What the gaming trends and buzzwords of 2021 really mean

Gaming is bigger than ever considering we have been locked away in our homes for the last year and a half. You can find a million articles trying to explain what all the new trendy buzzwords mean, and they are all sugarcoated to hell. You and I? We’ve been around the digital block more than once. Let’s not mince words and be brutally honest about what all these terms really mean.

Battle Royale

The kids like Fortnite these days so we’re gonna try and make the next Fortnite. There is a 99% chance we will fail, but regardless we will act like this is a goldmine idea that we were the very first to think of.

Cloud Gaming

For some reason we think that streaming a video feed of a game being played in a server room somewhere will solve everyone’s problems. Never mind that if you don’t have the money for a gaming computer you also probably don’t have the money for a high speed internet connection. Of course, we are also banking on you not knowing enough about computer specs or internet infrastructure to care, which means we will already have your money by the time you realize every game in our small online library runs at an unbearable delay.

Console Exclusive/Timed Exclusive

There is a ton of money in the rabid tribalism of the console wars. When gamers are raging at each other they tend to buy games that they would be uninterested in, just as a show of console pride. However, data shows that we get the most sales when we open up our products to the largest audience possible, so we are also going to sell it to PC users. That way console users will fight, PC power users will buy the game on top of them, and a year down the line we will port the PC version to the other console anyway, putting even more cash in our pockets and making your dumb console superiority war even dumber.

Cozy Games

The year 2021 is so incredibly fucked that the wildest escapist fantasies we can think of involve living in a nice house with a loving family, cute pet, and maybe tending a garden.

Crowdfunding

We are either small indie developers attempting to escape the poverty wages of AAA development, or a AAA team trying to prove interest in a project. I mean, why would a multi-billion dollar company want to take any risks?

Crowdsourced Content

Instead of making a game, we made a crappy game development tool. Then we are going to ask everyone to make games for us and we aren’t going to pay them! Oh, and did we mention that no one will own the rights to anything they make? It’s ours forever. You are essentially paying us for the privilege to make us money and you’ll get nothing but internet clout in return.

Digital Distribution Platform

Everyone purchases their games on Steam, but we will also publish on the Epic Games Store and GOG, pushing us toward the bleak future where you have to have 20 different programs open just to access your gaming library.

Diversity

We are going to include one token queer person, person of color, or a strong female protagonist, and despite only barely touching on social issues facing marginalized people, we are still going to get review bombed and receive death threats.

DLC

Our budget was so large that there was no way in heck we would make a profit by sales alone. Instead, we will ask you to keep buying the game after you already bought the game. If we are a good studio, we will keep a skeleton crew on board to develop new DLC after the game’s release. If we aren’t, then we already developed most of our DLC before release and any additional work is done by underpaid interns.

Early Access

Please buy my game before it’s finished so I don’t have to choose between working on it, eating, and paying rent.

Emergent Gameplay

QA testing is hard, expensive, and impossible with strict deadlines, so we are going to release the game in an unbalanced and buggy state and ask the players to find the fun. We will then balance patch the game later and there’s a 50 percent chance that we will patch out a glitch that our audience really enjoyed, ruining the game for everyone.

Esports

Despite streams of our game frequently pulling better numbers than some professional sports, we are still going to treat pro gamers as niche weirdos, pay them next to nothing, film them in crossed arm “hardcore gamer” poses, and turn a blind eye to teams that mistreat their players and ditch them the second they incur a single loss. Also, we are going to put neon advertisements on everything.

Family Friendly

Younger gamers have been stuck inside with only their parents to socially interact with. This simpler game is supposed to appeal to both young and old gamers alike. Unfortunately, we failed to take into account that younger gamers already play complex games, and their parents grew up in the ages of “NES Hard” games. So this super simple game will appeal to basically no one.

Gamer

LITERALLY ANYONE! Gaming is the biggest market in the world right now. Everyone plays games. Self-identifying as a “gamer” only means you are more likely to spend tons of money on RGB lighting.

Gamification

Life in the apocalypse sucks, so we are going to create cute apps that let you earn points for daily activities, just to give you enough dopamine to get through the day.

Hardcore VR

Despite VR being around for years, most VR games are still gimmicky proof of concept titles. Our studio is different. We are going to make mainstream killer apps for VR… which means gimmicky proof of concept titles but with more realistic blood and guns this time around.

Hundreds of Hours of Gameplay

We filled our game with a ton of needless side activities to hide the fact that the main story is only about 10 hours long.

Indie

Anyone who isn’t AAA. There is nothing in-between anymore.

Japanese Release

Most games come out in all regions at the same time these days, but ours is really weird and probably has anime waifus in questionable positions. That means it will take a long time to make the necessary localization changes in order to sell it in other markets, at which point people will cry “censorship” because we gave our female characters pants.

Microtransactions

We will make all of our money off of one guy named Steve who has no problem dropping thousands of dollars every month just to have the shiniest digital hat.

Netcode

It turns out that online play is actually pretty important when you can’t leave your house. We are going to put the tiniest bit of extra thought into our development process in the hopes that playing our game online won’t be a laggy mess. Don’t worry. It still will be.

Next-Gen Exclusive

We are perfectly fine with no one playing our game because it’s still impossible to purchase a PS5 or Xbox Series X without camping outside a store.

Open World

90 percent of our game will be spent walking from one side of the map to the other with nothing to do in between.

Player Expression

We built a game with a million bad options and one good option, but despite this players will praise our game for being super deep.

Remake/Reboot

We have no new ideas.

Self-Care Games

Therapy is expensive. Healthcare is expensive. Our game is a poor substitute, but it’s all you can really afford right now.

Social Gaming

We know you are going stir crazy and desperately need to hear the voice of another human being, so use our game as an excuse.

Virtual Tabletop/Online Board Gaming

On the surface, this is a clunky way to play board games, card games, and roleplaying games remotely with friends during a dangerous global pandemic. In reality, it’s the best way to play the cool new board game without having to drop $160 on the ludicrously overpriced custom miniatures of the Kickstarter version.

Hope that wasn’t too much of a bummer. If you have any other gaming trends you’d like explained in the most real way possible, leave ‘em in the comments.