2023: The Next Generation Begins
Welcome to 2023 – the first year of the next generation. And I don’t mean that sarcastically, and it’s not a dig at the games that have come until this point. This year is going to be the start of something brand new.
That’s not all we have to look forward to. This year is going to see huge changes in the gaming world.
We have the launch of a brand new VR device, and the potential completion of the biggest gaming acquisition of all time. There are rumours aplenty about gaming shows, new reveals and all sorts of other things.
2023 is going to be a great year for gaming, in part thanks to covid. The pandemic hit hard, and we’ll see what happens now we’re (mostly) out the other side.
Way back before the Series X and PS5 came out, I asked whether we needed to re-examine how we count generations. When we have games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII: Remake, what difference does it make where they’re played?
Maybe you can have a slightly bigger resolution on the newer devices, or the framerate is higher. Maybe there are more effects. But there was a massive difference between Knack and God of War: Ragnarok. It’s time to start making that transition.
Luckily there are more “next-gen” exclusives than ever. We have two Final Fantasy games – Final Fantasy XVI and VII Rebirth. Rebirth is a fantastic game to watch out for. I consider it one of the last great games of the PS4/Xbox One generation, and its sequel will show how far things have come.
Starfield – touch wood – will finally make it to release. I want to say it will finally mark the new era of Bethesda with Xbox, but Redfall will probably be out first. That said, a new Bethesda IP is always going to be big news. Watch for it in all the game awards discussions in December.
In fact, Xbox has a lot to prove in 2023. They have a roster of games ready for release, all into Game Pass. But after a lacklustre 2022, 2023 needs to shine for Microsoft. Their new sub-based strategy only works if there’s a buzz around content. We saw it with High on Life, but it needs to start coming from within the first party catalogue.
Talking of first party, Sony’s biggest release this year could be Spider-Man 2. I say could be because, although Insomniac came out to reconfirm it recently, we should have all learned from the last few years that a game can be delayed right up until release. And Spidey is already set for Autumn. That’s not a lot of wiggle room if wiggling is required.
Nintendo looks set to have a pretty tremendous year too, led from the front by Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Switch owners will not be disappointed.
That’s unless they’re hoping for new hardware. Nintendo’s console is long in the tooth, and it’s going to become more obvious as we start seeing bigger and better things from the PS5 and Series X.
But will Nintendo announce new hardware? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I’d be happy to be wrong. I wrote in the Christmas shopping guide that Nintendo could announce a new device at any minute and it wouldn’t be surprising. We don’t know what that device would look like, and we don’t know if it’d be backwards compatible. Is 2023 the year that we finally see what Nintendo are cooking next?
There probably won’t be much else to look forward to hardware-wise. Numbers will be the name of the game. If more hardware can be shipped, how will sales figures start to look? Can PlayStation 5 push itself further away from Xbox, or will the current proportion of sales stay fairly solid? It’ll also be interesting to see how the Steam Deck continues to grow. It certainly seems a popular device, but does it have longevity? It’s a great new way to experience PC gaming, and that’ll be rewarded by core gamers.
That’s especially important when graphics card prices are as high as they are. For a top end graphics card, you’ll be selling arms, legs or newborns, depending on your preferences. And diminishing returns mean mroe people than ever are asking whether it’s really worth it. 2023 could see that bubble burst and pricing become more accessible again. But hey, maybe I’m just being optimistic.
If we could’ve guessed the Activision purchase would begin just weeks into 2022, we’d be buying way more lottery tickets. As it happens, the biggest news always takes us by surprise.
Then again, it might be that the Activision/Microsoft merger remains the biggest news for 2023. There’s certainly still a lot going on with it, and it’s possible it doesn’t complete until 2024.
Sony will continue to bolster its studios, although on what scale will have to be seen. Tencent and Embracer have their wallets open too. Chances are things will stay quiet… for now. But the second half of the year could be much more surprising.
Elsewhere, we’ve got teases for new work from Atlas and perhaps a return from the Metal Gear Solid franchise. There’s also a surprise Final Fantasy game coming this year – potentially the Final Fantasy 9 remake mentioned in the nVidia leak.
We could fill a book with everything 2023 might be. I’ve barely touched on third party games, and there are mountains of those to go through. Will Resident Evil 4 live up to expectations? How big a bomb will Forspoken be?
Today we’ve touched, briefly, on what we might expect from the coming year. If nothing else, it will be a banner year for post-covid gaming. I’m expecting a little bit more though. I think this is the first year we start to see a new generation of consoles. Not by hardware, but by design capabilities, by levels of awe.
If nothing else, we will see a huge influx of exciting titles to keep us busy month in, month out. Which has to be better than 2022. Let the fun begin.