What's the next big gimmick?

Roberto Guedes: Maybe things like 3D and Kinect being used in a deeper way. Using to solve puzzles, create new genres and new styles of gameplay!

Joel Windels: I'm still yet to be convinced about Cloud gaming, but I don't want to suggest that is entirely a gimmick as I'm not too familiar with the technology or the market. I suppose the easy answer here is to say 3D, if you don't count that gimmick as one already in the present. I think we'll see another 3D device in the next couple of years, as the early steps into 3D by Microsoft and Sony have been fairly tepid so far. The next wave of consoles are almost certain to include further forays into the third dimension, though whether the demand from the average gamer is strong enough for 3D to become an established aspect of gaming, only time will tell. Personally, although open to it in principal, I have no desire to play games in 3D and have not witnessed anything to change my mind yet.

Ian Cummings: I personally believe this 3D fad will die a relatively quick death, and I think the novelty of motion control won't really last (at least for core gamers), so I think the next big gimmick could possibly be in biometrics. I could totally see controllers with heart rate & sweat monitors that can feed information back into the game to tell game makers how their consumers are currently FEELING about the game...not just how they're playing it. Kind of a stretch but not out of the realm of possibility.

Greg Kasavian: I think the next big gimmick is augmented reality games. Games have the potential to transport players into completely different worlds. The idea of there being tons of games that project themselves onto the real world to me isn't that much more exciting than there being a ton of military shooters set in Iraq. To some extent I fear they're all going to feel the same. That being said, I know there exist some very cool applications for augmented reality, I'm just not convinced that it's a great direction for games. I'm open to be proven wrong on that one though.

Derek Paxton: Free to Play (F2P). But I don't think "gimmick" is a good way to describe since it offers a lot of opportunities (better post release support, focus on gameplay instead of features or franchises, focus on a tight design, the game as marketing) as well as some risks (handicapped designs, doesn't work well for some game types). It is a business model, good in some situations and bad in others. I am sure it will be poorly implemented in some games and we have already seen examples of games that use it well.

I know F2P isn't the "next" thing since it is already in use with some high profile games. But I expect that we will see a lot more companies going that direction in the next 5 years.

Jon Shafer: That really depends on your definition of gimmick. Coming from the perspective as a hardcore strategy game player and creator, 3D could fall into that category. It's neat, but really doesn't affect the decision-making of the player, which is the meat of any strategy experience. I've seen a few different games in 3D and it's a neat effect, but it doesn't do much for me as a gamer or inspire new ideas as a designer.

Bobby Stein (Lead Writer, Guild Wars 2): Gimmick has some negative connotations, so I'd rather say these things are evolving innovations.

Living worlds are the logical progression for online games. If you can build a hugely interactive world and give players the proper social interaction tools, you've created a platform with long-lasting potential. I never thought that my father would get into online games as a 60-something retiree, yet he's sunk over 2,000 hours into Guild Wars to date. The more we evolve the MMO genre, the more we grow the audience.

As much as some folks like to snicker at motion and gesture control, I believe for certain gaming experiences these types of input will continue to evolve whether they are camera, touch screen, or gyroscopic in design. We've known for years that using a mouse for PC gaming had lots of possibilities, and developers continue to experiment with new approaches to user interaction. If a particular input feels natural for a given experience, it's worth trying on the platform that makes the most sense in ways that don't feel forced.

The industry is bigger and games cost more to make now than ever before, but are games more fun? Less? Or the same?

Roberto Guedes: Some games try to be way too much like movies, or even the real world, but the truth is that we don't make them for people to play like movies or simulation. They are interested in interacting with a new world, being someone that they couldn't be in the real world, and, above all, in having fun. But I don't think that games are more or less fun today in general. Especially because indie developers can take more risks and innovate where AAA studios can't.

Joel Windels: I believe that the changing environment and rising costs of AAA game development is meaning that publishers are now somewhat risk-averse. It's more important to guarantee the success of a game than it is to experiment with radical or genre-evolving innovations, so that the studio can survive to produce another title. It's a shame in some ways, but the opening up of the development industry to amateurs and low-budget companies through channels like Steam, the App store, IndieCity, and XBLIG absolutely counters the lack of innovation in mainstream games. Success stories like Minecraft and Game Dev Story are testaments to the diversity of the industry, and prove there are still countless avenues for innovation, evolution, and excitement, even if the big releases are playing it safe. Safe doesn't mean bad either - it's fantastic that at one end of the market, you get these beautiful, polished blockbusters that have cost millions of dollars, but also these wonderful little gems at the other end of the spectrum. There truly is quality at every level, and something for everyone.

I also think the the shuffling that has occurred in the industry over the past ten years has also managed to produce the best generation of games we've ever seen. I can list a handful of classics for each and every platform for the last twenty years, but when you look at this era of consoles, there are at least thirty games deserving of a 90%+ review grade. We've also seen entire franchises develop over the course of a single generation, so that when you look at Call of Duty 2, it's amazing to think that Black Ops is still essentially a same-platform sequel. Despite my previous comments about publishers not risking too much, and going for polish over innovation, it largely only applies to third-party developers. The giants of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have been admirably bold in pursuing novel input devices and software, and I believe the games industry has never been in better shape.

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