Normally these sorts of things are supposed to show up before the end of the year, but time isn’t real anyway so let’s see some predictions about gaming this year!
I polled our Slack members for what they thought was coming down the pike in 2024. Here they are, in ascending order of importance and/or likelihood (it wasn’t a super rigorous poll). Fair warning, some of these predictions get a little…dark.
Streamers as Lifestyle Brand: Added relatively late in the poll but worth mentioning. The idea here is that more gamers will align themselves with streaming communities, rather than the games those streamers play. More Critical Role fandom, less D&D fandom. Makes sense to me, especially as CR moves off D&D into their own work (Candela Obscura, for example). All the same gatekeeping nonsense and toxic fandom, now tied to specific performers and groups rather than games themselves.
Prop-Heavy Games: More games with physical objects in their boxes that may or may not be tied to gameplay. Decks of cards, bits, minis, Macguffins of all sorts. Things like the glowsticks that come with The Zone. Lots of vibes-bolstering opportunities, one assumes paid for by overfunded Kickstarters. You got ofrenda candles at a certain backer level during the Cartel campaign, after all! And Monte Cook Games relaunched Invisible Sun for a third time very successfully.
Franchise Tie-Ins: Avatar Legends broke everyone’s brains with their nearly $10 million campaign. Modiphius produces a lot of franchise tie-in games. Renegade as well. I think we’ll see more franchises, probably the ones that are good values. What’s out there that isn’t crazy-expensive (like Star Wars or Marvel) but still has a big devoted fan base? Look toward anime, semi-successful Netflix shows, older titles with committed fandoms.
Minimum Accessibility Standards: It’s going to be a very bad look for games to come out that don’t provide at least some minimum accessibility, at least in their PDFs. The VAST toolkit (https://vast.guide/) offers a lot of good guidance on this one! I expect to see more of this showing up.
Gated Play Communities: There are for-pay play communities of course, and more of them coming all the time. If Hasbro gets their way, we’ll see a D&D community where you can pay to watch, pay to join, pay for a license to play, get certified in a two day course with annual renewal fees. There are also official support communities, where folks gather around publishers or even specific games. These always strike me as kind of weird because the only thing tying everyone together is love of a particular title, usually. I’m not sure how much I have in common with other fans of Stillfleet, for example! But it’s good marketing to support your work. But the dark forest is a powerful defense against bad actors and other broken people. We have a vouching system in place for the IGRC Slack, for example, and it’s been very successful.
Credible D&D Rivals: MCDM showed us you can make a lot of money on a credible D&D rival. That is, a game pitched at existing D&D fans, not a fantasy game marketed to the greater gaming world. Will there be another one? Maybe not in the same way as the MCDM folks did (massive Youtube following, years of community development), but until 6E shows up, the king is looking frail. Frail enough for folks to take a swing at it at least.
Solo Play Modes: Solo-specific games are getting bigger but personally I think many, even most, RPGs are going to offer at least a few tools for playing solitaire. Oracle tables, maybe whole new procedures. Solo is big! Every single player out there is a potential customer, nevermind the frustrated GMs who can’t table the stuff they really want to play. Heck, I’m doing it too via the Radiance Adventure Engine.
AI Everything: We’re going to see a lot more use of generative AI tools – Chat-GPT, Midjourney, etc. – at ever table. Some will be tied to specific games, but the raw generative power to create oracle tables, names lists, dialogue prompts, set piece images, that’s all going to be real hard to ignore. Some game out there will eventually mandate their use as part of the rules. Could you ask an LLM to generate an OSR game from a prompt? I’ll bet you could. Wouldn’t even need to publish a ruleset to go along with your setting book.
Online Native and Online Play Support: We’ll see more publishers put their own character keepers out there for every game, more virtual tabletop modules, more support right out of the gate to play online. We’ll also see more online-native play, like we saw with This Discord Has Ghosts In It and Alice is Missing.
Out of the Box Play: minimal prep, minimal setup, everything you need in the box to open up and just start playing. There’s a lot of boardgame expertise out there, from physical design to crowdfunding know-how, and we’re just starting to see that expertise come into roleplaying spaces. Jiangshi, Fight With Spirit, The Spectaculars are all good examples of what’s coming. Hold onto your wallets.
Vibes-Forward Design: We will see a dramatic decrease in functional, novel procedural design in favor of text and images that convey feelings about subjects, and guidelines for conveying those feelings to a table. Tastes are cyclical and we’re headed deep into vibes territory as Gen X ages out along with their (our) trad-trained tastes. No worries, there will also be new design and publishing communities arising as well. Time is a flat circle.