2023: A Look at the Third Parties
My round-up of 2023 glossed over third party support. In a year that’s going to be dominated by first party bighitters, it seemed like there just wasn’t the space. But here we go: a closer look at some of the third party games that we’ll be talking about this time next year too.
Some of them we’ll be talking about positively, others not so much. Some will surprise, others will disappoint.
I’ve tried to avoid timed exclusives unless there’s absolute guarentee (including release date and store) that it’ll be released this year. I’m also not going into exclusives.
Hogwart’s Legacy will probably be one of the biggest sellers of the year. It’s being heavily advertised and, even if it wasn’t, the Harry Potter crowd will Accioing it all up the second it comes out anyway.
Controversy around JK Rowling probably won’t touch it sales wise. Worse, considering the author’s lack of direct involvement in it, it’ll probably play it enourmously safe and sell a billion copies anyway.
In a year that’ll see Tears of the Kingdom and Starfield explore new facets of what open world really means, Hogwart’s Legacy will likely lean back on old tropes. That’s okay. Safe isn’t a bad thing. But expect decent reviews, high sales and endless Easter egg chatter online.
The controversy will be talked about more than it will be acted on. Those who dislike Rowling’s view of trans people – and there are many of them – will only make an impact if they don’t buy the game. And they’ll largely buy the game.
This’ll be one of the biggest releases of the year. It’ll be popular to bash it if it’s not absolutely perfect. Those numbers will keep flying up reegardless.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
The most popular Resident Evil game gets a remake. It has a lot to prove, nonetheless.
Hardcore gamers are already sold. So long as early reviews are good and no major cuts are discovered, it could improve greatly on the original. Quality of life and 2023 graphics alone will make this worth checking out.
Resident Evil 2 sold around 10m copies, with Resident Evil 3 selling around half of that so far. Is that a sign of franchise fatigue or the percieved shortness of Resi 3?
I don’t think it matters. 4 is a flagship moment for the franchise and even if the remake doesn’t sell massively at launch, it’ll have an extraordinarily long tail. And I’d bet on it selling fantastically at launch.
Forspoken got a poorly recieved demo and some developer comments about the black main character has left a negative taste in the mouth…
But Forspoken could be a surprise hit. Surprisingly not called Final Fantasy, this game from the team behind Final Fantasy XV will have to work hard to find its audience. If it shines through, it could be an interesting new venture for Square Enix. That’s a big if.
In a year with a lot going on, the best Forspoken has going for it is that it is an PlayStation console exclusive. It’ll launch on PC day one. Will that make it a more attractive buy to single-console fans?
With Dead Space and Monster Hunter: Rise coming out in the same month, there’s no lack of other releases. Still, this might not do as badly as some are predicting.
Like a Dragon: Ishin
A brave new era for Yakuza. A new name, a new remaster of a classic spin-off.
Like a Dragon: Ishin takes the Yakuza (now called Like a Dragon in English too) format and paints it in the distant past, far from 2023.
It’ll be getting day one release on every console, isn’t a mainline game and won’t be straight into Game Pass (that we know of). It’ll be interesting to see how things go for a franchise that, until recently, was lucky to sell a million units. SEGA are all in on this franchise. Hopefully fans will be too.
Skull and Bones
There is so little expectation around Skull and Bones. But it’ll still go terribly. Because, frankly, nobody asked for this all those years ago when it was announced, and less people want it in 2023.
Ubisoft’s Black Flag(!) spin-off has been a long time coming. But its forced GAAS features and the lack of general fanfare means it’ll probably go down like a cannon ball on a hot air balloon.
It’ll be talked about, don’t doubt that. If it lasts to the end of the year, people will still be talking about it too.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
A Star Wars game is always going to be a big deal, but Survivor seems more justified than usual. The original game was a huge hit. Mixing Souls-like combat with sprawling Metroidvania-style planets, there were a few pleasant surprises along the way too.
Like the original, I expect this to make a big splash in 2023. Will it have longevity though, and will it standout against other big games of the year? It’ll be a great game, lost in a sea of other great games. Which is fine – that’s sometimes what happens and it’s not a negative about Star Wars at all. More interestingly, how will it hold up against Hogwarts Legacy?
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
It has been eight years since Arkham Knight hit shelves. In fact, that ended up fairly controversial too. It’s been 11 years since Arkham City, the last universally praised Batman game.
Gotham Knights failed to live up to that hype. Suicide Squad, while not really the same thing, is being made by the same people, within the same DC franchise, and that is almost certainly going to result in comparisons. And if those comparisons aren’t favourable, it’s going to be a really interesting conversation going forward.
With everything going on at Warner Bros., this feels like a make it or break it moment. Perhaps that’s overly dramatic – you never know what’s going on behind conference room doors, after all. But regardless, there’s a lot riding on it in terms of fan perception.
Street Fighter 6
Street Fighter is an institution. In the modern world of GAAS, it’s also a decent platform for the franchise going forward.
The fact that it’s multiplatform has already caused some surprise, given that the last entry skipped Xbox entirely. It was a move that really hurt the fighting game community on that platform, and it’ll be interesting to see if this goes towards healing some old wounds.
For fans of the genre, this is the release of the year. For everybody else, the biggest conversations will be around controversy. From new character designs to if the game doesn’t stand-up, it’s biggest splash is likely to be negative. That’s just what happens with niche genres that aren’t instantly accessible.
Whatever happens, it’ll be around for a long time. And let’s face it, it’ll ultimately find its fans.
There are still dozens of games that I don’t have space for here today. 2023 is going to be one of those kinds of years.
And that’s not including all those games that don’t fit the criteria of multiplatform, or with solid release dates for other platforms. Final Fantasy XVI, for instance, could just scrape into the end of the year, if Square decide to do so. Epic Games fans, look forward to that.
But if nothing else, all this just proves how stacked this year is going to be. Day one purchasers are going to have well-thumbed wallets, that’s for sure.
This is just the things we know about. Expect more surprises before the year is out.
In my earlier 2023 article, I said this was the start of the next generation. I think it’s obvious from the above that that’s true for third parties too. Not always in terms of hardware, but certainly in terms of scale.