Crystal Ball Gaming 2018 is officially here, and I for one am certainly looking forward to what it's going to give us in both the gaming and tech spaces. Even though it's a bit too soon to predict what may come our way, in the same token I'm sure I can take an educated guess, or make some informed predictions, regarding the industry and what we can expect from it this year.

When it comes down to game consoles, 2017 was a pretty solid year. In March Nintendo released the Switch, a hybrid device that can be played handheld or while docked to a TV, and so far its sales figures are incredibly impressive. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey also sold amazingly well, and according to Game Rankings are currently in the top 5 rated games of all time. The system has seen some fantastic first-party support as well as some great third-party titles (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DOOM, L.A. Noire, etc.) and has become a haven for indie developers. In November Microsoft released the XBox One X, the most powerful home console ever released, offering full support for 4K, HDR, and 60 frames-per-second with a wide library of titles.

I think 2018 is going to be an important year for Nintendo too. The Nintendo Switch, while certainly an impressive console with some really unique features, is a bit late getting into the current generation of gaming, unlike the PlayStation 4 and XBox One systems. While its current iteration is certainly no slouch, as time goes on its viability to run modern AAA titles is surely going to be tested. One of the best things about the Switch is its versatility to be played however you want and wherever you want, and this versatility makes it an appealing option when given a choice between a title on the Switch or on the PS4 or XB1. Getting the option to play a game like DOOM or Skyrim on the go is a wonderful thing and I think it’s definitely one of the reasons that the Switch has been a top-selling piece of hardware so far. As long as developers don’t find themselves having to make too many compromises on quality in order to port games to the Switch, I think it’s going to have a great run, but I definitely think the next 12 months are going to be a test for the longevity of the console in the AAA third-party market.

In the realm of PC gaming, graphics cards are certainly a major topic. Last year was actually a bit of a mixed bag in this space, as AMD finally released its long-teased RX Vega cards in August to a rather mixed reception. For as much as the company had teased its higher-end, HBM2 fueled cards, the final products were rather underwhelming. The top-tier Vega 64 could trade blows with NVIDIA’s GTX 1080, sure, but it drew a lot more power than its competitor’s 2016 card and its MSRP wasn’t all that much lower. In addition to this, the price soared upwards when the supply quickly dwindled, making it a far less viable alternative. Meanwhile, while NVIDIA did not release a new line of consumer cards, it did tweak its popular GTX 1080 with a faster revision (both in terms of memory and clock speeds) and put out the insanely-fast GTX 1080 Ti. Later, the company also released an all-new GTX 1070 Ti that was meant to offer a strong alternative to AMD’s Vega 56 card.

While no one knows for certain what we can expect this year, I have a good suspicion that we’ll see some kind of new series from NVIDIA sometime between Q2 and Q3. Some have speculated that it’ll be some sort of consumer version of their Volta architecture, but others say it’ll be something different altogether. My best guess is that we will see a GTX 1180 (or 2080, depending on what numbering they go with) released and followed by a series of lesser cards this year, followed quickly by a new Titan card for the ultra-enthusiasts, and then in 2019 followed up with their 1180/2080 Ti card. AMD will most likely put out another mainstream series of graphics cards under a possible RX 600 series, the higher-end of which might be filled out with cut-down Vega chips. With details on the RX 500 series kept under wraps until right around release, any speculation on a 600 line of cards at this point is pure conjecture.

The one thing that I think is worth pointing out is the fact that the GTX 1080 Ti is already an extremely capable GPU for viable 4K gaming. Given the fact that 4K gaming is still a relatively new thing and that most gamers are still operating at 1080p (or maybe 1440p for some that want to push things a bit further), the drive to upgrade hardware may not be quite as strong for a while. Certainly hardware will get more energy efficient and will have a bunch of new features, but at the end of the day a lot of people won’t feel the need to upgrade unless there’s a bigger shift in technology. Going up from 1080p to 4K is certainly one reason to buy a new GPU (as 4K continues to slowly become more mainstream), but for those that already are gaming at 4K with a higher-end GPU there will need to be a good reason to get them to upgrade. It’s going to be a long while until 8K becomes something we actually need to worry about, so it’s going to be up to these hardware manufacturers to really reel us in with some impressive features or amazing energy-saving options.

Nintendo Switch
With all that said, however, I personally think the thing I’m most excited about for 2018 is continuing to enjoy my Nintendo Switch. It’s funny, in a way, because normally I’m someone that gushes over the latest technology and wanting the absolute best visual experience, but with the Switch it comes down to one simple thing: fun. The Switch is just a great console to play with some really fantastic games, and honestly it looks totally fine on my 60” 4K HDR display. In the end, isn’t that what really matters?

Ultimately, I think 2018 is going to be an interesting year for technology, and I do hope that we aren’t going to reach a point of over-saturation to where we get upgrade fatigue and nothing exciting comes our way. That’s kind of the danger, I think, as technology continues to flourish because not all upgrades are vertical. Nonetheless, with the year as early as it is, the best thing we can do is keep an open mind and look forward to whatever does come our way!

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic. So please stay tuned for more crafty content coming your way, care of Jessica's Journey, as written by Joypad Jess from NerdyButFlirty.com.

THE FACE OF GAMING AND TECHNOLOGY IN 2018 THE FACE OF GAMING AND TECHNOLOGY IN 2018 Reviewed by David Andrews on January 25, 2018 Rating: 5

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