At the end of each year, there is one article I always look forward to writing. I try to “sneak” into digital trends by predicting where gaming is headed in the coming year. It’s a fun thought experiment that tests my expertise as I try to pull together narratives and make sense of what the industry is creating. Sometimes I’m spot-on. Other times, I’m hilarious.
As I started thinking about this year’s edition, I decided to look back at what I wrote almost a year ago on New Year’s Day 2023. Some of my predictions were correct when it came to money, but others were more serious. I was expecting some major growth moments and instead there was a devastating layoff. Some of them were hard to see coming – especially in the bizarre case of Embracer Group. Still, my reflection on what I was expecting reminded me of how difficult industry games can be, even after winning historic titles. This year, I’m pulling back the curtain on this tumultuous 2023 to talk about what I got right and what I got wrong.
FTC changes the game
Prediction: The final outcome of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition will have a major impact on the industry, no matter how it turns out. If Microsoft were successful, I would have expected Sony to respond quickly with multiple acquisitions. If the deal is blocked, I thought it might end the current arms race between Sony and Microsoft.
what really happened: This was already a loose prediction, so it will be hard to tell if it will actually come to fruition in 2023. For now, I would say that the prediction has not yet been proven right or wrong; It is too early for that to happen. The FTC’s decision will undoubtedly have an impact on the industry, but it’s not the kind of thing we’ll see the full consequences of immediately. Microsoft only defeated the FTC in July, so Sony didn’t get much time to respond. It may be planning some purchases, but we don’t know yet.
This is one of those areas where unexpected circumstances may have hindered Sony’s plans. At least it can be said that this year has been strange for the company. Its PlayStation VR2 headset failed to attract mainstream attention, President Jim Ryan announced he was leaving the company, and Sony’s live-service plans have reportedly shifted behind the scenes (recent cancellation). the last of us online Looks like this supports those rumors). It’s possible that Sony just has a lot to offer and can’t make big investments to compete with Microsoft. We’ll have to wait until 2024 for more to be clear.
right or wrong? Nor… yet.
Unionization gets a boost
Prediction: After a successful unionization effort at Activision Blizzard in 2022, I predicted that unions would be paramount for the industry. I said that we will see more gaming unions emerging and this will continue to be a major discussion topic going forward.
what really happened: As expected, momentum continued in the case of unionization. Employees at companies like CD Projekt Red and ZeniMax Media gained union representation this year, making a significant push at some of the industry’s top companies. It’s clear that the union drive had an impact at Activision Blizzard, inspiring others to follow suit.
Don’t expect it to stop anytime soon. If anything, 2023 proved why these unions are necessary. It’s been a devastating year for the video game industry, as a wave of layoffs has left thousands of developers unemployed. Even big companies like Bungie and Naughty Dog were a part of this, showing that no amount of notoriety or success can protect an employee’s job. This trend will surely cause a fierce storm that will topple unionization for sports workers in 2024 and beyond.
right or wrong? Correct.
The next generation eventually becomes the next generation
Prediction: It feels like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S generations still don’t launch until late 2022. Most major games were still releasing cross-platform and as a result were not taking full advantage of the new hardware. I predicted we’d see a number of major releases abandoning older systems this year, making it feel like the true start of a new console generation.
what really happened: This was the most accurate prediction of all, even if it was a little easier to spot at the end of 2022. Both Sony and Microsoft began launching their new releases as new system exclusives instead of supporting the PS4 and Xbox One. The games were more impressive as a result. marvel’s spider man 2 This is a technical feat that could only have been possible on PS5 as of last year god of war ragnarok, which still featured the PS4 game’s identity in spots. xbox got both forza motorsport And Starfield, two games that pioneered the Series All of these games felt like launch titles we never got in 2020.
Now that the seal has been broken, expect the PS4 and Xbox One to be due out in 2024. We are already seeing third-party developers increasingly abandoning the system, which signals the end. games like resident Evil 4 And dead Space are only available on new consoles, which shows that major studios are willing to cut off a larger player base in the name of bigger games. We’ll still see indies and smaller releases on a variety of platforms, but if you want to play next year’s biggest games, you’ll need a new system.
right or wrong? Correct.
Embracer Group takes over
Prediction: After spending 2022 buying up the rights to major studios and even The Lord of the Rings, I predicted the growing Embracer Group would become a top name in gaming in 2023. Tencent has become a corporate megapower, rolling out a series of notable releases.
what really happened: Well, it didn’t go according to plan, did it?
Well, look, it was hard to watch Embracer Group’s fortunes deteriorate. How did anyone know that its success would depend on a $2 billion deal with Savvy Games Group, a powerful company backed by the Saudi Arabian government? And who knew that Savvy Games Group would unexpectedly back out of that deal, leaving Embracer disappointed? Even if you doubt the company’s absurd buying spree in 2022, this was a case of a freak business accident.
And boy did it mess up. The fallout from Embracer’s failure has been the most devastating event in the video game industry this year. This will lead to mass layoffs at many Embracer studios and even the closure of some entirely. Free Radicals, which was working on a TimeSplitters reboot, is now completely gone. Developer Volition also suffered the same fate after its massive downfall Saints Row reboot. The self-detonation would certainly permanently damage Embracer’s reputation, though don’t expect the group to completely collapse. It still has a ton of studios and it looks like it’s made its ambitious plans a little more realistic. This will help it stay afloat, even if it will probably never be on the same level as Sony or Microsoft.
right or wrong? Very, very wrong.