GameCentral looks back at video game trends in 2021 and how the pandemic will ensure that 2022 is not what anyone initially expected.
2020 has been a terrible year for just about everything except video games, and while this year has been a moderate improvement, all hopes for a return to normalcy were quickly dashed. If anything, things got worse for video games, as any title released in 2020 would have been nearly finished before the pandemic started and everything that came out this year had to depend a lot more on people working from home.
This led to 2021 becoming a game of two halves, with the first one being well above par in terms of the quality of the outputs, as depicted in our List of the 20 best games of 2021, and the second half filled with almost nothing but endless disappointment and trouble.
As we discussed in our roundup of the biggest gaming stories of the year, the fallout from Cyberpunk 2077’s disastrous launch appears to have had almost no effect on the game companies, which are still more than just that. happy to release broken and bug-filled games as long as they meet their deadlines. Rather than the reception of Cyberpunk 2077 putting them off, all he seems to have done is confirm their suspicions that they can get away with almost anything as long as it’s a game people care about.
This logic will be tested to its limit in 2022, as one of the emerging trends of 2021 was growing interest in NFTs and their exploitation as a way to charge even more for inane cosmetic DLCs. Except this time with the added bonus of serious environmental damage and black market trade.
NFTs are an absurdly terrible ideal, both in the context of video games and beyond, it almost feels like an act of cartoonish villainy to promote them, just like the fact that Ubisoft and EA were the first to do it. Because of course it was those two. Equally predictable was the revelation that as soon as it was made perfectly clear to Ubisoft that no one wanted what they were selling, they said they would continue regardless.
These are attitudes familiar to the video game industry and it’s sad to say that the biggest news of the year – on widespread discrimination and toxic working conditions at Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and others – was also , unfortunately, exactly what you would expect. The response to the various walkouts and lawsuits, by Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick, has been so bad it has only exacerbated the situation and the irony is that it is his actions in the face of the controversy that could finally lead to real change.
The gaming industry has long been home to toxic individuals, from those who make the games, to those who talk about them online, to ordinary fans. Some might argue that this is all you can expect from such a violent and competitive form of entertainment, but today games have evolved to be much more than that and so have people in and around them. industry must also change.
Even if you aren’t interested in moral arguments, the more diverse the people who make games are, the more likely it is that what they produce will be new and unusual. Not making video games a cliquey boy club benefits everyone, and as hesitant as the steps may be, this is the direction the industry is currently taking.
It’s hard to draw many other conclusions from 2021, for the simple fact that it’s not how anyone planned the year. If it hadn’t been for a pandemic, the games and hardware released over the past two years would have been drastically different. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any good games during Covid, but it does mean that whatever plan the plan editors are following right now is likely to be in the very short term, as they are tackle each new problem as it arises.
The main positive element of the ongoing pandemic is that it shows how video games can positively influence people’s lives. Video game usage increased during the lockdown and although it inevitably fell from that peak, it is now much more widely accepted that games are not just dumb entertainment, but a reason and a cause for it. that people socialize and explore concepts and experiences in a completely different way than any other medium.
2020 wasn’t a classic year for video games and neither was 2021, and it’s very likely 2022 won’t be either. That said, the current lineup for the year looks very encouraging, at least before it is ravaged by the inevitable delays as developers start to take more advantage of the new next-gen consoles and more and more people have the chance to own them.
The pandemic is not yet over but, with luck, we have weathered the worst. Which, hopefully, means everyone’s life will improve over the next 12 months. And if not … well, there are always video games to distract you and keep in touch with your friends and family.
MORE: Metro GameCentral Video Game Review of 2020 – Games Against the Pandemic
MORE: Metro GameCentral Video Game Review of 2019 – One Year Wait
MORE: Metro GameCentral Video Game Review of 2018 – The Year That Was
For more stories like this, check out our Games page.