But how will that translate to the games we’ll be playing, or the ways in which we’ll be playing them this year?
Before we get into the games themselves, let’s take a quick look at the platforms. The big winner of 2021 was arguably Game Pass, and with Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard earlier this month, that trend looks set to continue. As an aside, Microsoft is now the second largest business in the world behind Apple and one of only four trillion dollar companies in existence.
Meanwhile, PlayStation’s 100million+ PS4 install base keenly awaits news on Sony’s answer to Game Pass, codename Spartacus. While PlayStation Plus and Now have served players a dependable mixture of online multiplayer, exclusive downloads and access to library titles to date, it remains to be seen how Sony will play their hand in the next phase of subscription platforms. After all, a competing subscription system to reach the 116 million PlayStation 4 console owners seems like the next logical step.
Samsung has also entered the fray with the Samsung Gaming Hub announced at CES. It partners with the excellent NVidia GeForce NOW service, which grants cloud access to games on the go, but with graphical capability that only billionaires could previously conceive of. It will also feature the stalled Stadia product, Google’s much lamented foray into streaming. While it backs up the recent catch cry that inevitably gaming will just arrive with the telly, it’s far from fully formed, but an interesting entry into the market nevertheless.
As Sir Ian alluded to, 2022 is already showing heaps of promise, with the release schedule in the first few months of the year full of must-haves. God of War made its long-awaited debut on PC platforms, following in the footsteps of previous PlayStation titles that have made the shift, such as Days Gone and Horizon Zero Dawn. Speaking of which, Horizon Forbidden West, the long-awaited sequel finally arrives on current PlayStation platforms on Feb 18th and already looks set to be a smash hit.
Elsewhere, Dying Light 2: Stay Human arrives on Feb 4th. The follow up to a sleeper hit, this one has a lot of potential. Meanwhile, Total War: Warhammer 3 already has figurine painters jumping up and down with excitement. It’s out on Feb 17th, while Destiny 2: The Witch Queen arrives on Feb 22nd, offering that magical ingredient: crossplay multiplayer. Finally, it would be remiss of us not to mention Elden Ring, which lands on Feb 25th. Team Diva are drooling at the thought of it.
The world of physical gaming events remains an interesting space too. EGX is set to return at the beginning of March, taking its successful 2021 London format to the NEC in Coventry. GDC is the next big ticket item in San Francisco at the end of March (21-25th). Closer to home, the London Games Festival, the BAFTA Games Awards and new kid on the block W.A.S.D are filling up the April calendar.
One event not returning is E3. The June event has been cancelled for the third year in a row, with reasoning largely attributed to its relevance, rather than the impact of COVID on exhibitors or attendees. It remains to be seen whether this is just part of the cycle. E3 was previously ‘cancelled’ in 2007 only to be moved to a set of meeting rooms in Santa Monica, causing uproar in the process. It returned in full force in 2008. In recent, pre-Covid, years the price of attending the show for exhibitors and attendees alike had become unsustainable. Perhaps it’s time for a reset.
In terms of bigger developments, NFTs remain a particularly sticky issue for the games industry. Lauded by some and largely reviled by others, they’re going to remain a hot topic for the months to come. That’s in spite of the negative community reaction to a letter from the President of Square Enix advocating their use in games. Like them or loathe them, NFTs are here to stay, but it remains to be seen how meaningful their integration into video games might be.
One thing is certain, the world of games never stands still. And while Sir Ian is betting on game play and storytelling remaining at the core of quality games development, his interest and involvement in so many of the cutting edge trends in games and game technology just goes to show how innovative the sector is likely to continue to be, throughout 2022 and way beyond.