Congratulations, we made it through the whole year and what a year it was. 2021 was the first full year of a new generation of consoles, with the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PS5 all available for purchase, at least theoretically. As a way of looking back, we’re going to go over the top stories in gaming over the past 12 months that helped define 2021 as a year ahead.
Even with the many high-profile delays due to the ongoing pandemic, there were plenty of great launches, some of which join the ranks of the best Xbox games available. Yet there have also been some big changes, things that are leaving a lasting impression on the gaming industry, for better or worse. Let’s dive into them.
6. Lucasfilm Games has been revived
January 2021 saw the revival of the Lucasfilm Games brand, eight years after Disney shut down LucasArts. The brand covering any games that use the Lucasfilm license in the future is ubiquitous. While Electronic Arts (EA) still holds the Star Wars exclusivity through 2023, new developers and publishers are already working on games that will launch after the exclusivity disappears.
Some of the upcoming titles include Ubisoft’s as-yet-untitled Star Wars game, Quantic Dreams’ Star Wars: Eclipse, a remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and a rumored sequel to Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. . Meanwhile, Wolfenstein developer MachineGames is working on an Indiana Jones game.
After years of canceled titles and missed opportunities in Star Wars games, with only a few strong exceptions, Lucasfilm Games underwent a major overhaul, as Disney insists that the Star Wars license be open to any pitch. Will happen.
5. The Rise of NFTs, Blockchain and Crypto Crap
Blockchain technology has been around for a few years, but it wasn’t until 2021 that it really, damagingly invaded gaming on a large scale. Publisher Ubisoft made the leap with Ubisoft Quartz, offering limited, serial number-engraved digital cosmetics in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. EA noted during a financial earnings call that it is exploring the use of blockchain, although nothing concrete yet. STALKER 2 had planned to auction the NFT before backtracking after fan criticism. Fable creator Peter Molyneux announced that his upcoming game Legacy will sell virtual plots of land as NFTs. And this is not the end of it.
Still there is some opposition. Steam has barred blockchain-technology games from its platform, while head of Xbox Phil Spencer told Axios that blockchain-based games feel “more exploitative than entertainment.”
For better or worse, this is just the beginning of the NFT and blockchain trend in video games, and we will certainly see more of it in 2022.
4. Google Shutdown Stadia Games and Entertainment
Less than two years after the launch of Stadia Games and Entertainment, Stadia’s first-party family, Google called for it to be shut down before a single new game was launched or even announced. While not the end of Stadia overall, it did signal the end of Google’s investment in original games, which significantly hindered its ability to grow.
Just weeks after the closure of Stadia Games & Entertainment, former head of Jade Raymond founded a new team called Heaven Studios, partnering with PlayStation to publish the team’s first game. Heaven Studios has also attracted a number of other ex-Stadia developers.
Meanwhile, most of the now-defunct Typhoon Games team – a team acquired by Google for Stadia Games and Entertainment – regrouped to open Raccoon Logic, while also reclaiming the rights to their game, Journey to the Savage Planet. Received.
Yet as Google shut down its first-party teams, another platform expanded dramatically.
3. Microsoft Finalizes Acquisition of ZeniMax
Source: Bethesda Softworks
While Microsoft announced its intention to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, in September 2020, it took a few months of regulatory review. In March 2021, the deal was finalized, and Bethesda Softworks joined Xbox Game Studios as part of the Xbox first-party group. The result is that outside of existing contractual obligations, Bethesda’s studios are now focusing on creating exclusive games for Xbox and PC, or more specifically “platforms where Game Pass exists.”
The upcoming titles Redfall and Starfield, an immersive shooter from Arkane Austin and a science-fiction role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios respectively, are the first wave of games from this acquisition. The two games are due in the summer of 2022 and on November 11, 2022, respectively.
Even before these titles appeared, the addition of Bethesda to the Xbox led to an immediate increase in the value of Xbox Game Pass, as well as adding to the borderline service of Bethesda Softworks’ back catalog. That means games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Doom Eternal are now part of subscriptions going forward, as will any new Bethesda Softworks game.
2. Epic Games vs. Apple Trial
Source: Epic Games
Epic Games met Apple in court, making good on the “free Fortnite” movement that began in 2020. With documents not being sealed and kept out of the public eye such as email conversations – the result of a trial being conducted remotely due to the ongoing pandemic – has actually revealed a real number of industry secrets and interesting news. went. testing.
There were a number of big revelations exposed in a casual way, such as how Epic Games offered to pay big bucks to get Sony titles on the Epic Games Store for PC, the finer details of marketing agreements, or who looped over which negotiations. was in The guts of an agile industry) spilled out, as companies worked without observation, suddenly their ideas were scrutinized in court, in the eyes of all.
For testing, most things went in Apple’s favor, with the exception of a ruling that Apple couldn’t stop developers from adding alternative payment methods. Naturally, both Epic Games and Apple continue to appeal.
In any other year, this would easily have been the biggest story of the year. and yet…
1. Activision Blizzard
Source: Carly Velosi / Windows Central
The biggest gaming story of 2021 broke out in July. It was announced that a lawsuit had been filed against Activision Blizzard, alleging that the company allowed rampant, systemic sexist practices and abusive behavior to flourish without punishment, among other issues. From there, the company’s response, which was seen as lackluster by workers at Activision Blizzard, saw enthusiasm rise with walkouts and calls for reform.
Things continued to escalate in the months following the lawsuit, with a new report accusing CEO Bobby Kotick of helping to reduce sexual harassment claims at the company. More than 20 employees have been fired, more have been disciplined, while others have resigned voluntarily, expressing a lack of confidence in the Activision Blizzard leadership, which as of this writing still stands behind Kotick. Huh.
More than 1,000 Activision Blizzard employees have called on Kotick to resign, as well as several publications, including Windows Central. Developers and outlets aren’t the only ones taking notice, with heads of PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo commenting on the situation.
Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan reportedly told employees he was “disappointed and clearly shocked.” Head of Xbox Phil Spencer noted that he was “distressed and deeply disturbed by the horrific events and actions,” and that Xbox was “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard.” Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser described the situation as “upsetting and disturbing”.
It is not yet clear what the next steps or events will be, but it is absolutely clear that this situation has not eased even remotely and will continue to unfold one way or another.
what lies ahead?
With these events now in the past, we are only starting to see the results and benefits unfold through 2021. Even as analysts expect more delays in the game in 2022, there is much to look forward to. New games will launch, companies will take bold steps and the gaming industry, a unique intersection of science and entertainment, will undoubtedly once again be full of the unexpected.