It might still be early to make a forecast on all the gaming trends that are likely to play out in 2022 but these are some interesting times and there’s action on multiple fronts. From AR to the Metaverse, there’s everything in the mix:

AR and VR might gather more steam

We’ve been waiting for Augmented and Virtual Reality gaming to truly hit its stride. While the numbers haven’t yet justified predictions and optimism of analysts, there’s still no solid alternative for an immersive first-person video game playing experience. This optimism is reflected in a recent report by Industry ARC that predicts an 18.5 percent CAGR for AR and the VR video game market between 2021 and 2026. The report expects the market to hit $11 million by 2026. It also predicts that a rising demand for AR in the mobile gaming, as well as the larger world of gaming, will drive the market growth through the usage of head-mounted displays.

VR image from Oculus

The Web 3.0 and the Metaverse will impact VR adoption and sales

According to the NPD Group (a leading retail tracking group), VR/AR hardware and accessories sales doubled during the five-week holiday period from the week of Thanksgiving through Christmas. Sales units and dollar sales were up 180 percent and 153 percent, respectively, compared to 2020. Facebook’s rebranding as Meta is just one of the major developments from 2021 that is seeing a growing interest in the Metaverse. NPD predicts that the Metaverse, VR/AR, and smart glasses will be areas to watch in 2022.

There may not be one shared Metaverse right now but many companies are trying to get there. Games like Fortnite or Minecraft already have big user bases, detailed worlds, and user-generated content. Facebook is also positing itself towards the Metaverse with its virtual reality social media platform, Horizon (currently in beta), and Live Maps. Niantic, Magic Leap, Microsoft and many others are working on it too. There’s a whole bunch of headsets in the pipeline, including Sony’s PS VR 2 and Meta’s Cambria.

Changes in Apple and Google’s closed App store ecosystems

Just last week, Microsoft announced new app store rules. “We’re announcing a new set of Open App Store Principles that will apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows and to the next-generation marketplaces we will build for games.” It comes in the backdrop of the growing chatter around the Apple vs Epic lawsuit.  Pressure could build on Google and Apple from companies like Epic and regulators to open their platforms. Some experts predict that while we see some changes in 2022, it’s unlikely that big changes will come before 2023.

Puzzle gaming on the rise

We’ve all been swept by Wordle mania during the past few weeks. While the New York Times acquisition might have upset many Wordle fans, it was inevitable. Statista projects revenues from the puzzle video game segment will cross $33 billion by 2025 up from $20.68 billion in 2021; ‘social games’ will dominate that growth.

WORDLE

Cloud gaming continues to grow

Internet and server speeds have improved and storage constraints in consoles are seeing cloud gaming gaining further traction. You don’t need to download or buy a game, you can stream it in real-time instead. It’s not just gamers who are buying in, streaming services give companies like Sony a recurring revenue stream. It’s also opening up a potential revenue stream for streaming players like Netflix. Statista pegs the global cloud gaming market at $6.5 billion by 2024, a huge jump from the $1.5 billion in 2021.

Franchise and reboot power

It’s not just Hollywood, the gaming industry is also cashing in on classic games with new versions. From Prince of Persia, that’s all set to return with Sands of Time to the 2001 RPG classic Gothic many golden oldies are getting a reboot.

PRINCE OF PERSIA