1. Growing emphasis on transmedia to expand franchises further
We’ve seen across our research that the richness of a game universe can encourage longer term engagement from players – as players are keen to explore the lore and characters further, uncovering little clues throughout a game and piecing timelines together.
The concept of transmedia allows players to explore these universes even further, outside of the games. From podcasts and comics, to series and films, players can engage with many forms of media, in order to learn more about their favourite characters and the world they play in.
One example we saw of this at Gamescom was the Little Nightmare’s franchise, which not only showcased a thrilling game trailer for its third edition of the video game series, but also for a six-part ‘Sounds of Nightmares’ podcast. The lore behind Little Nightmares runs quite deep, and the podcast series allows players to explore in a completely different way from the unnarrated games. It also helps build even more excitement and early buy-in for the main game release.
2. Farming Simulator ploughing its own furrow
Despite the first release being back in 2008, Farming Simulator is a franchise continuing to expand its highly passionate fanbase. This was evident at Gamescom with Farming Simulator hats never far from view and big crowds chanting around the Farming Simulator stage. The game even has a dedicated eSports league where players competitively farm in mini matches. So what is it that draws players to what some would consider a very niche title?
Farming Simulator is far from the many AAA action-packed games lining the Gamescom halls, but not every player wants that type of game all the time. Most gamers are playing a wide array of titles, from candy crush to Elden Ring. Often, it comes down to the player’s mood, and sometimes you just want to play a calm game at the end of the day to unwind. This is what Farming Simulator does well; the gameplay is highly methodical, almost meditative, offering a contrast to many other high-intensity games. The satisfaction of focusing solely on ploughing a field and feeling a sense of achievement at the end of the day is unlike many other gaming experiences. It shows the diversity of gaming, and that even niche titles can gain cult followings.
3. Immersion at every turn
Wherever you looked at Gamescom 23 there were studios and publishers looking to bring gamers the most immersive experience possible. This was not only through the ever-expanding number of VR headsets and games, but also through accessories and peripherals.
Seats like the TEMPUR and Xbox ‘Dream Chair’ for the long-awaited Starfield aims to transport gamers to their own spaceship cockpit! While, Samsung also showcased how they are taking immersion to the next level with their new curved gaming monitors Odyssey Neo G9's and Odyssey Ark both standing at a whopping 57 and 55 inches respectively. These innovations bring gamers closer to titles, let’s just hope they’ve got enough floor space for them!
4. 3D printing is expanding gaming possibilities
Now we know that 3D printing is certainly not a new technology anymore, but there is ever expanding potential with this in terms of gaming. We spoke to one developer at Gamescom who had recently created their own 3D printed weapon which could be attached to two VR controllers to create a highly realistic shooter game experience.
The weapon itself was a relatively simple design - a lightweight plastic form - but when attached to the VR controls, it delivered another level of immersive VR gameplay. The gameplay was similar to other VR shooters, but holding what felt like an actual weapon in your hands and reloading with a small jerk of the front controller gave a more real impression of reloading in the middle of battle. Whether this type of accessory can be produced on a mass scale is yet to be seen, but the added level of immersion brought by this simple accessory suggests we can expect to see more 3D prints in the future.
5. Entertainment brands wanting a piece of the gaming pie
It is no longer only about gaming when it comes to the largest gaming event of the year. Entertainment brands such as Netflix and Amazon have recognised the potential crossover of their viewership and the gaming audience.
At this year’s expo, it was hard to miss Netflix’s experiential booths based on some of their most popular franchises: Squid Game, Stranger Things, Wednesday, The Witcher. While some of these franchises do have video game products, the booths seemed to focus on the series. In fact, Netflix’s big announcement was for the new streaming series Rebel Moon. With rumours of a Rebel Moon video game already in development, could this be a hint of Netlfix moving into cloud gaming, offering more than just mobile games.