2021 Was the Year of Covid – and 2022 Will Be Too
New Years is usually the time when we reflect on the past 12 months. And in the case of 2021 one word sticks out: covid. It influenced our day-to-day lives, our politics, our jobs. It impacted our video games, and it will continue to do so.
Sony and Nintendo released so few mainstream games last year, while Microsoft’s biggest title came along after a year’s delay. The already barren first years of the new console generation were about as bad as they ever could be.
And I don’t mean that too negatively. Ratchet and Clank was great, as was Forza. Metroid Dread got great reviews and Returnal is on my must-play pile too. Deathloop seems to have had a muted release, despite praise, something that I imagine will change once its weird exclusivity status works itself out.
And on the face of it, 2022 is already better. We have Horizon, God of War, Starfield, Nintendo will, no doubt, pull some rabbits out of their hat.
And yet the feel of covid will never be far away.
Another year of Covid
Besides anything, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Talking about it in past tense is easy, because life is all but back to normal for many of us.
So when Sonic Frontiers is released later this year, remember it is a 2021 game pushed back for a year because the team had to get to grips with working remotely. If it is poor, it won’t be much of a surprise. If it is incredible, know it is incredible with all the pressure of covid hanging over it.
But that’s not the end. 2022 will again be filled with games that get pushed back and pushed back. Pragmata, a game from Capcom, is the first of many. John Wick 4, originally set to release on the same day as the Matrix 4 (which itself was meant to release months ago, but hit cinemas just before Christmas) was delayed too. And if it’ll happen to a film, it’ll happen to games.
Of course, many of the games I mentioned above as 2022 will also be coming to older consoles. I’ve always said this isn’t a massive problem. Scaling down isn’t a huge burden.
But without new generation consoles to buy as the chip shortage continues, publishers will likely continue their cross-gen strategies into 2023.
Having seen The Matrix demo, we know what these consoles are capable of, albeit in a pretty tight environment. But is there much incentive to actually make these games? At this point probably not.
They will come – of course they will. But when? That is anybody’s guess.
Covid in 2022 – Conclusion
Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean anything has actually changed. The pandemic will continue to impact on everything video games for at least the next 18 months. Hopefully that’ll be to a lesser and lesser degree with covid testing near me available. But games starting development today are doing so under the new normal, despite the fact we haven’t really decided what that might look like yet.
There will be amazing games in 2022, just like there were amazing games in 2021. There will be disappointment, and childish cries of “that isn’t next-gen”.
It’s going to be an interesting 12 months.