From great games, to events and awards, we’re excited to see what the next 12 months holds for the games industry. Here, we share some of the trends and highlights we’re looking forward to in 2024.
Community driven games
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an ongoing demand for games that bring friends and communities together to play. This trend doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, with search volumes for terms including ‘games to play with friends’, ‘online games with friends’ and ‘multiplayer games’ remaining higher than pre-pandemic levels. In an increasingly digital world, we’re all looking for new ways to connect and Ofcom data (analysed by USwitch) released in early 2023 indicated that almost a third of young adult (16-24) gamers play games online regularly, and that 76% of all games in the UK played online in the previous year.
We anticipate this trend to continue and that the role of community and community managers in gaming will become more important this year. Senior Community Manager for Stampede: Racing Royale – Chris Groves – expects that community managers will become more embedded in development teams throughout 2024: “In an incredibly competitive market, I think more development teams are understanding that reaching and retaining an audience is extremely difficult, regardless of how awesome your game is! Discovery and engagement are often forged through social media and online discussion areas – places that a Community Manager is responsible for looking after.
“It’s not just external factors, either – social elements inside a game are just as important, so players can share their experience creatively and connect with the world. Community Managers provide valuable expertise on how players want to tether their in-game experience with their online activity, which can really help with areas of game design and live service. In 2024, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more developers embedding Community in the process, so that when a CM looks to work their magic on these channels, they’re equipped with as much knowledge as possible.”
Looking ahead, there are a range of exciting and innovative multiplayer games releasing – whether you’re looking to take on the role as iconic DC villains in the action-packed Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice league, combine chaos, karts and customisation in Stampede: Racing Royale or go on a grand MMORPG adventure with Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail – there’s something to suit all playstyles coming this year.
The quest for cosy
Defined by their relaxing gameplay, beautiful and immersive environments, soothing soundtracks and calming colour-palettes, cosy games are a great way to unwind and are another genre which experienced a huge boom in 2023. It seems that more of us are searching for a laid-back gaming experience, and – according to Google Trends – December 2023 saw a lifetime peak for searches including ‘best cosy games’ and ‘relaxing games’.
Last year, Steam held its first ever Cosy Quest event, which was hosted by Secret Mode. Ali Fraser, Publishing Commercial Director at Secret Mode, led the event and predicts we aren’t going to see the decline in demand for the cosy genre any time soon: “Cosy games are such an important genre which I expect will only continue to grow in the coming years. In a world of constant updates flooding the news and social media to grab your attention, cosy games give us the respite to relax, escape the fast-paced world and to take our time.
“We [at Secret Mode] have lots of games on our roster that fall into the ‘cosy’ category and have seen great demand over the last 12 months – with our wholesome tidying title, A Little to the Left, reaching a milestone million sales last year alone. Combined with our hugely successful Cosy Quest event, it’s clear that enthusiasm for this genre is stronger than ever!”
It’s expected that the cosy-game craze is set to continue in 2024 as fans of the genre look to broaden their cosy experiences into their lifestyles. In the last year, searches on visual-first platforms including TikTok and Instagram around cosy gaming have grown in popularity, and related searches now include ‘cosy gaming set ups’, ‘cosy gaming décor’ and more.
Celebrating the games industry
Despite being a challenging year for the games industry, 2023 managed to produce a bulk of blockbuster titles, including the award-winning Balder’s Gate III, the highly-anticipated Starfield and the swinging sensation Spiderman II. With so many incredible titles releasing over the last year, awards season for 2023/2024 looks to be packed with well-deserved winners, and we’re already looking forward to seeing who brings home awards from this year’s BAFTA, DICE, Ukie and Develop awards!
In addition, we’re already energized to be attending events that bring together the boldest and brightest minds in the games industry where we can meet industry peers, learn about emerging technology and trends and attend insightful talks. Already on our list for 2024 is Pocket Gamer Connects in London (22nd – 23rd January), DICE in Las Vegas (13th – 15th February), GDC in San Francisco (18th – 22nd March) and Reboot Develop Blue in Dubrovnik (22nd – 24th April).
Sumo Group’s Director of Business Development, Nina Cliff, is just one of our team packing her suitcase for some of the industry’s events in 2024: “2024 will see Sumo’s business development team attending many of the industry’s flagship events. If 2023 is anything to go by, I anticipate the turnout for these events may reach record levels. We’re not only looking forward to catching up with our colleagues and partners, but are hoping to see more of our teams take to global stages to deliver inspiring talks on their projects, tools and technology!”
