Ever since their popularization in the mid-1980s, video games have remained one of the most important markets in the entertainment industry, with a recent report by ResearchAndMarkets predicting that the global console games market will reach over $67 billion in revenue by 2023. And the gaming industry is constantly evolving, having gone through major transformations in the past few decades, thanks to technological advancements and new marketing resources.
The emergence of online gaming in the late 2000s is cited as one of the defining moments that revolutionized the video game industry, as developers and publishers became able to come up with innovative gaming experiences through new tech trends and gaming platforms.
Last year, with much of the world forced to stay inside, people had to resort to video games as an alternative form of entertainment, and several gaming activities went through a surge of popularity – virtual reality gaming finally achieved its true potential, social games like Among Us became a hot trend within mobile gaming, and blockchain gaming took a few more steps into mainstream.
Even though the global gaming market is thriving as a whole, there are certain styles of gaming that are growing more profoundly than others, and the following gaming experiences are regarded as some of the most popular gaming activities in 2021, having attracted millions of hardcore gamers and casual players from all around the world.
Blockchain technologies have been taking the online world by storm in recent months, and cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens are some of the hottest trends right now. At first, blockchains were created to serve as public ledgers for cryptocurrencies owever, after the emergence of smart contracts and NFTs, this technology has been responsible for major transformations in several industries, including video games.
Initially, blockchain games, or crypto games, were mostly based on NFTs and collectible items, such as virtual pets, Pokémon-like creatures, and collectible cards. With the improvement of blockchain technologies in the past few months, developers became able to devise more intricate gameplays and provide much more immersive experiences.
Currently, there are plenty of different blockchain games available, with gameplays ranging from role-playing games like CryptoBlades – in which players battle monsters, craft unique weapons, and trade their items as NFTs – to adventure games like The Sandbox, which allows players to design digital worlds, create interactive adventures, and trade their assets using its own gaming cryptocurrency. For fans of trading cards, Splinterlands is also a popular title, combining gameplay similar to Hearthstone with blockchain elements.
Social gaming refers to video games that allow players to socialize as they play, through multiplayer features, social platforms, activity feeds, guild mechanics, and even by integrating social features into the gameplay. Even though social gaming is still a relatively new concept, the genre soared in popularity during the pandemic, attracting players from around the world and accounting for millions of hours of streamed content.
“Social gaming was happening pre-pandemic, but it truly exploded during restrictions when, as we’ve been saying, ‘down on the corner has become up on the server’’, said David Kleeman, senior vice-president of global trends at Dubit, a digital studio and market research firm, in an interview for Yahoo!Finance. “Whether they’re creating the link themselves or the social space exists within the game, young people are spending time in games that allow them to socialize as they play or watch.”
Some of the most popular titles in this new genre include Among Us, a social deduction game released in 2018 by Innersloth, Epic Games’ cultural phenomenon battle royale Fortnite, and Roblox, a sandbox platform with integrated social features, in which players can create games and join each other’s experiences.
We know what you might be thinking… “board games aren’t something new”. Yes, board games have been around for quite some time now, being a favorite pastime all around the world. But recently, board games are being taken to a whole new level, with publishers creating sophisticated gameplays and elaborate mechanics to provide innovative, unique games.
And last year, as people had to stay home to comply with social distancing measures and became unable to get together with friends to play said games, once again, we turned to online gaming to solve our problems. Currently, there are two great gaming platforms in which users can play several tabletop classics like Monopoly, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan and even create their own board games.
Available on Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux, Tabletop Simulator is a video game that allows players to create and play tabletop and board games in a multiplayer sandbox environment. But there’s also Tabletopia, an online portal and mobile app described by developers as an “online arena for playing board games just like in real life,” with more than 1,600 games available and many tools that facilitate gameplay.