We might only be a few months into the year, but what people are going to be talking about for 2021 in the ever-growing world and culture of video games is coming into focus. This multi-billion dollar industry is already overtaking film as being the most profitable (and time-consuming) form of entertainment, so if you are interested in staying up to date on the next big thing, read on!
Easing Into Next-Gen
The end of 2020 gave gamers the start of the ninth generation of consoles, with Sony releasing the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft bringing us the X Bob Series X. While both of them had similar technical specifications, the Playstation had more exclusive games (Demon Souls, Spiderman, Bugsnax) at launch and consequently was sold out practically everywhere. Scalping online was rampant, so it is hoped that there will be increased production throughout 2021 to meet the demand (kind of like what happens with a good comment on Kensington escort reviews online).
While Xbox would have loved to get that sort of attention, the fact that it bought the massive game studio Bethesda Softworks means that there will be plenty of big-name games from big-name franchises (Elder Scrolls, Fall Out, Doom) coming down the pipeline that will only appear on Xbox consoles. In addition to this, you can play many older games on this console than on the Playstation, which only offers backwards compatibility to most PS4 games.
All of this means 2021 will be an exciting year for both systems as they dig in and try to appeal to fans as being the best console to own for the next several years.
Nintendo Goes Pro
But as both companies mentioned above have learned the hard way, never write off Nintendo. While their Switch console came out four years ago and is part of the eighth generation, it has been outselling the previous Sony and Microsoft consoles for most of that time. The company typically uses less expensive hardware so the console already is more affordable, but the real attraction is by releasing amazing exclusive, first-party games, and that includes recent entries to the Mario and Zelda series, each of which has sold over twenty million copies.
Then there’s the surprise hit of last year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which allows you to leisurely build an island in a cartoonish life simulator. Its coming out right at the beginning of the pandemic made it a huge deal.
This year there are very reliable rumours that Nintendo is going to ‘fix’ this hardware situation by releasing a technically upgraded Switch, which everyone in the industry has already dubbed the ‘Switch Pro’ (named after what Playstation typically does a few years after they release a console, putting out an improved version with the word ‘Pro’ added on). This would mean a better display and maybe a stronger CPU ‘under the hood’. Many third-party developers will be excited about this, as soon the more graphically-challenging games have looked a bit muddy on the original version of the Switch.
Cloud Gaming Keeps Trying
While Google Stadia has not yet become the success its owners were hoping for, the idea of playing a game where all the data is in hard drives on the other side of the country (instead of inside your console or computer) persists. Even ‘physical copy’ stalwarts like Nintendo are allowing for players to try out third party games like ‘Control’ by buying ‘access’ to a server instead of downloading the game itself. While this is completely dependent on having a very reliable internet connection at all times, it might be a glimpse of the future because it will not require a console at all to play video games.
New $500 consoles are great, but there’s little point in buying them if consumers don’t see any enticing gaming experiences coming with it. The big three companies can always rely on plenty of hardcore fans to buy these products up right at launch, but the real money comes from the sightly more casual player, and for them to fork over the money, they also want to see good games coming to the system.
In 2021, to hedge the bets that these consoles will pay off, game studios are promising a lot more of what worked so well in the past. For Microsoft and Xbox, their flagship series is Halo, a first-person sci-fi shooter that has been around for all of its twenty years. There was supposed to be a new title to be launched alongside the new system last year, but it was delayed, and now gamers and industry analysts are expecting a late 2021 launch, to give the Xbox Series X a true boost in the holiday season.
Sony is hoping that the Playstation 5 will have a better honeymoon period than their previous one, the Playstation 4, where some of its best games didn’t come out until the end of its lifecycle. So the company has already promised sequels to the blockbuster successes Horizon Zero Dawn and the re-imagined God of War series to come out this year. With no news yet, some critics are expecting only one of these titles to make it to stores in 2021, likely Horizon, because it has been in development a bit longer.
With Nintendo, Zelda fans are in a froth waiting to hear more news about the promised sequel to 2017’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. One of the most acclaimed games in recent memory, a follow-up was announced at E3 2019, but little has been said about it since. Developers have said that work is going smoothly, and many are hoping that holiday 2021 will be when this game drops. It would certainly help bring attention to the Switch Pro if it releases on that console as well in a graphically enhanced form.