Accessibility in games
2023 was a year of innovation for accessibility in games, with the release of the revolutionary access controller from Sony, and Forza Motorsport not only being named 2023 Accessibility Innovation in Games winner at The Game Awards, but also setting the gold standard for accessibility in the genre.
As the whole industry puts a concerted effort behind ensuring the games we make are accessible to everyone, Projects Manager at SpecialEffect – a charity which utilises innovative technology to ensure everyone can play games – Bill Donegan gives insight into what he hopes we’ll see in the world of accessibility in 2024:
“As accessibility in games continues to develop this year, we’re looking forward to sharing the accessibility features of new releases with our players. These features can increase the accessibility of a game when used alongside the customised controller setups we create. On that note, we’re excited to be using the new PS5 Access Controller that was released in December, and look forward to exploring how it can be utilised and customised to suit the individual needs of the PlayStation players we work with.
“Microsoft’s Accessibility Feature Tags and PlayStation’s Accessibility Tags also have a lot of potential impact this year following their release in 2023. These tags allow developers to share game accessibility information with potential players and enable the developers themselves to learn more about accessibility features and how to implement them into their games. We’re hopeful that the tags can improve both the available information for players and the accessibility of games.”
Also in 2024, don’t miss the Access-Ability Summer Showcase in June where the team will dive into the accessibility features of the games announced at the Summer Games Fest, the GAconf in April where all sectors of the industry gather to inspire and innovate, and be sure to keep an eye on the inspiring stories and resources curated by Safe in Our World.
New games releasing in 2024
According to SteamDB, more games were released in 2023– with over 14,531 games releasing on Steam alone. With growing technology and capability, this number has been on the rise annually since 2019… so can 2024 really be the games industry’s biggest year yet?
In the latest Video Games Industry Memo, George Osborne anticipates that despite less AAA titles hitting the market, there are lots of indie devs hard at work on their next titles meaning we could see a swell of smaller-scale projects releasing this year. You can read more about George’s predictions for releases, and more, in the January 4th edition of the Video Games Industry Memo.
Despite this, it’s set to be a big year of releases for Sumo Group, with a handful of projects releasing throughout the year. Up first is Stampede: Racing Royale – the debut title from Sumo Leamington which sees players take one of 60 online racing spots to battle it out to be crowned ruler of the track. Also due for release this year is a double-bill from Brighton-based The Chinese Room as they release their first-person narrative horror game, Still Wakes the Deep, and continue their work with publishers Paradox Interactive on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Some of our other studios are also hard at work crafting innovative, fun and accessible gaming experiences, with more information to be announced soon!
Not forgetting all the games due for release this year that we’ve been able to work on alongside our fantastic partners, including WB Games, Sharkmob Games and Billy Goat Entertainment.
The games industry at the centre of creative excellence
The games industry continues to be vital to the world of entertainment, and contributes huge amounts of detailed stories, immersive worlds and innovative ideas to the world. The outstanding talents of game development teams received global recognition on an even bigger stage in 2023, as video-game adaptations smashed box office records and hit high viewership figures. Just some of the fantastic gaming titles we saw in our home and movie screens in 2023 included HBO’s smash-hit adaptation of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us becoming the watercooler TV show of the year, the Five Night’s at Freddy’s film-breaking box office records upon release and the Super Mario Bros. being the highest-grossing animated film of 2023.
Netflix recently published its 2023 engagement rate, and the team at Ukie took a deep dive into the data to reveal that Netflix viewers watched a combined total of over one billion hours of video game adaptations in H1 of 2023.
This trend could be set to continue, as we’re expecting more exciting releases this year including the Fallout series premiering on Amazon Prime in April, the Borderlands film which is looking to become the summer blockbuster of the 2024 and the third instalment of the Sonic franchising landing in December.
And there you have it! They’re just some of the trends and highlights we’re looking forward to in the coming 12 months – from new titles, to innovations in tech and media, to seeing acclaimed games being crowned at ceremonies around the world. 2024 is already looking to be another eventful year for our industry, and we’re excited to work alongside our talented teams and development partners in creating great games, supporting the industry and more.