The game industry remains in bloom, scouting for innovations in other fields and embracing edgy ideas to be incorporated into the gaming experience of tomorrow. CES 2016 has revealed the latest scoop on the gadgetry that reflects nascent game hardware trends and is destined to become rave among gamers sooner or later, and E3 is yet to shed light on what’s hot on the software side of gaming. We also decided to explore what will shape this year’s gaming world frenzies, fancies and long-lasting trends. Here is the shortlist of the most anticipated things to be watched by game buffs in 2016 (curated by the zGames team — game aficionados ourselves).

#1. Hardwired to VR World

VR World

The debut of Google Glass and then Oculus Rift kindled imagination of the gaming community and electronics manufacturers contending for the dominance in the entertainment field, and propelled the development of the virtual reality concept. The major players in hardcore gaming like Sony and Microsoft are joining this race polishing their VR/AR headsets — Project Morpheus and HoloLens — hoping to make these goggles loyal partners for their consoles. Oculus teams up with Samsung to showcase Gear VR, a headset that holds Galaxy Note 4 phones to create virtual reality experience.

The industry leaders like Razor, Leap Motion, Unity, Sixense and others push forward the trailblazing OSVR, an open-source virtual reality software/hardware platform dedicated to the video games realm.

There are also wild cards among the contenders, including the Virtux Omni that expands VR beyond head-mounted display to a treadmill, and the likes. What does it mean for the gaming community? …that game developers will be actively testing the waters of VR in gaming, and we’ll see more VR apps in the near future.

#2. Knocking on the Gamers’ Door

Game Demos

While freemium model still tops the list of classic game marketing strategies, and secures the lion’s share of revenue for many game developers, it’s getting harder for small indie studios to scrape through the top rankers of game production giants with their AAA titles that occupy leading positions in app stores. That’s why indie developers are set to invent new ways to get through to gamers and win some of their love.

One of such alternatives is to start from lite HTML game demos, easily accessible from mobile phones without being downloaded, with an option to then switch to native apps. This means users can test your game in a no-strings-attached mode, and then, if they like it, enjoy the native experience. This method proved to be efficient for some developers.

Another must-do and the nub for game marketers is to take advantage of social integration: leaderboards, achievement walls, and social sharing features are tried-and-true methods to woo more users. Whereas and, where gamers chat and share gameplay videos of themselves in action, is even a more engaging form of social interaction.

#3. Where Patronage of AAA-Title Developers Meets Indie Spirit

Indie Developers

Another option to promote your titles is to knock on the gamers’ door via big name game studios, which stands out as another trend in gaming 2016. Heavy hitters of the gaming industry are taking a closer look at small creative game studios in search of new upbeat ideas, and are ready to take them under their wing.

Rovio Entertainment, renowned for its chart-topping Angry Birds franchise, launches its Rovio Stars program to offer talented teams with great ideas to take the paved path and use the Rovio name for promotion of their games. This and other similar programs are gaining steam and become a viable option for indie developers to shoulder their way to the top of gaming charts under the patronage of AAA-title owners.

#4. Education Banks on Digital Gamification


Education turns to digital gamification brought by the era of video games with doubled vigor. More and more teaching staff, university faculties, and corporate trainers are ready to introduce educational video games into the classroom and deem them to be an integral part of the learning process. Despite public controversies around the real impact of video games on kids’ behavior, most of such concerns are related to violent video games (which educational games have nothing in common with) and describe predominantly unmoderated and unattended gaming.

The recent stats proves that educators trust in the power of digital games, and adopt them to enhance apprehension and comprehension of new material. 74% of K-8 teaching staff relies on digital games to facilitate the educating process. So expect this trend to gain a footing on the next year’s game landscape.

#5. Mobile is the Next Console, eSports are the Next-Gen Olympics


With mobile phones drawing near to the looks of tablets or better say “phablets”, and haptic technology of handheld devices becoming more sophisticated and responsive, simple mobile devices are acquiring the capacity of quite performant game consoles and can be well used for hardcore gaming.

While games with all their advanced RPGs, virtual reality and augmented reality functionality transcend the limits of simple entertainment, turning into fully-fledged sports shows, eSports featuring intense game battles gather droves of spectators, and skyrocket streaming traffic during broadcasts making them more similar to the Olympics. Professional game competitions are coming into fashion in 2016.

#6. Headsets, Brainwave Scanners, GPS-enabled Bracelets, RFID-infused Figurines and What Not

Real-life Objects

The objects from real life, once abandoned for the opportunity to immerse into the worlds that existed solely in our heads, are coming back on the scene. Thanks to the flourishing state-of-affairs of the wearable devices market and rejuvenated interest in taking games to a real-life setting, two worlds are merging into combined reality for next-gen gaming experience.

This year’s CES and GDC shows have demonstrated the best and the boldest of such inventions that extend the boundaries of digital gaming to in-world gaming. Nintendo, one of the unrivalled kings of the gaming industry, has caught the tide, but in its own way — with a touch of slightly childlike anime-style Japanese outlook on life (at least as Western civilization sees it). The company introduces its Amiibo toys equipped with a RFID signal. Now all these Pokémon-, Mario-, Kirby-figurines can communicate with your Wii U GamePads and Nintendo 3DS consoles by means of NFC.

#7. In-World Gaming: To the Origins and Back

In-World Gaming

These days we can see attempts to harmonize technology with a natural setting and turn it into a thing that does not divert us from the real world and lock us in the digital reality, but instead encourages us to remain curious about real objects, cultural and historical artefacts, and people around us. What’s in it for the gaming world? The technology can be and should be used for in-world gaming (let’s say, urban projects encouraging gamers to explore neighborhoods or game projects aimed at relieving the initial psychological tensions of get-to-know communication). And the most radical tech minimalism like bracelets with no screens at all but just a “pristine” notification system or simple AR location markers can be brought into play and prove to be efficient and unintrusive enablers of in-world gaming.

#8. Couch-gaming vs On-the-go Entertainment: Hardcore vs Casual

Hardcore vs Casual

Mobile games are gaining more traction, and this market will continue to grow in 2016, making the gameplay and mechanics of mobile games more sophisticated and exquisite. Yet mobile gaming is mostly the realm of casual gamers due to its “portable” nature, and the army of everyday commuters bound to while away their time on the train or bus will continue to fuel this niche.

On the other side of gaming we still see hardcore entertainment on PCs and consoles from now on bolstered by 4K experience. Hardcore TV gamers will be treated to all the gems of multiplayer, RPGs and VR in the Ultra HD format. And that’s another emerging trend, which is here to stay.