How the 2010s Changed the Gaming Industry, For Better and Worse

A lot can change in ten years. As we enter a new decade and count down to the debut of the Xbox Series X and PS5, let's look back on the technology of the 2010s that has transformed the gaming industry – in good fortune and misfortune.

Virtual reality

A decade ago the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii started their twilight years, PC gaming was reportedly in decline and everyone who said VR was probably talking about the Virtual Boy or Johnny Mnemonic. But in 2012, Oculus revealed the Rift, a virtual reality device that really wanted to achieve presence – the feeling of putting on a headset to be present in a virtual world.The success of the Rift would determine much of the decade when it comes to technical innovation. VR was announced as the next limit in gaming, and Valve and Sony soon followed their own VR headsets. However, slow user acceptance has prevented most developers from devoting important resources to making VR games. And without games, people have no reason to buy the headsets. Chicken egg. But no matter how you look at it, VR is there to stay, and with the announcement of Half-Life Alyx within a few months, VR may finally have the great app it needs to reach critical mass. Probably.

Could be.

Mid-Generation console upgrades

The last decade has also redefined what a generation of game consoles actually is. Every generation before the PS3 and Xbox 360 had a clear dividing line from one to the next – after all, you couldn't play Ocarina of Time on a Super Nintendo. But the PS4 and Xbox One have changed things. Or more specifically, the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. For the first time we had new consoles that were more powerful than their predecessors, but otherwise not noticeably different. There are no exclusive PS4 Pro or games that require an Xbox One X – they just look better and play better if you have the more powerful machine. In other words, almost exactly how things work on a PC.

PC accessibility and streaming games

Speaking of PC, the last decade heralded a true golden age of PC gaming. Indie games flourished thanks to the availability of powerful development tools, along with the continued emergence of digital stores such as Steam

. Moreover, thanks to Double Fine, Kickstarter also opened a new way for small developers to access financing. Of course, PC & # 39; s have also become much more powerful. Where 1080p at 60 fps used to be the gold standard, those numbers are now quite a pedestrian for high-end machines. 1440p and 4K and not to mention ridiculously high frame rates, and even ray tracing, are now more than achievable.In the meantime there is a new player in the block: Stages. A handful of services have done their best to stream games over the past decade, but Google Stages is the first to really swing at the gates. The service still has a long way to go to really succeed, but for now it is an incredible technical achievement that has the potential to shape the game industry for years to come. Just like VR ten years ago, game streaming is not yet ready for prime time, but it is a glimpse of a possible future in which consoles and PCs are a thing of the past.

Nintendo & # 39; s Ups and Downs

Nintendo has done its own thing all this time. All the way back to Wii, Nintendo has positioned itself as a maker of unconventional, sometimes downright crazy, but always fun hardware. The Wii U was largely a failure, but the spirit of a combination tablet console lives on in the Switch. I grew up playing Tetris on Game Boy in the back seat of my mother's car. The fact that I can now play a complete Legend of Zelda in an airplane or – let's be real – on the couch while Netflix is ​​playing on TV – is nothing short of amazing. As far as wacky tech is concerned, Ring Fit Adventure and its resistance-based Ring-Con bring the torch lit by Wii Fit and its Balance Board.

Accessible controllers

And while we're talking about cool peripherals, controllers have actually evolved a bit for the first time in a while, thanks to the addition of paddles and trigger stops at the back of the Xbox Elite. Sony has followed the example with the new DualShock 4-back button attachment, and although we haven't seen the PS5 controller yet, it wouldn't surprise me if back buttons and trigger stops are included as standard. Meanwhile, the Xbox Adaptive Controller from Microsoft is a fantastic leap to make games more inclusive for people with disabilities.Between more Nintendo shenanigans, VR, streaming and of course next-gen consoles, it has never been a more exciting and innovative time in games – and we can't wait to see what next time is.

Which innovations from 2010 are you most grateful for? What do you want us to do? leave in the last decade? Let us know in the comments and view all major releases coming this year, plus the unannounced games we want to see this year!

Bo Moore is the Executive Tech Editor of IGN and is currently searching all technological wonders that can be seen at CES 2020. You can ask him what he finds coolest on Twitter.

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