Summer is coming to an end and the great video game factory is restarting its engines. What vintage will be waiting for us at the end of this hot August?
The first good news in the coming months: the great return of ultra-big-budget video games who, after two years on the sidelines, are finally getting ready to set fire to the sales charts. The pandemic has left its mark, but by now everyone has learned to work within this new normal and, Covid or not, software makers should no longer be subjected to the forced reorganizations of recent years in the fall. Finally, remove the constraint that keeps the gaming industry in a sort of stasis, slowing down and disrupting its production cycles. Many of these games will sell in the millions, but each in its own way will also, if not primarily, be a test of sorts for the entire market.
From a certain point of view, we have returned to the years before the arrival of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, when the entire supply chain was questioned or rather put to death by those who saw smartphones as the only possible future. . Recall that the great and well-deserved success of the PlayStation 4 was necessary in order to give the sector of specialized consoles a new impetus. Today, doubts are more focused not on dedicated hardware, as happened in 2012, but on the software that should justify the purchase, in short, these giant triple A’s on feet of clay. And let’s be clear, the doubts no longer concern dedicated hardware just because its fate is already predetermined, but we’ll talk about that later.
Is there a place for us?
The so-called Triple A’s have to prove that they still have an important creative role to play, or they’ll soon have to change the format to survive. We’ve been repeating this for some time now, the difference is that after the big slowdown in new release releases, many gamers have learned to live their passions without them, discovering a world of products that, minus the production values, offer much more interesting and fun, often related to cinema graphic artists. Major publisher games are now terribly similar to each other, but the cost of their production remains very high; on the other hand, we can find projects like Stardew Valley, which reached twenty million copies sold this year, or more recently, Diablo Immortal, which is capable of collecting one million dollars a day.
Flavors in Extension
Hot autumn of video games: strategies and simulations are increasingly loved even by those who did not expect it. What platform is Two Point Campus selling the most on? Nintendo Switch!
The public is also rediscovering strategic and managerial, in addition to all those genres that the giants of electronic entertainment have abandoned because they were said not to be very profitable and that they are now returning to the fore precisely because of this desire for new experiences, or at least different from a conventional third-person action game with light role-playing components. The appetizer has officially ended with Stray: welcome (or should I say welcome back?) to an era where indie games go head to head with big guns.
In a similar context, smaller, bolder and more agile publishers are growing and flourishing, most notably Devolver Digital and Annapurna. For some, this is not a big novelty, but the context in this case is the general public, not the always informed enthusiast.
Pandemics and wars
Let’s return now to the consoles, and also touch on what was said a few paragraphs above. In this context, the situation remains clearly unstable, given that the shortage of chip production, which seemed to be improving, now adds to the potential threat posed by instability between China and Taiwan. It’s now news that Apple has shifted a significant portion of its production facilities to Vietnam precisely to anticipate potential problems in the future. In short too This winter, it will be quite difficult to get in and out of the store quickly with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. in hand. And this is a problem that also applies to Nintendo: The Switch is getting old, the winning concept and target audience still keep it afloat, but sooner or later Nintendo will have to open a new chapter in its history with a new and more modern console. But in Kyoto, rest assured, they’re not going to run into the same supply issues as Sony and Microsoft, not least because they might not make it out alive.
1:1 scale console
Hot autumn of video games: remember when you needed a console to watch Netflix, but today a TV is enough? We will see the same thing happen with video games.
Nintendo’s business is its consoles in tandem with their one-of-a-kind products, Sony, and even more so Microsoft, can look forward to asset diversification that allows them to bear losses and face unexpected events more safely. In addition, returning also to what we mentioned only a few paragraphs above, the fate of specialized equipment is now sealed. The experience that the console offers will soon be perfectly or almost reproduced in the cloud, streamed, and will also provide versatility unimaginable before. If it’s hard for you to get a feel for how much the gaming world has changed in the last three years, take a look at what has happened in just the last three hundred and sixty-five days. First of all, two developments: Samsung launches its TV application dedicated to games, compatible with almost all cloud systems and all tablets, and Sony introduced its “Game Pass”, which is being promoted more and more on PC. Today you can play Spider-Man on a steam deck, tomorrow you can play Starfield on your TV without needing anything but a controller: could you imagine that last summer?
The future is already here
Hot autumn of video games: pandemic has accelerated the spread of digital games, lack of equipment is accelerating the process that will take us to the cloud
Here, what will happen in the coming months is a slow but inexorable normalization of these events and services, which are still considered by fans today as exceptional stories, or features that can be used as a whim only for a quick check, oddities for those who do not can afford a real station or play a hit from day one. But then, only for a moment, the exception becomes the rule: it always happens when comfort wins, or when an extraordinary event occurs that accelerates the transition between past and future. With a good connection, which not everyone has, but less and less, you can get Forza Horizon 5 up and running in the blink of an eye while saving over a hundred gigabytes of hard drive space. It won’t be in 4K, at least not yet, but it doesn’t say anywhere that it can’t be compromised for a couple of games, or for a specific game. There are people who play The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch, let’s never forget that, and sometimes it’s just the same purist who’s already played it on PlayStation 4… it’s compromising. Give users the ease of use of Netflix, the same distribution, and be sure they will use whatever service you offer them.
Hot autumn of video games: Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, each in their own way, are experiencing a rather delicate moment in their history of video games
For the three sisters, the year of video games that is about to begin doesn’t sound bad: they certainly won’t be fighting to fill calendar boxes between heavyweights, remakes, remasters and side projects. Behind the scenes, the situation is much more confusing than it seems. As already mentioned, Nintendo found itself in a rather delicate moment: having to upgrade its hardware in a not entirely favorable context. Sony will have to keep doing what it did last year: bridging the service gap with the competition, and it’s not easy when you’re faced with such a big delay and forced to act quickly. Furthermore, it will be the winter of the new PlayStation virtual reality, a success far from heralded and facing various and complex challenges to finally convince its potential audience. Microsoft instead needs to prove once and for all that it can manage its struggling development teams and enter that phantom mode that promises miracles on an ongoing basis. In addition, Microsoft is facing the closing of a deal with Activision, which is currently in a phase that some observers even called critical. In short, there is no shortage of headaches.
GPU for everyone!
GPU fall is finally here! And that’s good news, because the more consoles turn into services, the more PCs will become the indispensable gaming machine; the only one that, with the transition to the cloud, would lose many of its foundational and fundamental aspects, such as, for example, the development and use of mods.
The world of video games moves fast, it moves even when it seems to be stationary, which is why it is so fun to watch and comment on. No matter what happens, it will always be fun to stand behind this great circus, even if today he seems to have stopped believing in himself. It’s true that the video game industry is now a shadow of what it has become, but there are thousands of people hunched over keyboards right now inventing the games of tomorrow. And as long as they are, we will be there.
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