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Covid is still biting – and game delays are the result

With Horizon pushed back and Dying Light quickly following it, we’re obviously still seeing covid rearing its ugly head. And with hints that more delays are on the way, it could be a difficult few months for gamers everywhere.

The reality is that working practices have been torn apart over the last 18 months, and the result is that Christmas is going to be pretty barebones for most. If you’re not into Halo or Forza, you better get into them fast.

Delays should be expected, but how is this going to impact on the rest of the generation?

Delays and Covid

The generation so far has not been awe-inspiring. We’ve had very nice-looking titles like Demon’s Souls and Resident Evil: Village, and Flight Simulator will always be impressive. But none of these speak for what the generation to come will look like.

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We can look back in confusion because we live in a post-covid world – or as close to post-covid as you can get when the horrible virus is still around. We live in a world that’s trying to pretend it’s gone away. That’s almost the same thing. Development was hit long before the new consoles came out. What we got, therefore, was pretty impressive. We won’t be playing Horizon this Christmas, we will be playing Forza and Halo. We won’t be playing Dying Light, but we have new versions of Death Stranding to enjoy.

But a post-covid world means more than just getting rid of the virus. We now have games that have been pushed back multiple times, especially in Japan. We have a Nintendo with a huge question mark over it, because God knows what they’ll be doing in 12 months. The entire generation is being artificially stretched by these delays. And while it’s better for the state of the games themselves, we have to ask what that means for where we’ll be in a few years time.

Hopefully covid will be little more than a memory, at least for most of us. But beyond that, what will it mean for the games?

A Longer Generation

We already know that there are issues with pushing forward consoles these days. We don’t have the kinds of leaps we had going from the SNES to the N64 because those kinds of leaps don’t exist. Prices aren’t likely to be coming down either. It’s the main reason Microsoft said it created the Series S – the full-fat PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t going to be hitting £300 any time soon.

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Which begs one question. What the hell is going to happen next?

We can slap together a couple of Pro consoles that can do full 4K maybe. Bam. Maybe some tensor cores for machine learning. Great. Actual generation-defining improvements beyond that seem an awfully long way away. Both in terms of tech and cost.

The good news, if it’s good news, is that we’re rapidly approaching the end of year one here, and the generation hasn’t even really begun. If we were to go another five, six or, God forbid, seven years, there’s still a lot of headroom. That’s especially true if we start seeming some machine learning stuff in the current consoles, which we know is possible. To what extent – especially on PlayStation – we don’t know. But we know it could happen.

So a slow start might prove to be a bonus to both main console makers. Because once the more impressive games start to drop, it’ll feel like the generation has started all over again. The dust will be cleared, the remakes and remasters will be a thing of the past (HA!) and the cosnoles will start coming into their own.

At least, that’s what Sony and Microsoft need to make happen. If they don’t, this is going to feel like a very long generation.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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