Since 2020, the world has been dealing with a pandemic that has impacted the economy greatly and led to significant changes. One of the most transformative things the world did was go into lockdown. Many industries, especially those that enable people to be home and continue to lead relatively normal lives, thrived during the pandemic.
During that time, the only forms of entertainment available to many people have included games and streaming shows on personal devices. It doesn’t take long to notice that the improvements made have changed games for the better, in many cases, and made them more enjoyable.
The video game industry recently saw the announcement and release of the PS5, the Xbox Series X and S, and brought the latest Unreal Engine update (Nanite) which, among many other improvements, changes how realistic games or special effects in video production can get and also tweaks the level of detail presented.
We are going to look at some of the best innovations, improvements, and technologies that have been regarded as game changers in recent times. Our focus is on the game, the technology that drives them, consoles, and augmentation, which pushes us even closer to hyper-realistic in-game experiences.
1. Consoles (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X & S)
Consoles have been moving from strength to strength with the biggest players, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, releasing their latest consoles within months of each other. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X came in various iterations but both have support for the latest gaming technology. They are packed to the gills with features and hardware gamers had been waiting to see for almost ten years.
Past consoles promised to give gamers full HD 1080p gaming with better graphics and the ability to play online. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X truly delivered the ability to play games in 4K at 60 and 120 Frames Per second on some titles when using the new HDMI 2.1 Cable with displays that support the resolution.
Speaking of HDMI technology, one of the most-hyped releases was the HDMI 2.1.
2. HDMI 2.1
The average consumer may not be able to tell the difference between their HDMI cable and the benefit espoused by HDMI 2.1. However, gamers who use the cable know it makes a world of difference. It is now supported by several prominent devices including the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, bleeding-edge GPUs (including AMD Radeon RX 6800XT and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080), and a wide array of TVs.
Since it is not a widely advertised addition, you could even buy one and not be aware that’s what you got. So, let’s list some of its prominent benefits:
- Users experience smoother gameplay and higher-resolution video, given that HDMI 2.1 delivers 60fps and 120fps, which translates to smoother images.
- There is support for content going all the way up to 8K, making the cable future-proof for a considerable amount of time, since 4K is only just gaining prevalence among consumers and displays manufacturers.
- HDMI 2.1 comes with eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which means audio from a source goes through the TV and to the speaker or A/V receiver for an enhanced audio experience.
- HDMI VRR (variable refresh rate) means that the rendering does not display a rigid number of frames per second, which would not be great for gaming, but rather a varying number of frames depending on what the game is like for a smoother visual experience.
The whole point of having HDMI 2.1 is to take advantage of all the new capabilities that display, consoles, games, and speakers offer.
3. Live Casino Gaming
One of the smartest moves and potential game changers is undoubtedly the gradual adoption of the latest gaming technology by the Live Casino Gaming segment. The best online casinos of 2022 introduce and continue to adopt new technologies to make the online casino experience even better. Although Live Casino Gaming is relatively new, it already incorporates the best-in-class technologies including:
- Cameras – The live component calls for cameras to stream the game to various players across vast distances. For instance, the roulette table features three cameras for an overview, the table, the wheel, and a picture-in-picture display.
- Game Control Unit – The GCU enables the casino to encode the video streamed out to players. Without it, no live game is possible.
- Wheel – Casinos can also get wheels with built-in sensors that interact with the casino software to deliver a realistic game experience.
Other amazing gaming technologies include:
- Mobile Gaming – It used to be that the best gaming experience, especially for resource-intensive games, happened almost entirely on PC and consoles. Now, mobile games continue to improve, with titles like Call of Duty and PUBG amassing an incredibly large mobile gaming base.
- High-Definition Display Technology – The TVs, monitors, and other gaming displays continue to improve resolution and use more efficient refresh rate technologies.
- Cloud Gaming – Instead of making video games that need more powerful hardware to run with every generation, game development companies now host powerful games on remote servers and deliver the experience through the internet directly to gamers. To account for this, the Play Station was released in two iterations that include the Standard model (which can play online and read discs), as well as the Digital version which is purely for online play.
- Cross-Platform Gaming – There was a time when gamers on different platforms could not play the same game or interact with each other. Now, gamers can play cross-platform games with friends who don’t run the game on the same console. This, just like cloud gaming, requires the gamers to have a strong internet connection.
4. Virtual Reality (VR)
The idea of immersion into games is not a new one. But it was not until recently that gamers were able to take away those physical boundaries set by the size and frame of their displays and be inside the game. Virtual reality is gaining momentum not just as a gaming technology, but also as a way for the world to immerse itself into a virtual reality alternate world.
Virtual worlds aside, VR gaming picked up momentum when the first Oculus headset was released. Gamers weren’t completely sold on the idea, but it had its audience. The amount of money the headsets and their rigs required was a little higher than what most gamers could afford.
Most of the people who have encountered VR either played at a friend’s house, at a tournament with a VR angle, or at gaming expos.
However, since the world is about to be shunted into the virtual realities Facebook (Meta Platforms) and other companies are planning, the VR headsets have dropped in price, with the PlayStation VR set going for $300 and the HTC Vive going for around $600.
5. Augmented Reality (AR)
One of the best examples of augmented reality in gaming is Pokémon Go. The game was awesome for some time, allowing people to see the Pokémon transposed onto real environments. Its applications continue to be applied in other uses but it’s hard to doubt that the technology will become widespread once it is more portable (as in with glasses that are easy to carry, wear and to be used in the real world). VR headsets can do that but are still maturing.
6. Video Game Graphics
Remember the Atari 2600? Back then, gaming consoles were limited in their processing power. We have come a long way since the first generations. Bit technology improved, which allowed developers to move away from 8-bit graphics with their limited colors and visual capabilities to 16-bit 32-bit and now even the 64-bit technology.
What we ended up with, in the present, is the ability to create realistic 3D images, enhance color depth, improve visuals to produce realistic environments, and use power and memory better.
It is almost comical how hard it is to find the most coveted GPUs, which tells you just how much the graphics have matured. Throw in the introduction of Unreal Engine’s Nanite and you have images good enough to be on a TV show or a movie (and they have been).
7. The Unreal Engine
We have to give Unreal Engine a separate mention. The problem with games has been that even though gamers couldn’t perceive the entire game environment in the most resource-intensive games, the game would still render elements the gamer could not perceive.
Nanite, which is a geometry system changing the gaming landscape, uses AI to render details on a pixel-level as well as high object counts. Only the parts of the environment that can be perceived are rendered.
Nanite combines all of that with efficiency compression to support fine-details streaming and improve the in-play visual experience. The benefits include:
- An unprecedented increase in environmental complexity to promote realism
- Frame budgets are no longer limited by draw cells, mesh memory usage, or polycounts
- The loss of quality is rare and pretty much nonexistent.
The game/rendering exhibitions we have seen so far show the technology is a revolutionary step into a more immersive future in gaming.
What does the future hold?
Over the past few decades, gaming technology has gone from strength to strength, bringing gamers closer together while enhancing the experience. The increased availability of the games and devices used to play them have matured enough to allow more demographics, like older people and young women, to join in.
Speed, realism, accessibility, cheaper technologies, and other advancements will continue to get better as we enter the age of AI and machine learning.
We truly believe there is more to come… and we are here for it!