PC Gaming in 2021: The Games and the Gear
Say what you want about 2020, but there’s no denying that it was one of the biggest years on record for the global gaming industry. The industry surged by as much as 20% over the last 12 months and is now valued at just under $180 billion, according to IDC data.
Yes, video gaming has now become more popular with consumers than both the movie and sporting industries combined.
2020 also saw the release of some truly awesome PC games and gaming tech. Both Nvidia and AMD seriously upped their offerings with the GPUs and CPUs unleashed last year, while titles like Half Life: Alyx and Cyberpunk 2077 quickly established themselves as monster hits.
So, following such a mammoth year, what’s next for PC gaming in 2021, and what are the key game and gaming tech trends to keep an eye out for?
Gaming Trends to Watch in 2021
In the iGaming world, players want to be able to play games instantly from web and mobile devices. Gaming companies defined by accessibility have sustained the industry since the middle of the last decade, with platforms like PokerStars Casino meeting gamers’ demands for instantly-accessible online slot games and table games.
Here, in 2021, thanks to the likes of new cloud gaming platforms such as Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, gaming-on-demand, where users can access hundreds of games from cloud servers, similar to streaming subscription services, is set to become a hot PC gaming trend.
Next Gen Open Worlds
Open World Gaming has become a major trend in recent years, and it’s all set to reach a new level in 2021. We can expect to see the integration of AI to give gamers more control over gameplay, while larger and more seamless environments are expected thanks to next-gen SSDs.
Bethesda, open-world gaming pioneers, are playing their cards close to their chest about whether or not we’ll get an Elder Scrolls 6 in 2021. In the meantime, however, there’s Hogwarts Legacy, Far Cry 6 and Horizon Forbidden West to dive into.
CyberPunk is on the Rise
The smash-hit Cyberpunk 2077 has kicked off a resurgence of interest in the cyberpunk subgenre, so we’re expecting to see indie developers jumping on board the trend in 2021. BlueTwelve’s Stray, for example, takes a more radical approach to the genre by featuring a stray cat as the game’s protagonist.
For new releases, we can look forward to Death Trash, The Last Night, and The Ascent.
Gaming Tech on the Horizon in 2021
Given that it’s been on a slow climb for the last decade, interest in Virtual Reality as gaming technology has finally begun to boom. VR is becoming more widely available, and the technology itself is getting better at simulating real-life experiences. Augmented and Mixed reality are also gaining speed, as manufactures look for new ways to blur the lines between the real world and the digital one.
Oculus Quest 2 has already been rolled out, promising higher refresh rates, while Facebook is expected to launch AR glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban. We can also expect to see smartphone-tethered VR headsets make a bit of a splash as 5G continues to roll out throughout 2021.
Next-Gen Gaming Laptops
Following the spate of next-gen GPUs released for the PC last year, in 2021 a key tech trend will be next-gen gaming laptops. Powerful graphics cards and processors are finally going to be shrunk down and incorporated into gaming laptops, and we could see something as powerful as an RTX 3080 equivalent combined with an OLED 4K display.
Speculation aside, we do know that we should be getting a good look at RTX 30-powered laptops during CES 2021, so we can expect manufacturers to put out retail models soon after.
Retro Gaming Consoles
For as long as the gaming industry exists it seems there will always be an interest in taking a trip down memory lane. We’ve seen mini consoles from classic gaming houses like Sony, SEGA, and Nintendo hit the market in recent years, but a new Atari hybrid will put retro gaming in the hands of PC gamers.
The Atari VCS is a console/PC hybrid that genuinely hearkens back to the early days of PC gaming. We’re also looking forward to Intellivision Amico, which, despite not being a PC compatible console, is still an intriguing release that will run classic 2D titles.