Deep Dive
June 28, 2024

Shifting Trends of Gaming

Let's discover the direction of the current trends in gaming

The gaming industry is nothing short of dynamic, with numerous trends shifting dramatically over the past decade, each bringing a fresh wave of enthusiasm and a unique flavor to the worldwide gaming community. These trends, driven by both technological advancements providing developers with better tools and evolving player preferences, have continually redefined what it means to be a gamer, thanks to a continually growing array of different genres and iterations.

Shifting Tides

In the early 2010s, we saw the early signs of the rise of indie games. When titles like Minecraft (2011) and Terraria (2011) broke through the marketing campaigns of AAA games, it proved the point that creativity and innovation could come from small, passionate teams or even single developers as long as they are equipped with the right tools and passion for their craft. The success of indie games, often distributed through platforms like Steam, opened the floodgates for independent developers, leading to a golden age of indie gaming where everyone could build their dream game. However, this also had its consequences when, after some time, it turned out that the dream game for many developers was built on very similar ideas and mechanisms, leading to the formation of a particular trend that we will discuss in a moment.

Around the same time, the popularity of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games began to take traction. League of Legends (2009) and Dota 2 (2013) were among the first titles that attracted millions of players, fostering a competitive spirit that led to the birth of esports as the new venue of mainstream entertainment. The trend sent echoes across the entire industry, and now esports tournaments for the most popular games fill entire arenas and draw additional millions of viewers online, with prize pools reaching into the millions or even exceeding million-dollar prize pools.

Another major trend was the explosion of the battle royale genre. Starting with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) in 2017 and followed by Fortnite later that year, the battle royale genre captivated players with its last-man-standing gameplay design. Fortnite, in particular, revolutionized the industry with its free-to-play model, supported by cosmetic microtransactions and regular, engaging content updates that attract new players by appealing to the most popular worlds and characters from the entire pop culture. By 2020, Fortnite had over 350 million registered users, reaching 500 million in 2023.

Meanwhile, an unexpected niche of survival and sandbox games like Rust (2013) and ARK: Survival Evolved (2015) found their place in the market, attracting players with the promise of open-world exploration and survival mechanics which began to be implemented in a variety of different games and genres. These games encouraged creativity and strategy, appealing to a different type of gamer who preferred long-term engagement over quick matches. However, as these mechanics began to spread across new games and iterations, they often seemed like necessary grind-like mechanics to extend gameplay time rather than meaningful extensions of the design.

Virtual Reality (VR) also saw a resurgence in interest, thanks to advancements in technology and more affordable hardware. Games like Beat Saber (2018) and Half-Life: Alyx (2020) demonstrated VR's potential, creating immersive experiences that traditional gaming setups couldn't match. This trend, however, is still fighting for its rise to the top as most VR games are mediocre, and the threshold is too high for many players who do not wish to purchase expensive VR headsets only to play games they are not sure they will like in the long run.

Amid these evolving genres, one trend that stands out for its saturation is the life simulation (life-sim) type of games that unexpectedly rose to the top and quickly began to see its copycats. Many people consider life-sim games to be similar to The Sims 4 (2014). However, today what defines life-sim is more akin to Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020) and Stardew Valley (2016), as both games reestablished what it means to provide a life-sim game to people who want to break away from their everyday lives in cities. In turn, these games gained immense popularity, offering players an escape into digital worlds where they could manage their daily lives, build homes, foster relationships, harvest crops, take care of animals, and much more. However, after some time, the market of life-sim games became extremely overcrowded with similar titles spawning endlessly, leading not only to fierce competition among developers to capture and retain players' attention but also to boredom among players as how much of a life-sim departure does one need?

From Life-Sim to Competitive

Recent events from the gaming world such as the PC Gaming Show, Ubisoft Forward, Xbox Games Showcase, Future Game Show, Summer Game Fest, and even Nintendo Direct have seen numerous announcements of life-sim games that, while being extremely popular some time ago, seem to have already filled the market’s demand for this type of game. That said, while these events provided a great insight into industry trends, they have also been an excellent study of the industry’s behavior that suggests some of the games may have lined up with the trend at the time of creation, but not now, not at the time of the release.

The shifting focus seems to have been placed now on games that provide competitive experiences for players who wish to compete both with and against other humans. This transition is highlighted by the success of Helldivers II, which has captured the gaming community's attention with its intense, cooperative gameplay and proved that the trend is shifting. The move towards more competitive and cooperative games suggests that players are seeking experiences that offer a higher level of engagement and human interaction where everyone can compete in a safe and exciting environment.


The gaming industry is a constantly evolving landscape that reflects the changing tastes and preferences of the gaming community. Over the past decade, we've seen significant shifts from the rise of indie games and MOBAs to the explosion of battle royale games and the overall interest in indie games. On top of this, the life-sim genre has carved out a substantial niche but recently began to see a lowering tide of interest in favor of the new trend that is coming back to life through its renaissance phase, competitive gaming.

As the pendulum swings, competitive games are gaining momentum, promising to reshape the industry once again with their new and improved approach to offering players even better experiences. Thanks to the dynamic environment of the gaming industry, we can be sure that everything will continue to evolve, offering not only new experiences and challenges for players worldwide but also shifting between the trends. If you see what trend will come out on top as the next big thing, well… you know what to do.

Enjoyed this article? Dive deeper into the future of gaming by exploring more insights and stories on our blog. Your next favorite read is just a click away.

And if you want to experience the new wave of competitive gaming for yourself, check out the Football Game Mode in Clash of Orbs that lets you increase the thrill of ongoing football championship. 

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