January 19, 2022

The online game tales that outlined the business in 2021

It has been a heck of a yr for the sport business. With the COVID-19 pandemic serving because the backdrop, we’ve had quite a lot of ups and downs this yr. From the most important revelations about Activision Blizzard to the continued semiconductor scarcity that continues to affect manufacturing, 2021 was full of huge headlines. Listed here are among the largest tales that outlined the yr in gaming.

Picture: Nintendo

PS5 and Xbox Collection X nonetheless skinny on the bottom

The pandemic’s affect on manufacturing and world provide chains is probably nowhere extra evident than on the earth of gaming. Greater than a yr out from the launch of the Xbox Collection X and PlayStation 5, each consoles are nonetheless very tough to seek out.

Whereas the inventory shortages could have eased considerably as we moved all year long, it’s exhausting to see proof of that on retailer cabinets. We have now a worldwide semiconductor scarcity to thank for these consoles being exhausting to seek out, and a few within the business are saying that we could also be feeling the results of this scarcity for a while to return.

That isn’t encouraging for many who wish to improve to new {hardware} however must take care of inventory that sells out instantly due to excessive demand, robots that may take a look at sooner than any human, and scalpers who view this scarcity as a approach to make a sleazy buck. Will consoles just like the PS5 and Xbox Collection X develop into simpler to seek out at any level throughout 2022? We’ll maintain our fingers crossed, however after the final two years, we’re not precisely hopeful.

Activision Blizzard makes a foul scandal worse

The controversy about which main writer is the worst stays contentious. Digital Arts, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two are sometimes on the high of the listing, relying on who you ask, but when we needed to decide the worst one for the yr total, it will undoubtedly be Activision Blizzard.


In July, Activision Blizzard was hit with a lawsuit from the California Division of Honest Employment and Housing [PDF] alleging that the writer has allowed a tradition of sexual harassment and abuse to fester for years. Ever since that lawsuit was made public, Activision has seemingly gone out of its approach to act as cartoonishly evil as potential.

As if tone-deaf press releases and bog-standard company empty guarantees weren’t sufficient, Activision Blizzard made issues worse on quite a few events. The DFEH has expanded its lawsuit to allege that the corporate interfered with its investigation, whereas a current bombshell report from The Wall Avenue Journal alleged that Activision chief Bobby Kotick had identified about these sexual misconduct allegations for years, at some factors reportedly hiding these complaints and settlements from the Board of Administrators. For those who thought it couldn’t worsen, the WSJ’s report claims Kotick threatened to kill an assistant at one level.

It’s exhausting to think about how Activision Blizzard’s Board may presumably justify maintaining Bobby Kotick in his place after the yr the corporate simply had, however they’ll in all probability discover some shaky justification for it after which proceed on performing like all is effectively.

The reveal of the Steam Deck impresses

Regardless of 2021’s greatest efforts to stamp out enjoyable and pleasure, there have been nonetheless some shiny spots. Maybe the largest was Valve’s reveal of the Steam Deck, a handheld PC gaming machine that appears like a grown-up Nintendo Swap.


Whereas we’ve but to get our arms on a Steam Deck and take a look at it for ourselves, the promise it makes is an interesting one: play your PC video games on the go along with a fairly highly effective handheld. Whereas the Steam Deck clearly isn’t going to match our gaming desktops and laptops when it comes to energy, the concept of really moveable PC video games is greater than sufficient to make us not care within the least.

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic pressured Valve to delay the Steam Deck’s launch by a few months, however assuming there are not any extra delays, we should always get the possibility to see if the Steam Deck actually achieves the dream beginning in February 2022. If the Steam Deck can ship on its promise, it may very effectively change the way in which we play PC video games.

Microsoft makes an enormous buy

Microsoft kicked off 2021 with a bang, asserting in March that it had accomplished its buy of ZeniMax Media and all of its subsidiaries. Whereas ZeniMax won’t be a family identify, most of the studios below its umbrella are. With this acquisition – which set the corporate again an eye-watering $7.5 billion – Microsoft immediately turned the likes of Bethesda, id Software program, Tango Gameworks, and Arkane Studios (amongst others) into Xbox Sport Studios.


PlayStation dominated the final era with its concentrate on pumping out stellar PS4 exclusives, however with the acquisition of ZeniMax, we noticed Microsoft even the taking part in subject right away. It wasn’t lengthy after the acquisition was accomplished that we noticed many ZeniMax video games come to Xbox Sport Cross, from The Elder Scrolls and Fallout collection to DOOM and Wolfenstein.

However Microsoft didn’t spend $7.5 billion simply to bolster the Xbox Sport Cross library (although that could be a huge perk). The corporate clearly plans to make Bethesda’s huge upcoming video games unique to Xbox and PC, presumably tempting these PlayStation followers who additionally wish to play The Elder Scrolls VI or future Fallout titles over to staff Xbox. Whether or not or not these unique Bethesda titles will drive Xbox gross sales that in any other case could not have occurred stays to be seen, however having huge franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout as exclusives definitely isn’t going to harm.

Sony goes procuring

Microsoft wasn’t the one firm to jot down some checks this yr. Sony did the identical factor, although it made smaller, way more centered acquisitions than Microsoft did. This yr alone, Sony has acquired studios corresponding to Housemarque, Nixxes Software program, Firesprite, Fabrik Video games, Bluepoint Video games, and Valkyrie Leisure.


