Top 10 Most Influential Projects by Industry

Gaming

01
Xbox TV App
Gaming
Dedicated game consoles? That’s so 2021. At least that’s the message Microsoft seemed to be sending with the release of its Xbox TV app. Launched globally in June, it’s designed to give players the feel of traditional gameplay without the cost or limited shelf life of a console. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers who own a 2022 Samsung smart TV can simply log into the app, connect a Bluetooth-enabled controller and start streaming more than 100 games from the cloud. While console gaming may still have the upper hand on video quality, Microsoft is quickly closing the experiential gap between console and cloud.
Demeo Curse of the Serpent Lord game cover art, featuring a diverse set of characters like wizards, warriors and more
02
Demeo
Gaming
Stockholm’s Resolution Games uses VR to take classic tabletop role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, in a totally new direction. And after three years of development, the company released Demeo, a slick, sophisticated game in which players don VR headsets to collaboratively navigate complex, story-driven adventures on a virtual game board. Demeo’s 2021 debut was met with cheers by gamers and critics alike, which helped cinch a US$25 million funding round in July 2021. But rather than catch its breath, the team hit warp speed—developing a non-VR version of the game for computers and rolling out a string of new stories, characters and features.
Two men, one wearing a VR headset, use heavy ropes to make unilateral waves in their workout
03
Liteboxer VR
Gaming
Liteboxer launched as a boxing version of Peloton, combining in-home hardware, gamification and streaming workouts. But in March, the Boston company made headlines when it announced the completion of a two-year project to take its popular, music-driven workouts to the metaverse. Though Liteboxer is a relative pioneer in the fitness metaverse, the landscape could quickly get more crowded: Facebook’s parent company Meta unveiled plans in October 2021 to acquire VR fitness brand Within, and McKinsey estimates metaverse spending could top US$5 trillion in 2030, with the fitness segment helping power that surge.
Computer-aided design data and a 3D model of a large Transformers-esque robot on a rocky wasteland for game designers
04
Unreal Engine 5 for All Creators
Gaming
The pressure is on to dazzle users with mind-blowing in-game visuals, but that has become a whole lot more difficult as the game console universe has expanded. Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 aims to simplify the process for game designers with a sprawling multitool development environment that can take source material, like computer-aided design data or a 3D model, and render multiple versions of the virtual object from a single upload. That means less work for developers—and dramatically better visuals for gamers. In April, on the heels of a US$2 billion investment by Sony and Lego, Epic unveiled its first public version, now beefed up with sample projects, thousands of free assets and a resource-packed community hub. More than 85 game studios already make use of Unreal Engine 5, and with Epic’s open-for-everyone version, the goal is to allow any developer to craft production-ready 3D visuals right out of the gate.
A monitor with the words ROG SWIFT 500 Hz in red next to a black robot
05
500Hz G-sync
Gaming
To the untrained eye—used to looking at an ordinary 60-hertz computer monitor—the world’s first 500-hertz gaming monitor might not look noticeably different. But then it’s not meant for just anyone—it’s specifically targeted to competitive gamers who want the best of the best. In May, U.S. tech giant Nvidia announced it had joined forces with Taiwanese Asus to create the gaming monitor—purpose-built for esports titles, like fighting games, first-person shooters and real-time strategy games. Its high refresh rate reduces latency, allowing gamers to spot targets more quickly and experience less ghosting of animations, reducing distractions during gameplay. Those are the kinds of things that matter to serious gamers who measure progress in the fractions of seconds they can shave off their reaction time.
A black handheld gaming device reminiscent of Nintendo's Game Boy, holding a Belmont's Revenge game card
06
Analogue Pocket
Gaming
In the era of digital detoxes and a resurgence of flip phones, maybe it’s no surprise that one of the most buzzed-about gaming releases is downright retro: Analogue Pocket, an unofficial refresh of Nintendo’s Game Boy. The handheld device gives nostalgia-hungry gamers the chance to replay the many thousands of game cartridges created for the iconic gaming system. With the first round of preorders starting to ship in December 2021, the Pocket has become a hot commodity—not for offering cutting-edge new games, but for a superior playing experience with old games, on a device with a crisp color screen and a rechargeable battery. Still, as one reviewer said: “The waiting list is no joke.”
07
Cloud Alpha Wireless
Gaming
The lifeblood of any electronic device is its battery life. Enter the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless headset, which, at 300 hours of potential play, boasts the longest single-charge battery life in the business. The Cloud Alpha Wireless has many of the same features as its fellow HyperX headsets: plush leatherette earpads, a detachable boom microphone and easy-to-navigate audio controls on the earcup. New additions, though, include 50-millimeter (2-inch) drivers that are slimmer and lighter than those used in previous headsets, leaving more room for that mega battery. Getting the full 300 hours out of a single charge may only be possible under ideal conditions, but even 75 percent of that promised time is days better than most of the competition. Game on.
A person uses a white Picco scanner to scan a blue and green Picco card
08
Picoo
Gaming
Picoo was designed to deliver a literal breath of fresh air into the gaming industry with what its Dutch creators call the world’s first outdoor game console for kids. Requiring no access to Wi-Fi or a mobile network, the set of lighted, handheld controllers comes with cards that are scanned to play classic games like hide-and-seek. But Picoo delivers them with a tech twist that incorporates sound, vibration and motion—so a kid’s controller will light up when they find another player, for example. Designers also built Picoo to detect proficiency levels during a game and then automatically balance the playing field by increasing or decreasing challenges accordingly. It’s social, it’s outside, it’s equitable; what more can a parent ask for these days?
Firefighters in Paris work to hose down the structural fire in the Notre Dame cathedral
09
Save Notre Dame on Fire
Gaming
More than three years after a massive fire nearly destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France’s Ubisoft came up with a way to let gamers battle the blaze. Set on the day of the accident, Save Notre Dame on Fire calls on players to save the famous church. The game was created as a companion to a fictional film about the fire, Notre-Dame Brûle, but its roots go back to Ubisoft’s 2014 Assassin’s Creed Unity. That game featured a highly detailed depiction of the iconic cathedral—which took a Ubisoft artist two years to model—and was so impressive that some gamers even pondered whether it could help in the rebuilding of the real-life structure. It wasn’t detailed enough for that kind of forensic work, but it does give gamers a cathartic piece of historical entertainment.
10
CurseForge Core Software Development Kit
Gaming
Add-on tools and modules are taking gaming into new ultra-custom spaces—with options for players to upgrade their characters’ skills, change up their look and track their stats. Israel’s Overwolf created a platform that gives in-game developers a chance to build, share and monetize their in-game apps and moderations all in one place. Launched last year, the CurseForge Core Software Development Kit makes it even easier to get those products into the hands of game studios and onto the screens of gamers. To build awareness, the company also debuted a US$50 million Creators Fund to not just pay users to build more products, but also connect them to marketing and mentors.