3 US Gaming Trends that Broke the Mold in 2021


In the past years, gaming trends have revolved around the rise of eSports and the growing popularity of VR and AR. In 2021, eSports far surpassed expectations related to international regulation and organization of top leagues, major tournament viewership, and the meteoric rise of peripheral sales.

Meanwhile, VR has taken longer to become an entertainment staple. Though slated to be the future of visual and interactive entertainment, there are a few road bumps related to hardware, pricing, and learning curves for non-digital natives. Still, with VR slated to ring in an entertainment revolution, it’s a prime subject for tech-based publications.

Popular topics like eSports and VR mean more than a few interesting gaming trends tend to fly under the radar—especially in 2021. Though this year saw the release of a new Oculus Quest 2, Amazon’s Astro Household Robot, and a Sony’s PS5 restock scramble, some with their finger on the pulse were busy sampling the latest trends that broke the mold in 2021.

Let’s take a closer look at three innovative new ideas in the world of tech-based entertainment.

Cross-State Poker Rooms

Despite the fact that the US has a massive sector interested in playing poker online, there hasn’t been a successful or viable option for cross-state online games. Gaming companies function separately in each state, which directly changes a player’s experience. In other words, users are stuck in the same ‘pool’ of state-wide players.

For most online poker players, this isn’t an issue—they’re hobbyists who aren’t likely to pay attention to another user’s screen name or playing history. For others, it can be a frustrating experience that forces them to branch out from a platform they like.

However, Global Poker saw huge growth for its interstate platform this past year. The platform, which was first launched in 2017, lets players join a pool of 250,000+ others, which includes multi-table tournaments and daily events. For an industry that’s had a winning model for over a decade, the growth of cross-state play has been a significant upgrade for online gamers in the past five years.

Cloud-Based Gaming

Similar to online poker, video streaming services seem to have hit a winning rhythm in the last decade. In the last five years, it’s been enough to upend longstanding entertainment trends like channel subscriptions and the concept of commercials, as well as introduce new types of streaming, like Twitch. But what about streaming a video game instead of a movie or general content?

There has been a huge rise in online gaming across the US. It is not just poker and mobile casino games that have seen a rise in popularity. Social gaming and the new breed of sweepstake casinos like Chumba and BetRivers.net have also been getting a lot of attention. Offering players the chance to play their favourite games for fun and sweeps coins.

In the last few years, more PC and console gamers have started using cloud-based streaming platforms to take advantage of 5G networks. This translates to better response time, higher streaming quality, and better refresh rates. In some cases, it can also help save storage room on devices.

At the moment, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are all tackling the future of video game streaming. Though Google’s Stadia looks like it’s going back to the drawing board, Microsoft’s xCloud technology (for Xbox) has nestled nicely with Xbox’s Game Pass subscription model. Already, this has motivated Sony to start building out its own PS Plus platform.


Gamification as Education

Though VR is now associated with the cutting-edge future of entertainment, its earliest widespread and successful applications were actually for educational purposes. For example, pilots could get closer to their first flight with VR setups, letting them learn in a virtual, hands-on environment that’s loosely built out like a video game.

The same rings true today. A variety of high-stakes professions rely on VR to help educate learners, from pilots to surgeons to astronauts. In fact, even professional sports teams, like the US’s NFL, rely on VR-training programs to help train certain athletes individually.

However, VR has become an increasingly popular model for corporate branches and other office-based jobs to train their employees. The idea is simple: VR can train new employees through personalized and interactive games, which minimizes the amount of time others need to spend onboarding newcomers while also enhancing their educational experience. By adding elements of gaming, employees are more engaged.

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