A few of these are apparent purchases. Housemarque, as an illustration, developed Returnal, one of many earliest PlayStation 5 exclusives out of the gate and a title that you simply’ll little doubt see on quite a lot of year-end “Better of” lists. In the meantime, Nixxes has been chargeable for lots of Sony’s PC ports, suggesting that these will solely proceed sooner or later. Bluepoint, alternatively, has made a number of enhanced remakes, together with Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls.

Maybe the strangest of Sony’s acquisitions this yr was that of Evolution Championship Collection, or Evo for brief. Evo is among the largest – if not the largest – combating recreation tournaments of the yr, so we see Sony dipping its hand into the world of esports right here. Technically, Sony’s acquisition of Evo is a three way partnership with one other esports firm referred to as Endeavor, so it doesn’t have sole possession over the event, however we’re nonetheless excited to see how the occasion could change with Sony calling at the least among the pictures.

This isn’t the Swap Professional you’re searching for

It looks like ever for the reason that Nintendo Swap first launched in 2017, there have been whispers and rumors about an upcoming Swap Professional. After all, the rumored specs of such a machine modified a number of occasions all through the years, however basically, it was mentioned to be a extra highly effective model of the Swap. Typically, these Swap Professional rumors have been paired with discuss of a handheld-only Swap Lite, so when that turned a actuality in 2019, many individuals anticipated the Swap Professional rumors to pan out the identical approach.

Whereas 2021 did carry us a brand new Swap, what we bought definitely wasn’t the Swap Professional. As an alternative, Nintendo launched the Swap OLED, a console that solely provides upgrades over the usual Swap in a couple of very particular areas.

Because the identify suggests, the Swap OLED has an OLED show that appears fairly good. It additionally has a greater kickstand, extra inner storage, and a brand new dock, however it’s functionally the identical as the usual dock past an built-in LAN port. Whereas we discovered that Swap OLED is the mannequin to purchase for many who are shopping for a Swap for the primary time, it’s not well worth the improve for present Swap homeowners. After cautious evaluation, we decided that this positively isn’t the Swap Professional, so hopeful Swap homeowners must maintain ready.

Sora confirmed for Smash

The madmen truly did it. The final DLC fighter for Tremendous Smash Bros. Final was confirmed to be none aside from Sora from the Kingdom Hearts collection after years of what the fanbase figured was pie-in-the-sky dreaming.

In some way, Nintendo labored it out with Disney and Sq. Enix, and the consequence was one heck of a send-off for the largest Tremendous Smash Bros. recreation ever created. Savor the sensation, Smash Bros. followers, as a result of the lengths Nintendo nearly definitely needed to go to make this deal work virtually ensures we’ll by no means see a personality reveal on this stage once more.

Billion-dollar firm sues trillion-dollar firm, nothing modifications

Apple and Epic went at it within the courtroom this yr, with Epic making an attempt to dodge the hefty 30% charge Apple takes on every iOS App Retailer transaction. Final yr, Epic began promoting a direct cost technique within the iOS model of Fortnite that will have sidestepped the App Retailer’s cost programs, that means Epic may maintain that lower for itself.

Apple clearly didn’t like that, so it eliminated Fortnite from the iOS App Retailer and took away Epic’s growth privileges. Epic was apparently ready for this response and shot again with a lawsuit towards Apple, alleging it was monopolistic with the iOS App Retailer’s guidelines and asking to not solely have Fortnite reinstated but additionally to compel Apple to permit builders to speak about alternate cost strategies in-app.

The lawsuit was determined totally on Apple’s favor earlier this yr, however even the one win Epic bought is on maintain till the appeals course of is over, so for now, not a lot has modified. Fortnite stays unavailable on iOS, however past that, it was simply two corporations with a ton of cash bickering over charges in entrance of a choose.

Lucasfilm Video games returns and the Star Wars license spreads

Shortly after 2021 started, Disney introduced that it was reviving the Lucasfilm Video games model to behave because the licensor of Lucasfilm properties for video video games. That wasn’t the large announcement – LucasArts had been licensing these properties for video games since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, so formally, this was solely a reputation change and never way more.

What adopted that identify change have been the large bulletins. We realized that Machine Video games will likely be creating an Indiana Jones title with Bethesda performing as writer, whereas numerous studios are engaged on new Star Wars video games. We all know that Large Leisure is engaged on an open world title, whereas Quantic Dream has already teased its narrative-driven Star Wars recreation, and Aspyr has revealed its Knights of the Previous Republic remake. When you think about that Respawn Leisure is sort of definitely engaged on a follow-up to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, there’s so much to be enthusiastic about in case you’re a Star Wars fan.

There’s loads of motive to be excited to see Star Wars increase to different publishers and studios other than Digital Arts. Though we’ve gotten previous the loot field debacle that marred the launch of Star Wars Battlefront II years in the past, it’s nice to listen to that a number of studios are engaged on their very own Star Wars universe titles. Maybe these upcoming video games can fill the void that continues to be following a sure underwhelming sequel trilogy? Right here’s hoping.


So, on the finish of all of it, 2021 was a yr of some thrilling highs, some shockingly low lows, and so much in between. It definitely wasn’t essentially the most unbelievable yr within the video games business, however after the entire delays we’ve seen in 2021, 2022 is wanting like a very robust yr. Hopefully, the worldwide semiconductor scarcity will ease subsequent yr so we will correctly get shifting on to the subsequent era and all that it entails.

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