The 4 most popular themes in gaming today
The gaming industry benefits from such an eclectic mix of in-game themes and storylines. Equally as much, if not more so, than the movie industry. However, there are some themes that simply resonate better than others. They provide the immersivity needed to transport gamers into genuine virtual worlds, if only for a matter of minutes or hours.
What types of gaming themes make for winners in the eyes of game developers and gamers themselves? Below, we explore four themes that continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, with tremendous commercial success and critical acclaim.
The battle royale theme has encapsulated a generation of video gamers and, in particular, the world of eSports. Many battle royale games have gone on to become eSports phenomena. If you’re unfamiliar with the theme of battle royale, it relates to a multiplayer game that competes against one another in real-time. The last contestant standing is the winner. When it means ‘last man standing’, we’re not just talking about the brutal, gun, or fighting games either, they can be strategic puzzle games too.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is undoubtedly one of the finest battle royale games and eSports spectacles. It’s a 100-player game that delivers all-action entertainment and has come an immensely long way from its little-known release on Steam, with eSports personalities and professionals to thank for taking this title to the top on smartphone devices as well as desktops. Fortnite also has its own battle royale version, which has proven to be a huge family-friendly hit. 100 players are ‘dropped in’ on an island in real-time and are tasked with attempting to survive the impending storm by whatever means possible.
There’s something quite romantic about the Wild West. The vintage saloons and the barren wastelands hark back to a simpler age. The success of franchises such as Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar Games is a testament to this. On its opening weekend, the game raked in upwards of $725 million and even surpassed the lifetime sales of the original Red Dead Redemption in a matter of a fortnight. Inspired by old-school Western outlaws, the game follows protagonist Arthur Morgan’s bid for survival in the crumbling Wild West as government agencies and rival gangs seeking to gain control.
The glamorization of the Wild West by Red Dead Redemption 2 has seen many other games spawned in recent months. In June 2021, the iGaming scene saw a slot game released dubbed the “ultimate Wild West slot experience”. Wild Draw Saloon features a host of thematic western symbols set within the backdrop of an iconic 19th century saloon. Players assume the role of a bounty hunter to try and land prizes, including the progressive jackpot.
The open-world theme and game mechanic is one of the most transformational additions to the gaming industry we’ve seen. The ability to create a less linear, formulaic approach to the way people engage with virtual gaming environments is just great. Although it does add enormous pressure onto the latest GPU chipsets, whose prices could finally be returning to normal levels in the coming weeks. Open world themes give players the freedom to roam and engage with missions and uncover hidden objectives on their own terms.
Final Fantasy has long been a hit with gamers and the 15th installment of this award-winning franchise does not disappoint. Final Fantasy XV is more of an action role-playing game, which differs somewhat from the traditions of the genre. Nevertheless, it’s set on planet Eos, a planet that looks and feels eerily like Earth. Either way, you get full reign to explore on foot, by car, or by flying machine. It might surprise you but racing games can also offer open-world characteristics too. For example, Crew 2 consists of 1,900 sq. miles of road and terrain that can be explored in a multitude of vehicle types.
One of the fastest-growing subgenres of the action-adventure and horror scene, survival horror continues to offer spine-tingling yet addictive gaming experiences. With a distinct emphasis on player vulnerability, atmosphere, and outright gore, survival horror developers try their level best to frighten players into submission.
The Evil Within 2 is one such title that will see gamers’ jaws crash to the floor as fleshy, blood-stained bodies and limbs attempt to snare your every more. It’s a genuine skin-crawler, which blends open-world environments in dank, eery mansions with short, sharp combative moments to immense effect. Alien: Isolation is another that ticks all the right boxes, despite its rather predictable storyline. Survival horror games have a funny knack for making gamers feel truly powerless and there’s nothing more fearsome than being stuck on a space station with a monstrous alien at large.
This powerful quartet of gaming themes has certainly breathed new life into the gaming industry in recent years, although there are many other genres and subgenres that continue to hit the spot too. One gamer’s trash is another gamer’s treasure, after all!