So, game announcement season (or not-E3, or Game Fest, or Geoff Fest, or whatever we’re calling it these days) came and went with a bit of a whimper. There was some good stuff announced, and a few nice little surprises (there was a great turnout from indies, in particular), but where was all the big stuff? The games that cause the industry to draw a collective breath like in the best E3s of old? The games that set social media and gaming forums ablaze with shock and excitement?
I’ve been trying to think about the big games I’m most looking forward to in the not too distant future, and unless I venture into ‘TBC 2023’ territory, I’ve got nothing. Now I know there are plenty of mid-tier and indie games to get excited about this year, but there’s nothing quite like a blockbuster to get the industry talking, and this year seems strangely devoid of them.
We had Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon: Forbidden West this year, of course — three huge games by any standard — but it didn’t help that they were released so early, and all within a couple of weeks of each other.
Sony’s silence is probably the most concerning. The company has an enviable line-up of first-party devs who do nothing better than put out big-budget blockbusters, but its studios seem eerily quiet at the moment. Put The Last of Us Remake to one side and God of War is the only big first-party PlayStation game announced with a 2022 release date. Put aside Spider-Man 2, and it’s the only big first-party PlayStation title announced at all.
PlayStation’s top dogs are never shy to talk about big games ahead of time, even when the game schedule is full. So the current silence around God of War and its release date is deafening. Especially when PlayStation’s line-up is far from stacked this year. There are rumours that an announcement is imminent, but it seems pretty clear that Sony has waited until the very last minute before confirming a date. Or indeed a delay.
Similarly, Microsoft have spent Dr Evil levels of money vacuuming up studios known for blockbuster games ($7.5 billion for Bethesda, and $68 billion for Activision Blizzard), yet the two getting everyone most excited were quickly shifted into 2023.
The world spent the best (worst?) part of two years in lockdown, and although working from home is undoubtedly viable in most cases it would seem this year we’re really feeling the effects of that disruption within the games industry. Everything sort of feels like it’s on pause at the moment, and it would seem that the big games in the initial stages of development when lockdown arrived were the ones hit hardest. The ones we should have been playing over the next few months.
It’s a shame we’re going through a bit of a slow year for games, but the point of this newsletter is to try and stay positive and to share the good things in gaming… So at least we can look forward to a bumper 2023! And at least Game Pass and the new PlayStation Plus (alongside Switch Online and never-ending PC deals) mean we can experience a drought of new games whilst simultaneously drowning in old ones.
Let’s see this sort-of gap year as an opportunity to revisit some classics we’ve missed, to really make a dent in those backlogs we’ve complained about for so long, and to get our money’s worth from those subscription services we really should be using more.