2016 has definitely been ‘the year when all the stuff happened’. With a number of surprising celebrity deaths including David Bowie, Prince and Alan Rickman, as well as the shock results of the Brexit referendum in the UK and the US presidential election, it has been a year that nobody is going to forget in a hurry.
While they may have been overshadowed somewhat by some of the other things going on throughout the year, 2016 has also seen some significant advances and trends in gaming, and while single pieces of game news (like the announcement of the new Red Dead Redemption game) may have thrilled us lately, in years to come there are two main things 2016 will be remembered for in terms of gaming tech.
Both of the most significant changes in gaming this year have to do with reality – virtual reality, and augmented reality. It may seem in a way fitting that in a year with so many major changes and events, people have looked to their games to make the world seem like a slightly different place, or even wanted to escape into a computer generated world that is different altogether. However you feel about the things that have happened in the real world in 2016, the wider adoption of AR and VR this year mean that our gaming worlds will never be the same again.
The summer’s biggest gaming trend was, of course, Pokémon GO. While the fad of hunting Pokémon in the real world has all but blown over, now winter has arrived and most serious players have already all but ‘caught ’em all’, the lasting implications of the game’s popularity in the warmer months is that AR games are something people are very interested in, and playing socially in the real world was a nice change of pace for many gamers from hunting down Call of Duty infinite Warfare cheats to try and beat their friends online. Whether Pokémon GO can regain its fan base by launching more features or Pokémon is really irrelevant to what the game’s initial success means for the gaming industry, and especially mobile gaming – 2016 was the year when AR really took off.
The other big trend in gaming that will have long lasting implications was the release of VR hardware like the Oculus Rift. For both console and PC gamers, this opened up a whole new way to become immersed in the games, and VR headsets were on the wish lists of just about every hardcore gamer and tech fanatic in 2016. As the titles available for these devices grow and become more advanced, we should see an evolution of the kind of motion based gaming introduced with the Kinect, and move ever closer to a truly realistic experience.
2016 will be remembered for a lot of things, but for gamers, this was the year when reality was a theme, and advances in both AR and VR went mainstream.