The year 2012 was an interesting year for gaming and there were a lot of quality games released throughout the calendar year, but a lot more than just games happened in 2012. In fact, there were a bunch of trends throughout the industry that helped to define the year in gaming more so than the games themselves were. Before we can look forward into the next year, it is important to understand some of the big trends of 2012 and what to expect for the upcoming year.
1. Mobile Gaming — More than just about anything else we’ve seen the rise of mobile gaming. Sure, Mobile Gaming is far from a new concept and there have been discussions for quite a number of years now about how it could be the future of gaming alongside of social gaming. The facts are that we’ve seen social games fall to the wayside while smartphones keep improving and the cost keeps dropping. Larger game companies like Rockstar and Square Enix have been releasing full ports of older games and are seeing moderate success with them. It is safe to say that we’ll only see more growth and innovation as the smartphone market continues to grow.
2. Crowdfunding — One of the biggest stories of 2012 was how Tim Shafer’s Double Fine took to Kickstarter to fund an upcoming adventure game title and raised millions and millions of dollars. The truth is, the gaming industry is beginning to find itself and while big publishers have their time and place, not all projects are ones that big publishers are going to pick up, and that doesn’t mean that they aren’t great games. Studios having the ability to fund their own titles and have complete control over them while being able to deliver them to fans that want the games is a huge, huge thing. Major publishers might not see the value in certain games or genres, but that doesn’t mean that there is no audience for them. Since then we’ve seen so many Kickstarter projects and while not all of them are successful, gamers are able to vote for what they want with their money unlike ever before.
3. The Rise of Indie Games — The independent game is another concept that is far from new, but we saw a surge within the world of indie games thanks to a few factors. Platforms like Steam have been around and have had a good deal of success, as have Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, but this year saw a good number of games that were from smaller developers gain a lot of traction. You know the games, ones like Minecraft, Retro City Rampage, Journey, Fez and many more. There was a lot of quality on the indie games front and more and more exposure for these games. It didn’t hurt that Indie Game The Movie was released this year and followed the development of Super Meat Boy and Fez, either.
4. Digital Distribution — Digital distribution becoming more and more prevalent is another reason why smaller games have picked up steam over the past year; there is simply more access to games via download. Sure, there were a select number of new, AAA titles available on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, but more and more games are being sold as digital downloads now and it has become a lot more common for gamers to purchase their games via download.
It was an interesting year for gaming in 2012 and while a lot more happened than just these things, these are some of the big ones that will continue on into 2013 and only help the gaming industry to grow and flourish.