Summer is coming to an end and the great video game factory is restarting its engines. What vintage will be the one that awaits us at the end of this hot August?
The first good news coming in the next few months is the great comeback of ultra-high-budget video games that, after two years on the sidelines, are finally preparing to set fire to the sales charts. The pandemic has left its mark, but by now everyone has learned to work in this new normal and, Covid or not, in the autumn the software houses should no longer suffer the forced reorganizations of recent years. Finally skip that cap that has kept the gaming industry in a sort of stasis, slowing down and troubling its production cycles. Many of these games will sell millions of copies, but each and every one in its own way will also, if not above all, a kind of test for the entire market.
From a certain point of view, we have returned to the years that anticipated the arrival of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, when the entire supply chain was questioned, or rather given up for dead, by those who saw smartphones as the only possible future. . Recall that the great and deserved success of PlayStation 4 was essential to give the sector of dedicated consoles a new impetus. Today doubts no longer focus on dedicated hardware, as happened in 2012, but on the software that should justify the purchase, in short, precisely on these gargantuan Triple A with feet of clay. And let’s be clear, the doubts no longer focus on dedicated hardware only because their destiny is already written, but we will talk more about it later.
Is there a place for us?
The so-called Triple A must prove that they still have an important creative role, or they will soon be forced to change format to survive. We have been repeating this for some time, the difference is that after the great slowdown in new releases, many gamers have learned to live their passion even without them, discovering a world of products that, net of production values, offer much more interesting and funny ones often linked to cinema graphic artists. The games of the big publishers are now terribly similar to each other, but their production cost remains very high; on the other hand we can find projects such as Stardew Valley which this year reached twenty million copies sold, or the very recent Diablo Immortal capable of grossing one million dollars a day.
Tastes in expansion
The public is also rediscovering strategic and managerial, in addition to all those genres abandoned by the giants of electronic entertainment because it was said that they were not very profitable and that now return to the fore precisely because of this desire for new experiences, or at least different from the usual third-person action with light role-playing components. The appetizer has officially closed with Stray: welcome (or should we say welcome back?) In the age when independent games are beating head to head with the big guns.
In a similar context, smaller, courageous and agile publishers grow and thrive, primarily Devolver Digital and Annapurna. For some it is not a great novelty, but the context in this case is the general public and not the always informed enthusiast.
Pandemics and wars
Let’s return now to the consoles, also taking up what was anticipated a few paragraphs above. In this context, the situation remains decidedly unstable given that a deficit in the number of chips produced, which seemed to be improving anyway, now adds the potential threat given by the instability between China and Taiwan. Right now is the news that Apple has moved a considerable number of its production force to Vietnam, precisely to anticipate possible problems in the future. In short, also This winter it will be pretty hard to walk into a store and get out of it in no time with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X in hands. And this is a problem that also involves Nintendo: Switch is aging, the winning concept and the target audience still keep it afloat, but Nintendo will sooner or later have to open a new chapter in its history and with a new and more modern console. But in Kyoto, rest assured, they have no intention of going through the same supply problems as Sony and Microsoft, also because they might not get out alive.
1: 1 scale console
Nintendo’s business is its consoles in tandem with their inimitable products, Sony and even more Microsoft can count on a diversification of assets that allows them to suffer losses and face unexpected events more safely. Furthermore, returning also to what we had only mentioned a few paragraphs above, the fate of dedicated hardware is now sealed. The experience that a console offers will soon be perfectly or almost replicable in the cloud, in streaming, also granting a versatility unimaginable before. If you are having a hard time feeling how much the gaming world has changed in the last three years, take a look at what has only happened in the last three hundred and sixty-five days. Two events above all: Samsung launching its TV app dedicated to gaming compatible with almost all cloud systems and all tablets, and Sony debuted its “Game Pass” pushing more and more on the PC. Today it is possible to play Spiderman on a Steam Deck, tomorrow you can play Starfield on a TV without needing anything other than a controller: would you have even imagined it last summer?
The future is already here
Here, what will happen in the coming months is a slow, but inexorable normalization of these events and services, which today are still seen by fans as exceptional stories, or functions to be used as a whim only for a quick test, oddities for those who cannot afford. a real station or to play the hit from day one. But then it is only a moment that the exception becomes the rule: it always happens when comfort takes over, or there is an extraordinary event that speeds up the passage between the past and the future. With a good connection, which not everyone has but fewer and fewer, you can get Forza Horizon 5 up and running in the blink of an eye while saving over a hundred gigs of hard drive. It won’t be in 4K, at least not yet, but it’s nowhere written that you can’t compromise for a couple of games, or for a particular game. There are people who play The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch, let’s never forget it, and sometimes it’s just the same purist who has already finished it on PlayStation 4 … that’s compromising. Give users the ease of use of Netflix, the same spread, and rest assured they will use any service you offer them.
The three sisters
For the three sisters, the videogame year that is about to begin does not seem bad: they will certainly not struggle to fill the boxes of the calendar between heavyweights, remakes, remastered and side projects. It is behind the scenes that the situation turns out to be much more tangled than appearances. As already mentioned, Nintendo finds itself in a rather delicate moment: with the need to renew its hardware in a context that is not exactly favorable. Sony will have to continue doing what it did last year: bridging the service gap with the competition, and it’s not easy when you run up to so much delay and are forced to move fast. Furthermore, this will be the winter of the new PlayStation virtual reality, a success far from announced and which has before it various and demanding challenges, to definitively convince its potential audience. Microsoft must instead prove once and for all that it knows how to manage its development teams, which are struggling and not a little to enter that phantom regime that promises miracles on a continuous basis. In addition, Microsoft is facing the closure of the Activision deal, at the moment in a phase that some observers have called even critical. In short, there is no shortage of headaches.
GPU for everyone!
This will finally be the autumn of GPUs! And it’s good news because the more consoles turn into services, the more the PC will confirm to be an irreplaceable gaming machine; the only one that from the transition to the cloud would lose many of its founding and fundamental aspects, such as the development and use of mods for example.
The world of video games goes fast, it moves even when it seems stationary, which is why it is so fun to observe and comment on. Whatever happens, it will always be fun to be behind this great circus, even if today he seems to have stopped believing in himself. It is true that the video game industry is now a shadow of what it had become, but there are thousands of people who right now, hunched over the keyboard, are inventing the games of tomorrow. And as long as they are there, we will be there.
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