It’s no surprise that video gaming is surging worldwide, especially in Asia that has over 1.48 billion players. Today, gaming is no longer just a hobby. Immersive gaming is now a profession for competitive e-sports organisations and players of all backgrounds. Here are seven trends shaping up the next generation of immersive gaming.
Unreal Engine 5.1
Epic Games released Unreal Engine 5.1—an upgrade to the game engine used by half of all upcoming next-generation video games. It offers hyper-realistic visuals, including templates that allow for the creation of entire cities.
Moreover, Unreal Engine 5 eases the game development process by allowing builders to focus more on fine-tuning the graphics, instead of spending costly hours designing the core infrastructure. Developers can also build with cross-platform compatibility in mind. “Unreal Engine 5 allows developers with faster and easier development with interoperability of assets – it’s possible to make a cross-cooperation of games developed in Unreal Engine 5,” says Rastislav Bakala, CEO of QORPO Game Studio.
Unreal Engine 5’s enhanced tools makes it possible to develop large-scale metaverses. For example, the Matrix Awakens simulation demo packed more than 35,000 realistic walking people in an entire city, demonstrating “a vision for what the future of interactive content could be.” NVIDIA Ominverse is another industry-grade platform supporting digital twins for AI Avatars, which one day aims to become a standard for immersive games.
Today, Web3 game studios are taking the user experience up a notch through redefined player ownership. Essentially, players can create, collect and trade in-game assets as NFTs to truly own them. They are secured by blockchain technology that ensures the transparency of asset ownership and traceability. Players have full control of their ID profiles and in-game items. This is in stark contrast to the existing gaming landscape where game studios can suddenly restrict users from accessing their accounts.
A gamer who spent 5,907 hours on Google Stadia, a now shut down online game service platform, begged Rockstar for a character to be transferred before it became worthless. With NFT ownership in play, gamers can avoid these types of situations by truly owning their assets secured on non-custodial accounts, as opposed to virtual items controlled by the game developer.
While gaming behemoths Ubisoft and Square Enix have embraced NFT technology, others such as Steam have outright banned games that have NFTs. Still, NFT ownership stands to democratise what it means for players to truly own their game assets.
Siloed platforms often place heavy limitations on what players can do within the game. To fix this, a cross-platform open ecosystem allows players to use the same NFTs across multiple games. A player can obtain a weapon in one game, and use the same gun across another shooter game. The concept also applies to achievement badges or player rankings.
Such portability is essential for a fluid cross-platform gaming experience, wherein players can utilise their valuable assets in many games and metaverses. NFTs use smart contracts to make asset portability possible at scale with greater transparency.
Titles supporting cross-platform NFT interoperability include games ranked in the People’s Choice Award, notably Illuvium, Star Atlas and Citizen Conflict. Cross-platform games seek to enhance the usability of NFTs by reducing friction and unlocking new modes of player interaction.
NFT monetisation and game sales peaked at US$5.17 billion in 2021. The motivations behind this stem from the problems in traditional gaming, as Bakala summarises: “There is no way for users to sell these assets for real money, in fact, users are basically funding a black hole. That’s an abuse of the free-to-play system by the developer. This should be the main standpoint of every game studio that wants to sell something – provide ownership of these assets to their holders.”
Ownership and monetisation of game items are not limited to weapons. QORPO Game Studio, the team behind the free-to-play metaverse shooter game Citizen Conflict, allows players to own and even monetise large-scale maps.
QORPO’s team experience working on titles at Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Ubisoft and Riot Games inspired the concept of empowering players to own, customise and monetise items in a transparent environment. Users now contribute directly to the game’s evolution, while capturing monetisation opportunities in a fair system.
Roblox has 59.9 million daily active users, with 25 per cent of the game’s estimated revenue coming from the Roblox Marketplace. For Web3, the use of NFTs creates an ocean of opportunities for players to directly buy, sell and trade in-game items. This drives more liquidity of available game content, a heightened sense of scarcity and player-driven initiatives that enriches the game’s overall ecosystem.
Players can easily monetise their assets and even profiles on secondary NFT marketplaces. This means that users are no longer restricted to the game’s primary marketplace, which can have unattractive user policies. Content creators and publishers can launch their own digital collections and set royalty fees that generate revenue streams for the seller.
NFT marketplaces like QORPO Market also serve as a discovery platform for collectors to find rare digital game items. Avid collectors who don’t necessarily play games can still participate by trading NFTs, to support fellow users seeking to buy or sell game items.
The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has generated more than US$530 million in NFT trading volume, a strong signal on how NFT marketplaces can benefit gaming ecosystems.
Decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) are one of the most intriguing innovations in Web3. Any ecosystem, whether centralised or decentralised, requires a governing body if it’s going to be less chaotic.
DAO members have voting rights on important game decisions – from modifying the player rules to deciding on the project’s future roadmap. “DAO puts a vote on whether members want this update added to the game, and members vote. Once the guild voting ends, there is a verdict. Whether the vote passes or not, the decision was made by anonymous users, fully transparent, written on the blockchain, and managed by a smart contract,” says Bakala.
Play and Earn games with crypto and NFT rewards such as Decentraland have adopted the DAO contribution system as its decision-making system. In Citizen Conflict, users participate in the Citadel DAO to vote on the game’s aesthetics, marketing possibilities, or the future direction of the game.
Gaming communities are bringing their experiences to the SocialFi Metaverse. Here, players can form common rooms to share moments, just like they would in real life events, but now in meta-virtual environments that blend digital gaming with real people.
It is laying out new possibilities on how gamers engage with vibrant communities, and explore what it means to be part of a borderless network of players. An example is a hybrid e-sports experience that rewards fans who attend the tournament both in real life, and through the online e-sports metaverse streaming platform.
Web3 profiles ensure that players have a digital identity in the metaverse. The player’s reputation and achievements for instance are tracked autonomously via smart contracts. Thus, Web3 identities such as Citizen ID in Citizen Conflict improves the quality of players by weeding out cheaters, and promotes transparency for the entire community.
Immersive gaming is poised to take an alternative trajectory in the years to come, in tandem with Web3 enhancements. These are just a handful of gaming trends driving fundamental change – with more coming to fruition.
The content was first published by The Human & Machine.
Image Credit: The Human & Machine