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2023 Looks Like It Will Be A Great Year For Video Games – Maybe We Should Hope It Isn’t

Back in December, I wrote that 2022 was going to be a banner year for video games. We had Breath of the Wild 2, we had Starfield, we had Redfall, we had Kill the Justice League, we had Kerbal Space Program 2, we had Homeworld 3, we had Replaced, and we had Stalker 2. Now all of those games belong to 2023. We still have Elden Ring ready and waiting to sweep the end of year awards, and interesting indies will always be around (Venba and Immortality feel like the two to watch from Tribeca), but the back end of what was meant to be a very meaty year now looks desiccated. Gotham Knights and Hogwarts Legacy now have to shoulder way more weight than Warner Bros. games are expected to, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet might not get the usual pass other Pokemon titles get, and God of War Ragnarok still has no launch date. Leaks point to September, but they also point to October. And November. December has been mentioned too. And the heffleteenth and Julember.

Trust me though, I have learned my lesson. I went way too early with 2022 and did not consider that most of the games I was talking about only had vague release windows. This time around, it's totally different. Everyone knows games are delayed once and then they release right on time and are practically perfect in every way. Also you should win things by watching! That's why I'm ready to declare, as we reach the halfway point of 2022, that 2023 is actually going to be a great year for video games.

We've had a couple of years in the wilderness, gamers. The pandemic and the launch of new consoles haven't helped matters, plus the general point that our current way of making games is unsustainable. Traditionally, development cycles have doubled in time and cost with each generation, and they were already too expensive and took far too long in the PS4/Xbox One era, so it feels like something's got to give. The nominees for GOTY at The Game Awards in 2020 were legendary. The Last of Us Part 2 offered technical brilliance, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ghost of Tsushima were major crowd pleasers, Hades is an all-timer for the indie scene, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake reinvented one of the greatest games ever with spectacular creativity. Oh and Doom Eternal was also there.

2018 and 2017 were also great years. Look, I had some fun in 2021. There were for sure some good games. But the six-strong GOTY nominee line-up (Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Resident Evil Village, Deathloop, Metroid Dread, Psychonauts 2, and eventual winner It Takes Two) just doesn't come close to 2020's. In 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, God of War, and Celeste went toe to toe. Right now, 2023 seems like it could bring that level of consistently high quality releases back. That's before we even get into titles likely to be revealed at Gamescom and TGA (or just, you know, in a regular Twitter post or whatever) which will help pad 2023 out.

Gaming is as profitable as it has ever been, more profitable even, but there has been a shift in profits driven from people buying games to people buying things in games. Naughty Dog, one of the best developers on the planet, seems to be spending all its time remaking a game we all said was perfect and building a live-service shooter in the same universe that was supposed to arrive in 2020, and now won't even be discussed until 2023.

If for nothing other than my own personal enjoyment, 2023 feels like a vital year for gaming. If most (ideally all) of the upcoming titles land in 2023, plus the others we haven't even heard about yet, then it will feel like the industry is back on track, back to making hits and delivering titles at a reasonable pace. If 2023 feels empty yet again, and if these titles and their peers decide to set sail for 2024 instead, maybe it will finally prompt us to look inward and stop the graphical space race and promises of hundreds of hours of gameplay with thousands of planets to visit. Maybe we can just make fun games that we play for a while and then they end and that's okay. If we keep trying to get bigger bigger bigger, better better better, it'll just lead to crunch crunch crunch and delay delay delay.

I hope 2023 is a great year for video games. But if it will help fix the mess we've found ourselves in, I wouldn't mind if it was a terrible year instead.

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