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Video Game Trends 2023: A Voiceover Perspective



The Rise of the Female Lead

When I watched the Game Awards last month, one thing really came across. There was a slew of award-winning games with strong female leads and characters. It’s something that the industry has been working up to since some 48% of people who play games are females. Gaming has come a long way, since the original Ms. Pac Man! It seems also that all genders are playing these female led games, which helps explain the continuing draw of the female protagonist.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was undoubtedly one of the first female starring ‘mega’ franchises that started out in 2001. It has had many modes and developers of the franchise, since then. Just out recently is a cartoon like mobile version called Tomb Raider Reloaded. Lara Croft is joined by Bayonetta and Ellie (The Last of Us), as some of the most popular characters out there in the video game universe. All this is promising news for females getting in or already in the video game industry.


Video Game Spinoffs

And like the Last of Us and Lara Croft, video games are not only spinning off into other games. They are becoming multimedia multiformat conglomerations. Video games are turning into series, movies, toys and even board games. These spin-offs will inevitably lead to more work for the gaming voice, to also be the toy voice or the series voice. These mega media franchises have been successful in the past and will continue to help keep their loyal fans playing their games. Games like Mario Kart & Pokemon have been some of most successful IP’s, in reinventing their games on different media platforms.


Trending Game Platforms

All ages are enjoying gaming as an important form of interactive entertainment. Makes sense that more platforms are coming out to play. Streaming giants are some of the 'relative' newcomers entering the gaming industry. Some are creating original content but most are joining with well-established software companies to either create their own games or create content sequels/spinoffs for existing games. Expect more opportunities for those both making and playing games.


One of the newer kids on the block having launched late 2021. Currently mobile gaming only with a variety of genres, including popular Netflix original spinoffs like Stranger Things and the upcoming release of The Shadow & Bone game. Currently around 40 exclusive games, with many more expected to be released this year, such as an untitled Assassins Creed game. Netflix has acquired 6 gaming studios, which no doubt has helped with its gaming expansion. According to app tracker, an estimated less than 1% of Netflix's 221 million subscribers use Netflix gaming daily but that still amounts to 1.7 million daily users. Netflix gaming is included in the general Netflix memberships.


Amazon Gaming (3 options)

Prime Gaming: Amazon gaming first started in 2012. They have had a few Amazon original game releases in the last couple of years, alongside some studio partnerships games. An agreement with Crystal Dynamics was just recently announced for a new, multi-platform Tomb Raider game. Prime gaming currently includes about 17 games, game perks and Twitch.tv, + and is included with Amazon Prime membership, although some games do have purchase add-ons.

Other Amazon gaming subscription options:

Amazon Luna+: Favorite games from across all gaming genres (extra subscription price)

Ubisoft Plus+ option: A selection of Ubisoft games (extra subscription price)


Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming Cloud beta gaming was released late 2019 with Xbox subscribers on board a year later. Over 100 games available in conjunction with their Xbox franchise. This now allows subscriptions to play Xbox games on game devices, like newer window devices, iPhones, iPads, and Samsung TV’s. There are also some Microsoft Cloud Learning Games available for training purposes. Wonder if their acquisition of Activision Blizzard this year, will go ahead?

GeForce (Nvidia) Chip processor company started in 2000. Their Beta gaming started in 2015, with their official gaming role out in 2020. 1500+ games available on supported devices like desktops, laptops, mobile devices and smart TV’s. One hour and monthly memberships available. Definitely one of the biggest competitors out there!

A lot of last year’s trends will continue this year. New options for gaming interface (VR and AR) and the immersion of limitless gaming boundaries (cross platform integration) will continue. What won’t change will be the challenges to keep upping the ante, from all sides of the industry.


Credible Characters

The trend for grounded real performance will continue. So will the need to train as an actor, to understand how to squeeze the nuance out of a script and how to translate that into a compelling game audio performance.

Existing performers (stage and screen) will see gaming increasingly as a genuine opportunity to grow their careers (rather than a side hustle to pay the bills). As the number of roles increase, so will the competition for them.

Casting authentically to the character is now the norm. It will be interesting to see if this starts moving towards native accent, as well as ethnicity.


Turning up the sound

On the flip side, as voice becomes easier to integrate and the desire to improve the narrative in games to retain player interest and engagement increases, expect to see more and more voice roles available. Some of which will likely include AI voices. Mobile games, once the preserve of the voiceless casual game, are increasingly including voice lines in-game, developing storylines and cut scenes, and creating dramatic trailers to promote their games, all of which create more speaking characters.


Video games are now front and center in the minds of the top executives in the entertainment industry and that’s great news for the voiceover industry!

 
Ian Russell

Ian Russell is a British Voiceover Artist specializing in commercial voice over, narration, video game, character voices, animation and more. He is a frequent guest speaker on conference panels and podcasts, sharing knowledge about voice over. Read More >>

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