What Was 2021’s Biggest Video Game? The Waiting Game


Like most different actions, sport growth slowed to a halt as COVID-19 burst into our lives in 2020. Speedy shifts in office environments and security mandates disrupted many a sport’s growth. Video games nonetheless got here out that yr, however new releases had been restricted to video games that had already been introduced for 2020 and had been very near completion.

It wasn’t till this yr that the trade actually felt the impact of the 2020 slowdown. Video games had been delayed throughout the board and releases had been slower than traditional, each indicators of an trade that was struggling to discover a mannequin that labored for builders and gamers alike. That doesn’t meant that nothing main got here out in 2021. Titles like Halo Infinite, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Aside, and Metroid Dread hit storefronts, each bodily and digital. However the ultimate launch record was a lot slimmer than anticipated.

As an alternative, this yr noticed quite a lot of long-term bulletins and teases for video games that received’t be arriving for fairly some time. E3 gave us a take a look at the long-awaited Elden Ring, which received’t be launching till February 2022. Followers heard little or no about “The Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” which nonetheless has neither a launch date nor a correct title. As thrilling because it was to see the trade try to get up from an extended COVID hibernation, lots of gaming’s most anticipated titles are both slated for years down the street or have been delayed previous their unique launch dates. It’s occurred usually sufficient over the previous 12 months to make me say that 2021’s greatest sport was, for sure, the ready sport.

Coming in 2022

In 2021, avid gamers heard one specific phrase again and again: “Coming in 2022.” It was used to explain extremely anticipated video games like Elden Ring, which we all know fairly a bit about, in addition to titles like Bethesda’s Starfield, which we don’t. Bethesda hit a brand new low by sharing that followers wouldn’t get extra details about Starfield till the summer time of 2022, basically asserting an announcement in an try to construct hype.

The reality is that it’s onerous to hype a sport that gamers don’t know something about. Hype is meant to develop organically when titles get trailers, gameplay reveals, and different background info, making followers anticipate its launch. We’ve seen gameplay and lore trailers for Elden Ring already, as its launch date isn’t that far sooner or later. Then again, we’ve seen virtually nothing for Starfieldmaking it tough to actually anticipate it past the thrill that comes from a widely known studio’s involvement.

A character in Starfield.

These types of fluff trailers and bulletins of bulletins dominated 2021. Whereas many studios promised to point out extra substantial content material in 2022, a style of what’s to come back wasn’t sufficient to satiate many avid gamers’ appetites. I acquired the sense that many had been making an attempt to easy over a gradual 2021 by speaking up future tasks. Whereas it’s enjoyable at first, it doesn’t take lengthy for the drip-feed of data to change into tiresome.

Going through delays

Video games with 2022 launch dates weren’t the one titles that made followers wait this yr. A slew of different video games had been delayed shortly after they acquired bulletins or trailers. Followers needed to wait two further months for Riders Republic. Ubisoft additionally pushed again a number of of its personal titles, together with Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the latter of which remains to be indefinitely delayed. Two of Activision Blizzard’s greatest upcoming video games, Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, had been delayed in an announcement on November 2, probably because of the firm’s harassment and work setting scandal. In response to rumors, gamers may not see Diablo 4 till 2023.

Whereas it might be straightforward to easily inform builders to repair their points in order that video games received’t must be delayed, it’s much more sophisticated than that. Sport growth is a fancy internet of interactions that depends on many disparate pipelines of content material and enterprise. If even one is affected, the entire sport is affected. When one thing like a pandemic comes alongside, growth can grind to a halt, forcing builders and publishers to disappoint followers with bulletins of delays.

Nonetheless, it’s controversial {that a} delay announcement is healthier than, say, radio silence. We nonetheless haven’t heard something about The Elder Scrolls VI since its seconds-long teaser shot at E3 in 2018. Particulars on Breath of the Wild 2 are equally scarce, regardless of the sport getting a giant trailer at this yr’s E3. We all know what it appears like, however a lot of the sport remains to be a thriller — together with its precise launch date.

Link runs across Hyrule in the sequel to Breath of the Wild.

Irrespective of which method you slice it, 2021 was a yr marked primarily by delays and long-term bulletins. A part of the enjoyable of a brand new sport is the anticipation that leads as much as its launch, however a few of these video games aren’t popping out for thus lengthy that the hype merely ebbs with time. Although I positively loved my share of newly launched video games this yr, I’m nonetheless extra excited for future releases than something. Gaming is an trade constructed on anticipation and pleasure, however with delays mounting and bulletins coming for video games farther and farther sooner or later, how lengthy will builders and publishers be capable to maintain on to that anticipation?

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