Ever wondered what the most popular videogame is among those who partake in what has now become the widely known genre of virtual photography? A recent study by global consumer brand, Crucial, has revealed not only the most popular and picturesque games, but the most demanding games to run with hefty system requirements and the latest equipment needed to play them smoothly.
Virtual Photography is something that should be on your radar, gaining immense popularity and traction in the industry. NFTs, digital images, screenshot art and AI-powered image generators are slowly becoming the new future of photography.
• We need to talk about the Midjourney Discord-based AI image generator
If you aren't familiar with the concept of virtual in-game photography, here's a quick explainer. Many triple-A games over the last ten years have been released with a feature known as Photo Mode, with consoles such as the Nintendo Switch having a dedicated screenshot button and the PlayStation DualShock4 having a Share button designed for gameplay capture.
The act of screenshotting in-game action predated the implementation of Photo Mode, which is a far better feature and method than simply taking a screen grab (as DCW staff James and Rod will attest, being former videogame journalists!), as it enables gamers to essentially pause during a moment of gameplay and adjust the in-game surroundings.
Gamers can also adjust the current actions, positioning, and facial expressions of a character, or move the camera away from the scene and the main protagonist character entirely to focus on background elements and the landscape instead.
With Photo Mode, depending on the game, players are given the ability to customize features such as depth of field, aperture, brightness, white balance, color effects, aspect ratio, sharpness and motion blur – in similar ways to how we might configure manual settings on a digital camera. For further insight into this new and emerging practice, check out our feature 'Photography-based videogames are gaining popularity'.
Now you're up to speed on what virtual gaming photography is, let's take a look at the research study from Crucial that comprises mostly Instagram post data for its findings. The company has not explicitly specified how it gathered and compiled the statistics for this data table, besides the mention of Instagram posts.
It's unclear which exact hashtags were used on Instagram to search for each game, or what is meant by "Number of photography posts" or "percentage of game photography". This research should therefore be taken with a pinch of salt, though it does provide us with an approximate range of information and food for thought to determine the most picturesque and photo-worthy games.
The table below shows the figures from Crucial's research, revealing the most popular video games for virtual photography in 2022:
|Game||Year of Release||Total number of Instagram posts||Number of Photography posts||Percentage of Game Photography|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||2018||2,186,388||457,005||20.90%|
|Ghost of Tsushima||2020||380,397||65,990||17.35%|
|No Man's Sky||2016||195,557||27,905||14.27%|
|Horizon Forbidden West||2022||148,846||7,824||5.26%|
|Spider-Man: Miles Morales||2020||84,283||2,719||3.23%|
|God of War||2018||1,199,637||24,572||2.05%|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2013||8,216,777||164,451||2.00%|
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla||2020||328,597||6,107||1.86%|
Unsurprisingly, the wild west wonderland of Red Dead Redemption 2 claimed the top spot. The title is supremely popular among virtual photographers, with images from the game even earning a photographer the prestigious title of Virtual Photographer of the Year back in April at the The London Games Festival.
One of the most popular games in the world, Grand Theft Auto V has a surprisingly low rank. However, while the graphics and characters in this game might not be as photogenic as the beautiful streets of Cyberpunk 2077, the open-world and free-roaming elements of GTA V make it a great playground for virtual photographers.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales (as well as its predecessor, Spider-Man) is again enormously popular not only among fans of the web-slinger but also virtual photographers. The game introduced the groundbreaking "Selfie" feature that enabled gamers to take a selfie-style image of Spidey mid-air using Photo Mode, with endless creative possibilities and camera angle adjustments to be made.
See the full report from Crucial to learn what makes each of these games so great, and view the additional research the company has gathered to determine which games require the most hefty setups, by looking at the required CPU, recommended RAM and GPU, and suggested storage size needed for each title.
• You may also be interested in learning how Pokémon Snap is inspiring the next generation of photographers, as well as the 10 best games for virtual photographers.