets including the Morpheus, Oculus Crescent Bay, and even the newly announced Valve HTC Vivo (which I unfortunately couldn’t try because of exclusive access). So will Virtual Reality be the next big thing?
To be honest, I’m not too sure because it’s not convenient to use for the masses right now. There are multiple problems at hand with VR currently. VR headsets are currently priced at console pricing and less ~$200. In my opinion, families are willing to buy consoles because they provide interactive, multiplayer experiences in the living room. Families can invite or host others and have the console provide entertainment. VR experiences are mostly isolated though. It’s hard to share a VR experience together so people will have to take turns. Another problem is relative spacing and player input when using VR. VR experiences may be limited in movement because players can’t afford to move around in their own homes without hitting or breaking things. Also, players currently have no way to provide input except Samsung Gear has provided one basic input. The HTC Vivo I’ve heard has two hand controller inputs so I think the Vivo may be the one to break the gaming industry. Otherwise, even during the GDC Expo, the two VR headsets I tried only provided cinematic experiences. VR definitely has some niches even if it doesn’t become huge in popularity. For example, VR would be great for companies to provide enhanced experiences to their customers in-store. Architecture firms can use it to show off houses from all over the world. Even Youtube channelers can now specalize in 360 degree videos soley for VR experiences.
2. Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality was a much less popular topic at GDC 2015. But it still has potential because we haven’t seen any games that focuses soley on an AR experience. The 3DS has a neat AR game involving cards right now but it’s more of a basic experience that comes with the 3DS than a full-fledged game. There are some emerging technologies that may bring AR into popularity though I’m not sure. Google Tango is the only one I can think of right now and it’s definitely got its applications and uses. With the Tango, you can map in real-time your surroundings using the high-def and advanced cameras on the device. Yet, it’s hard to say right now because the Tango is very expensive – priced at $1000. It’s current usage is also questionable. Many people are unsure how exactly they can utilize the Tango besides real-time 3D mapping. But this is precisely why we need to consider the Tango. Because it is a new and largely unexplored area of technology where developers and designers could create games of huge impact or influence.
3. Wearable Technology
Wearable technology has already broken into the market thanks to Apple watches. With huge numbers of watches being sold and pre-ordered, we already know that there’s a market available for smart watches. At the same time, besides a few developers, the market is still relatively fresh and one that we should explore. It has a lot of potential given the consumers (the adventurous or rich…) and also has a strong supporting ecosystem (apple store and the iPhone). A question is whether or not watches like the Pebble watch or an Android smart watch will pick up in popularity given Apple’s success with their smart watch. Finally, the most important question is… what are some unique, “fun” experiences that we as designers can think of involving smart watches? There are many limitations like processing power, graphics, screen space, etc. but that just makes our job easier! We as designers were made for designing around limitations.