In 2018, I experienced one of my biggest shifts in video gaming behavior over the past decade. Overall, the industry is going through some interesting changes with the introduction of Epic and Discord’s game marketplaces, and an explosion of games available on Steam and new storefronts. Personally, it was a big change of me, because I moved in with my fiancée, got married, and overall had less time for my old gaming habits. Instead of playing mostly new games, I’ve played a mix of new and old games over the past year. Here are some of the trends in my gameplay habits that I noticed in 2018.
I started working for Zynga in June, and shortly before then I started exploring mobile games such as Words with Friends 2. My commute also changed over the past year, and I have more time commuting on the train that I can now spend playing games. One of the genres that I’ve kept on my phone throughout the year is match-3 titles, including Crazy Cake Swap, Wonka’s World of Candy, and Candy Crush Friends Saga. This is the first year that I really got into mobile gaming, and I’ve even started playing some of these games outside of my commute.
Another trend in my gaming habits that I’ve noticed in the past year is playing games on easier modes. Since I have less time to play games, I want to get through games quicker, rather than constantly replaying sections of a game. I found myself setting the difficulty level on Wolfenstein II to easy mode, so that I could make progress through the game more quickly. I still enjoy challenge in games, but like the ability to take shortcuts to progress the story.
Procedural content generation (PCG) has already seen huge success with level generation in MineCraft, and weapon creation in Borderlands. But this year was the first time that I experienced a game using PCG for creating high-fidelity 3D levels. I started playing the Descenders game preview on Xbox One, and really enjoyed the feel of the generated levels. While the early game levels became repetitive after a bit, the later zones in the game added enough terrain configurations to keep the levels diverse and interesting.
I also tried out some new genres of games this year, including Gone Home. This game has been out for awhile, but I finally took the time to play it, after downloading it when it was offered through Xbox Live. I enjoyed the pace of the game and the focus on narrative, and it aligned well with my focus on more casual gameplay experiences.
As mentioned with Gone Home, I’ve purchased fewer games directly over the past year and have taken advantage of more of the games available through Xbox Live and PS Plus. One of my favorites that I replayed this year was Skulls of the Shogun, where I played through the DLC content for the first time.
Over the past year, I’ve kept my number of gaming subscriptions steady, while decreasing my number of video streaming subscriptions. EA’s been exploring subscription services for a few years now with EA Access and Origin Access, and Xbox Game Pass is shaping up to be a great service as well.
I’ve also been replaying some of favorite games over the past year. Remastered editions, such as Dark Souls, provided a great nudge to encourage me to revisit these classic titles. Between remastered titles, Xbox backwards compatibility, and classic console releases, there’s several options for going back and enjoying older games. This is a trend in my gameplay habits I blogged about back in 2015, and it’s been great seeing more availability of classic titles.