The PC Pulse

What will the biggest PC games trend of 2018 be? The experts speak

What will the biggest PC games trend of 2018 be? The experts speak

2017 was perhaps one of the most interesting years in the PC games space, as well as the industry at large, in recent memory.

We had a brand new genre seemingly come from nowhere and take over the world, while titles like Hellblade rewrote the script on what was possible in the indie and triple-A spaces respectively.

We have spoken to some of the smartest minds in the market to see what trends they think might define 2018.

If there's anything missing, or if you want to contribute, email [email protected]

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 More battle royale

    More battle royale logo

    Daniel Ahmad, Niko Partners

    Playerunknown’s Battleground (PUBG) was the hot topic of 2017. The game popularised the battle royale genre and sold 30 million units worldwide, including 10 million from China alone. The game is currently distributed unofficially via Steam in China. Tencent announced last year that it had obtained the licensing and distribution rights to PUBG in China. The company will launch the game in China later this month with official Chinese servers and localisation. The team has also committed to crack down on cheaters in the game using its anti cheat task force. More than 7 million users have registered for the PUBG beta in China so far.

    It’s clear that Tencent will be the leading publisher of PC battle royale games in China during 2018 with PUBG, but the company isn’t stopping there. Tencent has also introduced a battle royale mode for Call of Duty Online, an online version of the popular FPS that the company publishes in China. Tencent also plans to introduce H1Z1: King of the Kill and Fortnite: Battle Royale to China through publishing deals later this year. In addition to publishing licensed battle royale titles, Tencent is developing its own battle royale game for PC called ‘Europa’. The game plans to combine battle royale with air, land and sea battles. It’s clear that Tencent wants to dominate the battle royale genre on PC in China.

  • 2 More PC stores taking a piece of the pie and more Chinese games

    More PC stores taking a piece of the pie and more Chinese games logo

    Thomas Bidaux, Ico Partners

    PC games distribution has been very much still in the hands of Steam in 2017, but the space has been evolving, with a number of interesting trends that might carry on in 2018 for everyone to keep an eye on.

    New platforms
    With the very first non-Blizzard game released on with Destiny 2, Activision has opened the door for more of their games to forego Steam. In a possibly wider impactful way, Twitch will likely ramp up its efforts to become a major store for games. With its impressive reach with its pool of streamers, along with Amazon backing, it has a real shot at taking away market shares from Valve.

    Steam growth
    The number of releases on Steam has grown significantly last year through the new Steam Direct system, allowing anyone to publish on the platform. We went from roughly 90 to 100 games a week to now about 200 new games a week on the platform. The number of games doesn’t necessarily mean more players or sales happening on the platform, but the massive success of PUBG has driven a significant uptake of the number of Steam users. A lot of that growth has been coming from China, and it will likely keep growing this year. The increasing market share of Steam in China, combined with the Steam Direct open system, means also that we are seeing more and more Chinese games being released - with some of them not having an English version and showing strong numbers.


  • 3 More 'indie triple-A' games

    More 'indie triple-A' games logo

    Alice Bell,

    Last year the loot crates in Star Wars Battlefront II were the straw that broke the proverbial, and since then there've been intermittent threads on Twitter about how developers struggle to make their games profitable. Lucky, then, that one studio found a viable tactic: in 2017 Ninja Theory launched the 'independent triple-A' game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.

    A thoroughly well-made game, Hellblade tells the story of a Pictish warrior on a quest to save the soul of her lover from hell, whilst also struggling with her own mental health during a psychotic break. It was made by a team of around 20 people, released digitally only, and was priced competitively at £24.99. And it broke even in three months. Now that Ninja Theory has proven it can be done, and with some style, I'm predicting 2018 will be the return of the indie triple-A (or the double-A game, if you prefer). Studios are definitely thinking about it -- Platinum Games has already said it's interested in 'self-publishing and doing our own title'. Cheaper games that experiment with their themes and keep studios in profit without using loot crates? Bring it on.

