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The Winds of Change: Free-to-Play, Mobile Gaming Alter Gaming Landscape

By Grant Hatchimonji, Special Report Editor

The video game industry is a strange beast. There’s never any telling when or how it will evolve, if at all.

Where does it stand now? It’s an expansive question, but there are a handful of elements that stand out at the moment. There are some areas of the video game industry that are changing and growing in popularity, like the rise of the free-to-play (F2P) business model, or mobile gaming on devices that aren’t dedicated handhelds. Just a few years ago, nobody could have predicted the popularity of F2P or gaming on mobile OSes like Android or iOS. But now League of Legends, a F2P title, is the most-played PC game in the world, and gaming on devices like smartphones and tablets has begun to outstrip the competition of handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita.

But there are certain facets of the industry that are desperate for change, like the need for innovation in the form of new intellectual properties and the next generation of consoles. A new wave of hardware could pave the way for developers and publishers to create and release new, creative content rather than sticking to the financially safe – but otherwise uninspired – stalwart AAA franchises. And while PC gamers may not need to be as concerned about the Big Three taking their time releasing their next-gen consoles, the issue of hardware is still an important one for that crowd as the debate rages on over which is a better option: build your own machine or buy one pre-assembled?

In this special report, we take a closer look at these crucial aspects of the industry and examine what these trends mean for the future of gaming. Of course, that’s a risky game to play, because we do it with the knowledge that the whole landscape of gaming could change tomorrow.

Assistant Editor Mike Wall also contributed to this special report.

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Video Game State of the Union and the Changes We Need

The video game industry is currently suffering from an innovation draught thanks to a lack of new IPs and next-gen consoles. We take a closer look at the changes that the industry desperately needs to undergo, and why they’re important.

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The Rise of Mobile Gaming

The term “mobile gaming” no longer just applies to dedicated handhelds like the Nintendo 3DS or the PlayStation Vita. The increasing popularity of gaming on mobile operating systems like Android and iOS have brought devices like tablets and even an Android-based microconsole into the fold.

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The Free-to-Play Evolution: You Don’t Have to Pay to Win

What was once an unbalanced business model that favored paying players over those who played for free, free-to-play games are quickly becoming an attractive option for both developers and players alike. Changes like a shift towards the “pay for convenience” structure have made the model more balanced while continuous updates and support lower risks for developers, possibly making F2P the way of the gaming future.

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Gaming Desktops: To Build or To Buy?

Investing in a new gaming rig begs a significant question: are you going to build it yourself, or are you going to buy a pre-assembled model? On the surface, this may seem like a simple debate concerning costs, but there are other, equally important factors to consider when making your choice.

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