Gaming in 2020: what the next decade holds

Microsoft's Project Natal is the latest example of motion-control tech in gaming - but where will this be in 2020?
Microsoft's Project Natal is the latest example of motion-control tech in gaming - but where will this be in 2020?

In what ways will computer and videogames change in the next 10 years? It is a question that tech-obsessed gamers often ask each other (often after a few pints on a Friday night), when we consider just how far we have come since the early days of the Spectrum and the C64 in the 1980s.

The last ten years have been gaming's golden decade. The next-gen consoles fulfilled their early promises. And then some. And we were treated to some truly classic gaming moments, as we recently documented in TechRadar's top 12 games of the noughties.

But the games industry is nothing if not forward-looking. It doesn't tend to do nostalgia. And with a flurry of new gaming technologies on the near-future horizon we want to know what the industry experts – the developers, the publishers, the hardware makers - think that gaming in 2020 is going to be like.

As such, we asked them to extrapolate from current developments across a range of emerging gaming tech including motion and voice control; MMOs and online gaming; 3D and new display technologies; cloud gaming and more. We wanted both wild speculation and measured opinion. And we got it.

2020: the generational tipping point

Rob Cooper, Managing Director of Ubisoft, thinks that we will have reached that all-important 'generational tipping point' by 2020, when "it's likely more people will have played games than have not," which in turn, "means that it will become much more part of the establishment like TV and film.

"This broadens the potential audience and makes it more culturally acceptable to be 'a gamer', particularly by key thought leaders in the mainstream media," the Ubisoft MD adds, also noting that games are beginning to pervade education and, "in the future, it's likely that kids and adults alike will learn about science, climate change and so on through game simulations to recreate or explain these scenarios."

On a more whimsical note, by 2020 (as one analyst joked) might Google, PopCap, Linden Labs and Blizzard join forces to produce the ultimate mirrorworld MMOG? "Which goes on to become a nation in itself, whose citizens are paid entirely in virtual currency, and remain a real-world economic force via their pivotal roles as part of the global information cloud, overseen by the Blizzgoocaplabs Corporation?"


Adam Hartley