2022 In Review: The Last Year of Covid?
The gaming news started big in 2022 with the announcement that Microsoft were buying Activision. And it never quite reached that peak again.
In terms of gaming news, in terms of the games themselves and in terms of the general state of the industry as a whole, 2022 feels like it was a bit of a wash.
That’s not to say it was awful. There were plenty of highlights. But it felt like the final year of covid’s impact. Most major releases were held over from before, and few other things managed to make an impact.
That puts a lot of pressure on the next 12 months. 2023 is looking to be the first real year of a generation that started in 2020.
2022, in contrast, felt like a reminder that we’re not quite there yet.
2022 in AAA Games
Elden Ring was the biggest game of 2022, and I think that says something.
Not that it wasn’t a fantastic game – it was. In fact, it was the most hyped game going for a second there.
But it was an open-world version of a popular franchise announced in 2019 and, after years of silence, finally released to thunderous applause.
When you look at the AAA releases this year, many follow at least part of that pattern.
On PlayStation, we had God of War, Horizon and Gran Turismo. Each was due in 2021, but delayed. Nintendo finally released Bayonetta 3 (announced 2017). Microsoft’s major offering this year, Starfield (announced 2018), was delayed, leaving Xbox without any huge games this winter.
The Last of Us: Part 1 was a remaster of a game from 2013 and Pokemon Legends: Arceus was a “pre-make” linked to 2006’s Diamond and Pearl, to quote The Pokemon Company.
Elsewhere we had major releases for Call of Duty and Sonic The Hedgehog (in his first 3D adventure since 2017). The latter was open world, if you want to add it to the list above. Other major releases included a new Dying Light (announced 2018), a new Borderlands and a new Lego Star Wars (initially due in 2020).
Hey, there’s been some awesome games in 2022. But breaking them down like this suggests we’re on the precipice of something different in 2023.
The Year of the Indie
For every safe AAA game, this year has seen a host of amazing indie games.
On one end of the scale, we’ve seen High On Life prove to be hugely successful in the last couple of weeks. Its humour has made it a hit with gamers, if not with critics. On PlayStation and PC, Stray was also a hit on social media.
And on the other end, we’ve had more serious outings, like Immortality and Tunic. Both tried to do something different from the norm and both were rewarded for it.
At the start of the year we had games like Death’s Door and Nobody Saves the World.
And that’s without the reminder that we got a brand new Monkey Island game this year.
Honestly, this section alone could make up the entire article. It’s been a fantastic year for those of us who don’t mind dropping a couple of As off our AAAs. With the Steam sale rapidly approaching, there’ll be a fantastic opportunity to pick up some of these future classics.
How do you top the biggest publisher purchase ever? Well, it turns out you don’t.
Microsoft announced they intended to buy Activision in January, and while that deal is still going through regulators, it certainly felt like it had weighted the first half of the year.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises. Embracer picking up Square Enix’s western studios was a big surprise, and one that hasn’t really been talked about enough. Grand Theft Auto 6 having a major leak was a first for the franchise and was, frankly, another piece of major dialogue that quickly became yesterday’s chip papers.
Sony bought Bungie, who will continue to publish outside the PlayStation ecosystem.
Talking of Sony, they finally revamped PlayStation Plus, combining PlayStation Now with the monthly game service. Despite big talk, it quickly became clear it wouldn’t rival Game Pass and, I speak from experience here, that Premium couldn’t be less worth it.
In the scope of a major almost $70b purchase of the creator of one of the biggest games of the year, 2022 has felt a little ho-hum in terms of gaming news.
2022 – Conclusion
2023 is going to be an amazing year for gaming. Drama around Activision, the future of our current-gen consoles and the ramping up of development after covid delays mean that the next 12 months will offer no limit of exciting games that truly push the limits of what we can expect. At least, that’s what we’re hoping for.
2022, in comparison, has not been that. It has felt like a connecting year, where most of what has been offered has been delayed from previous years, remastered or remade.
There’s never a bad year in gaming. Especially not when you can rely on subscription services to keep your backlog overflowing. But this year has felt like it lacked a certain something, to say the least.
Once the dust has settled, it’ll be remembered as a year of transition. It’ll be remembered as a time when the fallout of the pandemic was still figuring itself out.