We at PCGamesInsider.biz boast many talents but we cannot predict the future. Shocking, truly shocking, we know.
But while we don't have a crystal ball, we do have a group of incredibly smart industry folks at hand who have the knowledge and insight to predict what the trends that will shape the market in 2019 will be.
Unfortunately, the big trend in the coming years is going to be Netflix-style subscription models. We're already seeing it with offerings like Xbox Game Pass and Discord Nitro, players paying a monthly fee to get a ton of good games. It's great for the platform holders, but terrible for developers. If this trend continues as it is, in a couple of years we're going to be struggling even more to sell our games, and instead we'll have to haggle with big platforms to see how much money we can get for launching on their subscriptions services. It's gonna be grim!
I think we’re going to see a continued interest in the release of Western games in Asia, particularly China. The second half of 2018 proved particularly challenging for this given the freeze by Chinese authorities on issuing the necessary licenses, but there are indications this will begin to, slowly, resolve itself in 2019. The release of Valve’s ‘Steam China’, similar to Tencent’s WeGame platform, is also interesting and could be a major boon for accessing one of the world’s fastest growing gaming markets. That said, many questions remain regarding how exactly this will operate, particularly given Valve’s already-existing unofficial Steam marketplace operating in China.
Because there is an incubation period for games, as in when a trend hits, plenty of people pivotal but it takes time for their efforts to appear, 2019 will see a plethora of battle royale games and most of them will, sadly, fail. I think we'll also continue to see the rise of China and how the mass of that market starts to exert a gravitational warping-effect influence on global development - I say it that way because it's hard to know what that effect might be right now. Again for us UK based devs, as Brexit may, or may not, arrive in March 2019, we'll be dealing with whatever the politicians agree - or don't.
As the market space gets even more crowded for games on all fronts, I think there'll be a push for studios to find bigger entities to pair up with so they can gain the sheer numbers of visibility they need to create a successful launch. This could be traditional ones like Chucklefish working with Tencent to bring Stardew Valley to mobile in China, to devs working with a more varied audience or even industry adjacent influencers.
The predicted "fall" of Steam, and the shift towards all-you-can-play subscription models. The way we buy games is shifting, and I honestly don't know what model is going to become dominant, but I'm certain that the dominance of Steam is in question. I'm interested to watch what happens in the coming year. Things have the possibility of shifting dramatically.
The war for PC games distribution will break out into the open next year. So far, we’ve seen early opening moves; Epic announcing their new Steam-killer store, Discord ratcheting up its own digital retail offerings, Steam tweaking its share of sales for bigger games, Kongregate launching Kartridge, EA and Microsoft enhancing their subscription services, and Google and Microsoft warming up their ‘next gen’ cloud streaming services… 2019 will see how this war unfolds and how developers and players each respond to differing competitive offerings across price and features.
Esports will continue to grow as we have seen year on year since its conception. During Season 11 of the Intel Extreme Masters, we saw 53 per cent growth in live attendees with over 173,000 fans attending the event and 46million views online... We envisage an even bigger turnout in 2019..
Just like the movie industry, the IPs are going to rule it all. At some point, even the art-house indies are going to realise that all their favourite rock bands are IPs – so why shouldn’t they be?
I think one of the new challenge facing studios and publishers next year is the release of triple-A games that will be a lot more spread throughout the year. Red Dead Redemption 2 has pushed outside of the holiday season a number of large titles. I expect that to be a new trend: year-long releases of strong titles to compete against. Indirectly, and we don't know yet how Sony is planning to handle this, the fact that PlayStation won't be at E3 this year might be another sign of the games industry going a lot less seasonal.
I suspect we will also see fewer blockchain projects as the speculation around the technology starts dying