  • 4 Nintendo's indie success is fleeting

    Nintendo's indie success is fleeting  logo

    Vitor De Magalhaes, Improbable

    If there's one company I believe can curate an online storefront worse than Valve, it's Nintendo. I foresee the current Switch gold rush creating huge issues for discoverability as the year progresses, although it'll still remain profitable for most up to and including the autumn.

  • 5 Return of browser-based games

    Return of browser-based games logo

    Ashley Gullen, Scirra

    I'd like to see more gaming happening on the web, but I think really the main obstacle is the fact everyone gets games off platforms like Steam or the various app stores. So even if the web has the technical capability to run awesome games, the fact everyone wants to publish them to stores will probably override that. Still, I think Steam is ripe for disruption - perhaps the web could play a part in that.

  • 6 PC will continue to be where innovation is at

    PC will continue to be where innovation is at  logo

    Mike Bithell, Bithell Games

    PC will continue to push boundaries and expectations in terms of pricing, mechanics and business models. I'm already seeing other people talking about short games, which excites me, and I think we're out there making a good case for them. Variety will define 2018 on PC.

  • 7 VR could play a bigger part in games, if the price is right

     VR could play a bigger part in games, if the price is right  logo

    Liam Dowe, Rift Group

    It’s a bit of a cliché answer but I believe if the price point can become realistic VR will play a larger part. With the release of some larger IPs in VR, price points on headset becoming slightly lower and the necessary hardware upgrades need to run the higher end VR headset I can see this only being a good thing for the industry.

  • 8 There could be an indie crash

    There could be an indie crash  logo

    Cliff Harris, Positech

    I strongly suspect a lot of small indie studios will go bust. The industry is so competitive right now and everyone is swamped with games. It cannot support the number of developers trying to make a living from it.

  • 9 People might stop denying the indiepocalypse is a thing

    People might stop denying the indiepocalypse is a thing  logo

    Jake Birkett, Grey Alien

    I think people will stop denying that the indiepocalypse is an actual thing. Pretty much every indie I speak to acknowledges that it's got harder to survive from making games. So I think we'll see a) more people dropping out and b) more consolidation and collaborations. In fact, I'm thinking of teaming up with some other indies for one or more games this year so that we can pool our resources and skills.

  • 10 There may be a load of smaller PC titles

    There may be a load of smaller PC titles  logo

    Ben Andac, Good Shepherd

    I think while we'll continue to see big open-ended multiplayer experiences like Playerunknown's Battlegrounds continue to thrive, that kind of game when repeated by others will likely fall by the wayside in many cases. We're also probably going to see a rise in shorter experiences on PC (and across the industry in general) - ones that present smaller, contained, vignette-like experiences that explore specific subjects and resonate with a large audience

  • 11 Games will face more scrutiny

    Games will face more scrutiny  logo

    Given the year that games had in 2017, I'm not sure it's controversial to say that video games are going to be under the microscope moving forwards. 

    The seemingly unstoppable loot crate scandal at the end of last year drew the attention of not just regional gambling commissions, but in some cases politicians and legislators, with calls for greater regulations in this space. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has drawn up draft definitions for additive gaming disorders as part of an update to their list of diseases.

    This attention has drawn criticism from sectors of the industry, who say that our market does not need tighter regulation, with others saying that if big companies can't behave and act in the interest of their consumers, then regulation is inevitable and that they brought it on themselves. 

  • 12 2018 could be another big crowdfunding year

    2018 could be another big crowdfunding year  logo

    The amount of money raised by crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Fig was flat last year, per research from Ico Partners. 2016 saw a dip from the frankly ridiculous amount of money that was raised in 2015, due to projects like Yooka-Laylee. 

    Crowdfunding works in a cyclical manner - 2012 was a big year for Kickstarter, but by 2014 think pieces were being written about the platform's demise. 2015 then went on to become its biggest year for games, three years on. 

    We're now three years from 2015, and it'll be interesting to see if things come back around.  

    Sure, there have been some disappointments, and projects like Mighty No.9 haven't done a great job of pitching the platform as a means for titles not supported by the triple-A games space to get made. But it would be foolish to rule this means of fundraising any time soon. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.