Gaming in 2015: the biggest trends and our best predictions

What's up with PCs, consoles and VR?

The console war's biggest battle? Timed exclusives – While you can expect Microsoft and Sony's biggest guns to finally fire in 2015 with Halo 5 and Uncharted 4 due before the end of the year, the real battle will be fought with third-party franchises funded by (and exclusive to) the console giants. The Xbox One will be the only non-PC platform to find the next Tomb Raider, while Sony has sewn up the biggest fighting franchise on the planet with Street Fighter 5. Might E3 2015 bring further megaton exclusives?

Valve's biggest move into the living room yet – Despite dominating the PC gaming marketplace with Steam's ever-expanding storefront, Valve knows there's untapped potential underneath every TV. Much like how Apple TV and Roku boxes brought digital streaming to the living room, Valve is promising to flesh out the three-pronged attack of Steam Machines (pre-built-yet-moddable PCs), SteamOS (an operating system optimized for gaming) and the Steam Controller.

steam controller

The best part is that the wait for Steam's next move mightn't be very long, as the mega-publisher revealed that Steam Machines will have a big presence at GDC 2015 in March. Whether that means we'll be hearing more about its operating system and new controller too is still up in the air.

Everyone wins with portables ... except Sony – Nintendo is refreshing its 3DS hardware line with the New Nintendo 3DS. While you can expect the publisher to play it safe and make most games compatible with the original, you can bet some titles will be better with the built-in analog nub and increased processing power. When it comes to the iPad, you'll still see plenty of tap-friendly hits, but don't expect controller support to break out any further (even with iPhone controllers becoming iPad compatible via forwarding). As for the Vita, don't look for much beyond Japanese RPGs and cross-platform indie games that also hit the PlayStation 4.

Gaming in 2015

What's coming next?

With 4K becoming more commonplace on PC and higher-definition televisions becoming increasingly affordable to the mass market, we predict games will follow suit this year. As they always are, PC gamers (who already game beyond 1080p) will see the fruits of trend first as new hardware makes the high resolution possible without sacrificing frame rate. Firmware updates will allow the PS4 and Xbox One to adapt to 4K gaming, but expect serious concessions with chuggier games and decreased multitasking once you cross the 1080p threshold.

While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will remain the front-runners in the hardware race, 2015 does bring the possibility of a few new platforms having E3 teases. While Nintendo will make another concerted push to popularize the Wii U, it wouldn't be surprising to see what the company has in store for its next home platform. To that end, even with the New Nintendo 3DS, the four-year-old portable platform could be due for a successor; potentially one that plays nice with a new console. Don't expect these to release this year, but Nintendo has never been shy about telling new hardware details long before showing.