The Top Game Genres that Gamers Want to See More of in 2020 and Beyond

Let’s start taking feedback from gamers on what they actually enjoy to play.

It’s that easy. These days, the majority of AAA game studios release more of the same, with a new coat of paint and better graphics, without considering what gamers actually want. After the recent debacle with Pokemon Sword and Shield, where gamers complained about reused content, barren areas of the map, and stale gameplay, developers need to take the voice of the gamer more seriously during pre-production.

So, what do gamers actually want? It’s pretty obvious, it has been the same thing since the dawn of video games: gamers want a fun, new experience. Yes, sometimes they want it to be with the same IP, same genre; but always with some variation.

With that in mind, let’s explore some commonly under-served game genres and concepts, that players in 2020 has asked for more of!

In Demand — Party Battler

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Fall Guys, a Party Battler that has recently garnered a massive audience.

I recently wrote an article about games that players are gravitating to during the global pandemic this year. So it is no surprise that I will put up the “party battler” genre up for the most in demand today. We have seen a boost of games in this genre, so they are not particularly under-served at the moment, however with the rate gamers are consuming titles like “Fall Guys”, “Moving Out” and “Among Us”, this genre holds its own on this list.

For those who don’t know, party battlers are online multiplayer games that are more “session based” as opposed to “open world”. They typically have players compete or collaborate on a task, and much like the “battle royale” genre players are vying for a #1 position, to make it to the end of the game.

How is a party battler different from a battle royale game then? The main difference is that party battlers are much less mechanics intensive, and are usually not shooters or brawlers. Many times, a party battler can be played by anyone with very little gaming literacy. And players are usually competing against a common enemy, the terrain, or an arbitrary constraint.

Underestimated — Board Games Re-imagined

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Gloomhaven’s PC release brings their board game world to life

Board games are their own medium of game altogether. But board games online has become the new norm during 2020’s pandemic. As gamers social distance themselves, they must rely on their network connection to socialize with others.

What do I mean when I say “board games reimagined”? The concept of board games has us rely on manipulating static components that are usually abstractions of game mechanics. Think of the player pieces in any board game, action cards in any card game, etc. When a board game makes the leap to digital, it needs to keep the charm of its analog predecessor but also introduce new elements that make managing stats and room a lot easier.

One great example is Gloomhaven. This board game is known for its massive size, weight, and play space requirement. Asmodee has cleverly condensed the game into a digital steam release that sees player characters come to life, unwieldy decks, legacy campaign management, and health markers done away with, and game-play streamlined. If more games can take this route, we may see an even greater increase in gamers choosing digital remastered board games.

Niche — Story driven puzzle games (The Witness)

Somewhere between point-and-click adventure, and top down platformer lives a genre of story-driven puzzle games that don’t quite know how to fit into the rest of the gaming ecosystem. Games like “The Witness” go for a serene aesthetic, that belies its difficulty.

It is commonly assumed upon that these types of games do not do well because they do not encompass any “strife” or action, guns or violence or power fantasies. Games like The Witness and Journey prove that all you need is powerful mechanics, setting, ambience and most importantly unique and interesting puzzles. Plenty of gamers are looking for a single-player experience that delivers on this in spades.

“Complicated But Satisfying” — FPS-RTS hybrid

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Battlezone Combat Commander has you flip from first person to third person strategy to prevail

Have you ever played Battlezone Combat Commander?

If you have, then I needn’t say more.

If you haven’t then what are you waiting for?

The unique hybrid of FPS and RTS has appeal to both gamers and developers who enjoy the challenge. Unfortunately quality games that tackle the challenge are far-and-few apart.

This is truly an under-served genre mix that provides plenty of design options that can potentially design themselves. Some creatives examples include a PSI / Telekinesis style game where you control units with your mind to harvest resources on your behalf. Or an aquatic war game ala Aqua Man, controlling aquatic life to do your bidding. The conceptual field is expansive.

Feature Focus— Community-Driven Content

Games like Super Mario Maker have made level making games into their own niche of sorts. However, level makers are nothing new and have been around since games had methods of storage built in (or out, in the case of the Famicom Data Recorder). A truly flexible game allows for more than just level creation — yes, we are talking about modding.

Embracing, and making a quality environment for modding is the most exciting concept for a new game genre. We have level games, we have game-making games like Dreams and RPG Maker, but giving the player the ability to easily create their own tailored experience and import it into a large, fun ecosystem is the dream of all gamers.

And this is not without its benefits for developers and studios. Games like Team Fortress 2 provide a revenue share option that provides incentive for creators to add their content to the game. And of course Valve takes a hefty cut of the sales. Think of a more casual game, like Habbo Hotel, where players are rewarded for their in-game creativity.

Conclusion

Do you agree with my top picks for most desired game genres? What would you add to the list? Feel free to add to this or leave a comment. Also check out my related articles for more on the topic of gaming in 2020.

Freelance game designer / developer. Full stack developer. Board game geek and cat tamer.

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