The video game industry has taken a severe hit from the impact of COVID-19. Hardware and software sales skyrocketed in 2020 as people were stuck at home with little else to do. But this situation hampered the development of upcoming games, resulting in a sterile catalog of the past two years. The number of matches fell sharply after that Fire Ring and God of War: Ragnarok.
Today, when development has resumed in full swing, 2023 could mark a huge comeback for the players. Piers Harding-Rolls, research director of UK market research firm Ampere Analysis, said he expected a recovery after spending in this area fell 4% this year.
One of the reasons why investment is expected to increase is that players are ready for new games. Getting your hands on a next-gen console like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X hasn’t been easy over the past few years, but supply constraints have finally eased to the point where you can reasonably get one in the past few years . months.
This year also saw the release of Valve’s Steam Deck, a portable gaming device that was also difficult to purchase at the start of 2022, but became more available at the end of the year. More players with the latest hardware means more players want to buy the latest titles.
While it is important for them to have equipment, it is equally important that they have new games to play. Due to COVID delays, titles slated for release in 2022 have been pushed back to 2023. Combine these delayed games with others already slated for next year and you get what could be a great year for game releases.
“There’s really a lot of content coming next year”said Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “I would say it will be the most important thing since 2019”.
Among the big budget video games that have been pushed back from 2022 to 2023 are Starfield from Bethesda Game Studios, Diablo 4 from Blizzard Entertainment and Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from Nintendo.
Add to that other titles planned for 2023, below Final Fantasy XVI, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Street Fighter VI, Resident Evil 4 remake and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and you get an impressive list. And chances are, more games slated for 2023 will be announced next year.
Covid continued to impact the market in 2022
Although this year has seen the release of some amazing games including Fire Ring and God of War: Ragnarok, there were long periods of slack. Between May and October, only a handful of critically acclaimed games were released, e.g Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and niche indie games wandering and Neon white. Even some high-profile games, such as Pokemon Scarlet and Violetseemed to need time to correct many errors.
It was the impact of confinement that eventually affected the players. With developers stuck at home and unable to effectively collaborate on large projects, publishers delayed title after title. But since the industry already had a nice stock of games ready at the height of the pandemic, gamers didn’t feel a big drought in 2020 in 2021.
The situation was comparable to the film industry, which experienced several weekends where major film releases were rare or non-existent and theaters remained empty. Major movies have been delayed this year and pushed back to 2023, inclusive Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Versethat Mario movie, Aquaman 2, Madame Web and The lightning.
And as with the games industry, there are predictions of a rebound for cinemas in 2023 with a number of highly anticipated titles.
The rise of subscription services
Although few big budget games were released in most of 2022, gamers did not pay attention to them because their own game catalog has grown thanks to subscription services from Microsoft and Sony. Both companies stepped up their efforts in 2022, resulting in an abundance of games offered at an affordable price.
This year, Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media – which includes award-winning game developers such as Bethesda, id Software and Arcane Studios – continued to pay off for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. One of the best games of 2021, death loop, arrived on the subscription service after the end of its PS5 exclusivity period. So some bethesda classic games has especially moved to the PC Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, Quake 4, Back to Castle Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Red Guard and Wolfenstein 3D. Next year, Game Pass subscribers will be able to play some big titles from day one, e.g Starfield, red fall and Forza Motorsport.
Next year could be even bigger for Game Pass if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved. The nearly $69 billion deal would likely mean that Activision Blizzard’s game catalog, incl call of duty, Diablo and Starcraft, would be available on Game Pass. However, Microsoft faces resistance from regulators in the US and the EU, who fear that the Xbox manufacturer has a monopoly. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to block the deal, although Microsoft decided to make several concessions, including bringing the Call of Duty franchise to the Nintendo Switch and allowing Sony to add the shooter series to its subscription service, PlayStation Plus.
Sony, meanwhile, has improved its standing with gamers by revamping its PlayStation Plus service this year. The PlayStation maker now offers a tiered subscription that allows gamers to play the latest games from PS4 and PS5, or pay a little extra to test classic titles from the PS1, PS2 and PS3 generations. While PlayStation Plus still doesn’t beat Xbox Game Pass, it’s a much better alternative than what Sony previously offered.
Given these three factors—hardware availability, big budget game releases, and competitive subscription services— 2023 should be a very interesting year for video games.
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CNET.com article adapted by CNET France
Feature image source: Dan Ackerman/CNET.com