While the next generation of console gaming is on the way, the present state of the entire gaming industry is still an incredibly interesting topic of study when looking into how the space has transformed over the last decade.
Perhaps the defining term for how the industries of gaming have evolved over the last ten years is ‘hybridization.’ Those who pioneered new ways to make their platforms capable of becoming hybrid models have risen to the fore, with some standing as unique in their sector while others have set what are now must-have traits across their respective sectors.
There will, undoubtedly, be even bigger and better technological revelations come through as gaming continues to develop. Still, for now, the hybridization of gaming platform tech is the defining force of the entertainment medium.
Hybridization utilised in the online space
Easily the most expansive space for gaming that boasts the most potential, still, is that of online gaming. With the internet always becoming more powerful alongside the base power of access devices like phones, tablets, and computers, online gaming platforms have quickly been able to expand into new areas to hybridize their offerings.
In the early days of the gaming sector, iGaming saw the majority of its platforms specialize in a certain form of game to stand out as unique in an ever-crowded space. Nowadays, pioneering platforms that opted to become hybrid, all-encompassing platforms early are more appealing to players. Those that offer new live dealer and slot games alongside standard online table games and classic slots like Blood Suckers, Joker Strike, Space Race, and Vampire: The Masquerade – Las Vegas have become the big brands in the current space.
Of course, the fullest extent of hybridization for online gaming platforms is to become compatible across mobile, tablet, and computer. In console gaming, many perceived the console unit as having reached its potential, with the best improvements coming within the unit – Nintendo thought otherwise.
Hybridization of the hardware
Famous for their pioneering motion-controlled Wii and extensive line of handheld game devices, Nintendo opted to blend motion-control compatibility, home console playability, and the portable nature of mobiles to form the Nintendo Switch. It has been a revelation in gaming, with games like Pokémon finally playable on a TV, Ring Fit Adventure making full-use of the motion controls, and vast open-world games like The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being playable on the go.
The innovation of the hardware – backed by a strong flow of incredible games – has seen the Switch outsell the home console market’s dominant force, the PlayStation 4, at the same point in their respective lifetimes. The PS4 hit 50 million consoles sold just 37 months after release. Just past its 33-month birthday, a Nintendo Q3 financials announcement declared that their console had already sold over 52.48 million.
The hybrid nature of the Nintendo Switch has driven it to surging sales throughout its still young lifetime, and yet, in terms of hybridization, it is following the example set by the PlayStation 4. In October 2016, half-a-year before the Switch came out, Sony went big on making the PS4 a hybrid console for console gaming and as a base for virtual reality gaming. Still very expensive technology – but cheap on the VR market – PlayStation VR has surpassed five million units sold, all of which require the PS4 to operate.
It’s a small piece of the 100 million-plus in unit sales, but simply knowing that one could get into VR gaming if an appealing title is released – such as the upcoming Iron Man VR – can be a major selling point for a console. It has certainly worked for the Switch and will have worked for Sony’s console while it was battling the Xbox One.
Hybridization to continue to drive gaming
Hybridization has defined the last decade of gaming, with innovative platform owners looking to blend gaming formats and types of games together to offer a more all-in-one experience. This will continue to be the driving force, even with gaming industries continuing to expand.
Perhaps the most interesting space to watch will be that of mobile games. Platforms like Apple Arcade are trying to legitimize the mobile platform as a real gaming platform with their top-class premium games. Maybe we’ll see them try to hybridize the offering from just Apple devices to be usable on smart TVs, with the device as the controller while the game’s played on the TV.