2016 E3

What E3 2016 Told Us About Where Games Are Headed

(This post is written by guest blogger Cassie. Cassie is a technology writer at Secure Thoughts who enjoys all things technology and gaming related. She loves seeing how shifts in technology and culture affect the gaming industry.)

E3 2016 has now passed us by and we can take a closer look at exactly what happened. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might have attracted the most attention, there were also several budding trends that gave the gaming enthusiasts a taste of what is to come in the near future.

More Diversity in Gaming

One very positive movement in gaming is that minorities are playing more key roles developing video games as well as being within them.

Many women took center stage at many E3 panels such as Electronic Art’s Jade Raymond and Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis. These women aren’t new to the scene, either. Raymond formerly worked as a producer at Ubisoft and created Assassin’s Creed. Loftis has worked in the gaming department of Microsoft for over 20 years, having started as a producer to climb up to General Manager in 2014. That being said, there still were hardly any people of color speaking in front of crowds besides comedian and actress Aisha Tyler during Ubisoft’s presentation. It’s clear the gaming industry still has a long way to go, but this E3 showed some positive changes.

In terms of diversity in games themselves, there was also some progress. Three AAA games – Watch Dogs 2, Mafia III and FIFA 17 – all featured African-American men in leading roles. Microsoft highlighted female characters within games such as ReCore and Horzion: Zero Dawn while Fullbright introduced an Indian-American female lead in their upcoming game Tacoma.

Virtual Reality is Not Just a Gimmick

Considering the buzz surrounding virtual reality and the releases of the highly anticipated Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, VR has captured everyone’s imagination. It’s no surprise that many developers featured an upcoming VR game. Sony itself announced the release of their own VR headset on October 13, 2016 as well as over 100 games. Some of the top games include Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission and Final Fantasy VR Experience.

Unfortunately, there’s currently a lot of fragmentation regarding the VR hardware. The cost of entry to the market might end up being too expensive for most gamers. The headsets themselves cost quite a bit of money ranging from $399 for the PlayStation VR to $799 for the HTC Vive. The headset isn’t the only cost, however, as PC gamers will need a powerful rig to play anything at an acceptable level of quality. As for the PlayStation VR, it requires a PS4 to use.

Despite this, the future of VR seems bright as consumers and studios alike are starting to pay more attention to it. While the market is still in a more experimental phase, the growing trend seems to be pointing to VR as a solid gaming market in the near future.

E-Sports Will Continue to Grow

Ten years ago the idea of playing video games professionally was a pipe dream for many gaming enthusiasts. Today, it has taken game industry professionals by surprise with its meteoric rise and now attracts large sponsorships from companies like Geico and Nissan. What started in South Korea grew to an international craze with the introduction of streaming services such as Twitch and Hitbox. ESPN further legitimized professional video gaming by airing competitions on ESPN3 live.

As the demand grows into a more recognized sport, advertisers and sponsors are now willing to put more money into marketing. This trend has led many publishers and developers to focus on competitive gaming. For example, Bethesda rolled out a new first-person shooter titled Quake Champions, which is an online arena style game based on their popular Quake series. Microsoft plans on releasing a feature on Xbox Live to manage tournaments of all sizes.

It’s possible that as the sport grows it will be harder for people to join teams and rise to the top. That being said, it’s still possible for regular gamers to join local competitions and tournaments. Increasing your skill at a game to a competitive requires a lot more practice than some would think.

The world of gaming continues to change and evolve with new technology. The demands of gamers change with the times, and so studios and publishers must adapt. What important trends did you notice at E3 2016? Is there anything else you noticed about the convention? Tell us in the comments below.

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