Over at Gamasutra, Pascal Luban has an article up discussing emerging trends in gaming. Pretty much all of them are ways that publishers are trying to get more bucks from their products.

The first trend is increasing the commercial life span of games. We’re all familiar with the cycle of announcement/PR hype/release/disappearance. Pascal believes that having a multiplayer feature is what can keep a game on the shelf longer.

These are not MMOGs, but retail games that allow for online play. Obviously, this does work, at least for some products. However, I think he overlooked here contributions from the gaming community via modders. It was certainly the very activity bunch of “amateur designers” that kept the original Neverwinter Nights going (along with good support from Bioware).

But is MP (even with mods) enough to keep up interest? Given how the current cycle noted above works, I’m not so sure. So many game sites these days seem to “abandon” a product soon after it shows up, that PR has to be kept going well after release.

Downloadable content is another item on his list. New stuff (for money, of course) to keep the games fresh and interesting, at least for some time. Whether enough players on a large scale would want to pay extra for new material remains to be seen. Bethesda learned about that with the infamous “horses” mod they charged for, even though it was a small amount.

Another trend might be called “fast food gaming”. Short, cheap, “casual” type games that can be downloaded and played quickly, for example, on cell phones. Stuff that’s easy to learn and gives immediate satisfaction.

He closes out the article with a look at “Increasingly believable universes”. This is a combination of “photo-realistic graphics” and “real-world physics”. Sure, and you only need a monster rig to get that to run. And here Coyote is having a (mostly) good time playing Wiz 8, which has neither of those. This sort of thing is aimed more at what we’d call “hardcore” players, and is what extends development time and costs the big bucks.

Nonetheless, the article is an interesting read; check it out.

Megatrends Of Game Design on Gamasutra