State of Multiplayer - Edgegap’s 2024 Predictions
Dec 14, 2023
A new year means only one thing for a technology company – predictions. We pooled our team and asked what they expect for the video game industry and cloud hosting in 2024. Ranked from least to most controversial.
Indies will fill the innovation void of AAA Games
As major players in the gaming industry grapple with the challenges of delivering AAA projects in a changing work environment, alongside the natural slump following the major “developed during COVID” releases in 2023, the void is increasingly being filled by the emergence of games like Battle Bits.
These independently crafted projects will capture a lot of attention amongst the vocal “core gamers” audience (especially on PC) thanks to innovative gameplay hooks that will reach a wider audience. This will be amplified by independent studio’s increased ability to developer large scale games that are almost matching visually the AAAs by embracing the engines and technologies (such as Unreal’s Reality Scan or MetaHuman) that helps them develop high-fidelity games.
As noted by Soliton Interactive, a 10-person studio, embracing and carefully picking the tools, services and partners needed to craft their game allows smaller developers to stay on time and budget. As resources come at a premium for small teams, and crucial decisions must be made as a new studio with literally everything to build, embracing new technologies and partners will help them ship games at scale.
The rise of Medium Budget Games
The same way Unity’s store had a massive impact on indie game development, enabling millions of game developers to leverage the work of others to develop their games more quickly, Epic Games' strategic investment in its store ecosystem is poised to have a transformative impact on the AA (mid-budget) gaming market, exemplified by titles like Robocop: Rogue City.
By committing substantial resources to enhance its platform, Epic aims to provide a robust infrastructure that empowers developers to create and distribute high-quality games efficiently.
Additionally, beyond the asset stores, the improved visibility, marketing tools, and revenue-sharing models offered by the Epic Games Store can elevate these titles and allowing them to compete with larger AAA counterparts.
Epic’s investment not only fosters a more equitable distribution of success but also encourages innovation and diversity in gaming content by helping game studios to access more margins on their sales. As Epic Games continues to fortify its store ecosystem, the AA market stands to benefit significantly, providing developers with the means to thrive with a greater share of their game’s sales revenue. Their recent victory against Google will certainly help democratizing distribution and help their own marketplace thrives.
FaaS is Rising, but Not Thriving Yet
Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) is undeniably on an upward incline, marking a notable evolution in cloud computing. Yet, despite its growing influence, it may fall short of achieving critical mass in 2024.
FaaS, which enables developers to execute individual functions in response to events without managing the underlying infrastructure, has gained traction in gaming for its scalability and cost-effectiveness.
However, the remaining almost impossible challenges involved in transitioning entire gaming ecosystems to FaaS, and the necessity for further improvements to managed services, especially in terms of performance and security, will hamper its widespread adoption amongst games. Further more, FaaS is not made for every game genre, and requires special technical skills which are still specific to the vendor the studio is dealing with.
The Rise of Game Developers for Dedicated Games
A new wave of game developers will raise to mainstream prominence, propelling studios dedicated to specific gaming platforms like Roblox or Hiber into mainstream success. Creating an interesting challenging to the predominance of traditional game engines such as Unity or Unreal when it comes to game development.
This will be accelerated in 2024 due to two factors:
With waves of layoffs, many junior developers have been unable to access to jobs in the gaming industry.
Younger developers are par of the cohort of gamers primarily ask for game subscriptions and virtual currency, rather than for a new game.
The unique ecosystems offered by platforms like Roblox and Hiber cater to a burgeoning community of creators who find the streamlined development processes and built-in audiences highly appealing.
This shift reflects a growing trend where developers, particularly those entering the industry, are drawn to the specialized features and user-friendly interfaces of these platform-centric studios.
As a result, these non-traditional gaming platforms are carving out their niche, providing fertile ground for innovation and enabling developers to reach broader audiences seamlessly.
Most recently, GameFam made waves thanks to their Bakugan Roblox integration which saw 1.5 billion global engagements on the platform.
AR + VR = XR
While the third wave of headsets, exemplified by Apple's Vision Pro and META's Quest 3, hints at the future potential of mixed reality, it's evident that achieving the ultimate goal of mixed reality that can be used every day is still far away.
These cutting-edge devices offer glimpses into the immersive possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), showcasing advancements in hardware capabilities, user experience, and content delivery.
Yet, the promise of mixed reality that seamlessly blend digital overlay atop our everyday “physical” experience remains a complex challenge that extends beyond the current hardware capabilities – as best demonstrated by Apple’s keynote highlighting use on a comfortable sofa.
This is primarily due to each device’s limited “local” computing power that can’t handle the computing needs of overlaying, in real time, UI and responsive applications with “reality”. This only further highlights the need for greater integration of cloud computing, as only external hardware can enable these headsets to offload complex computational tasks, ensuring seamless and immersive experiences that demand minimal on-device processing power.
Thus, distributed workloads closer to users that lower latency between input, compute and delivery is critical for the cloud to enable real-time interaction capabilities. We bet that market is paying attention to the cloud gaming market, which suffers from those problems and still try to recover to find the right niche.
Web3 Games Taking a Playbook of “Web2”
Web 3 games, due to increased capital pressure, must evolve and focus on delivering on game’s experiences to players. This increased urgency will likely see them accept that certain Web2 best practices are required to deliver games that meet player’s expectation – and thus require “good old fashioned” game services such as leaderboards, authentication, matchmaking, etc. Making “Fun” games is now at the center of their objective, and not the other way around.
For multiplayer games, this means recognizing the imperative to ensure fairness, performance, and security for players. Specifically, embracing cloud hosting strategies that prioritize scalability, reliability, and efficient resource management, such as dedicated game servers, and game services using CDN and centralized databases.