The gaming world is looking altogether more bright than the real one as we usher in 2021, with fresh consoles on the market and developers beavering away to bring a slew of new titles for us all to escape into.
But what will be the big surprises? Will we see a resurrection of Ouya? Will Google give up on Stadia? Will Sega suddenly reveal a secret new console? Anything could happen (probably), so we set about coming up with some outlandish (and relatively land-ish) predictions for the New Year. Let us know yours in the comments, then come back in 2022 and see how everyone fared.
Real reality is a bit rubbish, so more VR would be most welcome.
James | Game Pass gobbles up more publishers
While it would be obvious to say we’ll see more Bethesda games on Xbox Game Pass this year, the real get will be when other publishers start jumping on the bandwagon.
We’ve already seen EA join up EA Play with the service, and if they see a huge boost in player numbers for their back catalogue, it won’t be long before the likes of Ubisoft in particular are knocking at the door.
Imagine having the chance to revisit all those Assassin’s Creed games, some of them even enhanced for Series X|S for good measure. If they’re feeling particularly ambitious they could even make them available on the cloud, giving the fledgling xCloud service some more third-party titles to flex its muscles with.
Game Pass is already a powerhouse of content, and no doubt Microsoft’s first party studios will put out titles this year, but tying in with other sources could push it over the top, considering it’s already firmly in no-brainer territory for Xbox owners.
For PlayStation, I could see their PlayStation Plus Collection, a smattering of PS4 titles bundled together for PS5 owners, being a springboard for turning PlayStation Plus into primarily serving as Sony’s own take on Game Pass. That’s when competition really starts forcing both console-makers to develop the services to keep drawing in new players, which is only good news.
Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the highlights of the EA Play/Xbox Game Pass merger.
Sam | Slim pickings
Although many hoped that 2021 would be a fresh new start, so far, it’s been more of the same. As a result, developers will most likely continue to work from home and production schedules will be impacted.
2020 saw high-profile games like Marvel’s Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077 pushed out to capitalise on a captive audience. What seemed like a sound business strategy on paper in fact saw them crash and burn, all while the likes of Fall Guys and Among Us dominated the scene.
More recently, titles like Rust and Escape from Tarkov are enjoying explosive growth. With gamers evidently content to transition away from conventional AAA releases, developers and publishers need to be very careful in 2021. More games following in the footsteps of Halo Infinite and issuing lengthy delays could help to win back the audience, when the time is right.
If life does eventually get back to normal this year, I also can’t see anyone rushing to launch their game soon thereafter. After being locked down with little to do but play video games for months on end, people are sure to seek out other pastimes for at least a little while.
We'll wake you when we need you, Chief (which will probably be sometime next winter).