Tech

From next-gen consoles to 'Half-Life' in VR: Why 2020 is set to be huge for gaming

Key Points
  • This year had its fair share of well-received titles, including "Resident Evil 2," "Apex Legends" and "Super Mario Maker 2."
  • Next year has a lot in store for gamers, from big new releases to the arrival of next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
  • CNBC runs through the key games and next-gen hardware to look out for in the New Year.
Game enthusiasts and industry personnel walk between the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation exhibits at the E3 trade show on June 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Looking back on 2019, the gaming world had a lot to offer when it came to new content.

This year had its fair share of well-received titles, including the remake of "Resident Evil 2," EA's free-to-play "Apex Legends" and Nintendo's "Super Mario Maker 2." Then there was the highly-anticipated game "Death Stranding" which, despite complaints over sluggish gameplay, gained critical acclaim for bringing something new to the table.

But more than anything else, 2019 was a reminder that the life cycles of the two most popular home consoles are nearing their end. Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 were introduced back in 2013, and all eyes have been on Microsoft and Sony in anticipation of what they will be bringing out next.

Looking ahead, there will be no shortage of both content and hardware in 2020, with a slew of big new releases set to come out and next-generation consoles hitting the shelves for the first time in seven years.

Tons of new games

Kicking things off with content, the year 2020 promises a lot in terms of big-name, high-quality video games.

Here's a list of just a few of the hotly-anticipated games coming in 2020:

  • "Final Fantasy VII Remake" (release date: March 3)
  • "Doom Eternal" (release date: March 20)
  • "Resident Evil 3" (release date: April 3)
  • "Cyberpunk 2077" (release date: April 16)
  • "Marvel's Avengers" (release date: May 15)
  • "The Last of Us Part II" (release date: May 29)
  • "Dying Light 2" (release date: Spring)

But one of the biggest surprises for next year came from a well-known brand in PC gaming. Valve broke the silence on the future of its beloved "Half-Life" series, posting a trailer for its latest entry in the franchise: a virtual reality game called "Half-Life: Alyx."

Setting aside the plethora of challenges VR faces — the biggest one currently being convincing enough consumers to buy a VR headset — the move marks a significant return for the publisher in 2020 and yet another attempt to make VR commercially successful.

New ways to play

Microsoft and Sony are set to battle it out with completely new devices that will usher in the next generation of console gaming. Microsoft finally revealed what its next-gen console, the aptly-named Xbox Series X, will look like, while Sony revealed its new gadget will be called the PlayStation 5. Both companies have announced their products will be available in the 2020 holiday shopping season.

The two consoles will pack a hell of a lot of processing power and top of the line graphics, as well as coming equipped with solid-state drives to dramatically reduce load times. In addition to that, Sony has said it will introduce a controller with haptic technology that lets users feel virtual things physically, while Microsoft said its new console will be capable of showing images at up to 120 frames per second.

Microsoft's next-generation Xbox Series X console.
Microsoft

Google, meanwhile, entered the fray in 2019 with a streaming service for games called Stadia. It's still in the very early days — and has been met with mixed reviews so far — but is an early indication that cloud gaming may be a key battleground for industry players in 2020. Cloud gaming has a lot of potential, letting players stream games remotely onto their phones and laptops without requiring dedicated hardware.

It's also reignited speculation over unlikely contenders in the space. Amazon is reportedly working on its own game streaming service, while Apple has already debuted a game subscription service called Apple Arcade.

But returning to the traditional players, Microsoft has made clear it's got a streaming service in the works, which for the time being has been referred to as Project xCloud. It's already started letting people test a beta version, however a release date for the completed service is yet to be confirmed.