The war for the next generation of consoles has begun (Image: Metro).
GameCentral looks back on a year that many want to forget, but that will finally be a milestone in the history of video games.
Most of them are sensible enough not to brag about it, but as far as video game companies are concerned, 2020 was a very good year. Some of them have had their share of disasters, but the fact that so many people have remained who have nothing to do with the game has had a level of popular success that was previously unimaginable.
Despite the many delays, the games at production level are much less affected by the coronavirus than movies and television. So despite the fact that the release schedules were certainly more subtle than usual, some excellent video games were released in 2020. Not enough to be considered a classic year, but certainly better than many others.
Instead of the additive genes themselves, the launch of which is always quickly forgotten, the coronavirus itself will be the lasting legacy from 2020 onwards, even though its impact seems relatively small at this stage. This will lead to delays of several years, which means that over a longer period of time there will be fewer games than normal and quality control may be less reliable.
Cyberpunk 2077 was an extreme example, but not an isolated case, and testing proved to be one of the hardest things to do when most people work from home. In addition, all the major games released this year have been in development for years. So it remains to be seen how easy it is to start a project from scratch when everyone is working at home, rather than just trying to finish it.
However, companies have done things differently and Sony certainly deserves praise for the slow launch of PlayStation 5 in terms of hardware and software. Despite the delays, they have had one of the best starts in history and seem to be well on track for the future, with several major projects between now and 2021.
But from this year it is clear that Sony is playing the old game. PlayStation 4 was a big success, so they wanted to repeat that success with PlayStation 5, of course. It might work well for them a second time, but they will have to face the fact that Microsoft does not compete on an equal footing with them.
Microsoft’s attempts to position Xbox as a brand and not just as a console are already in full swing with xCloud and Game Pass, and Sony currently has nothing to compete with those two. Even if they inevitably develop their own late counterparts, Microsoft will have years of additional experience and brand recognition. They also have almost unlimited resources and after spending $7.5 billion on Bethesda, the first thing they said was that they were looking for other companies to buy.
It will take a long time, probably the best part of a generation, before their opening studios are well integrated, but those are only two time bombs from Sony’s point of view.
But keep in mind that despite these unlimited resources, Microsoft has absolutely blown the year 2020, especially from a marketing point of view. From the needlessly confusing Xbox X/S series titles to the failed public launches of Halo Infinite, their actions resemble those of an amateur compared to Sony’s much more subtle brand style.
Launching a new console without a single first game is the kind of failure that one expects from a company without a budget, not the largest company in the world. And despite all their money, they continue to buy only American and British developers, who don’t seem fit to change the reputation of Xbox, focusing only on the tastes of the American public and no one else.
Although Sony has clearly taken the lead in this new generation, it is certainly not unshakeable and the mistakes made by both companies only make it more difficult to predict their future success. Of course, they’re open books compared to Nintendo, but as far as the makers of this year’s Switch are concerned, there’s hardly anything to say, so they haven’t said or done much.
They could release a Switch Pro console in 2021. They may have some announcements to make in January, including the release dates for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 and Metroid Prime 4, or maybe they’ll let another six months go by without announcing anything more substantial than another Wii U port. With Nintendo, it’s always impossible to say.
It is equally unclear how a contest will be announced in 2021 and beyond. Previews virtually stopped in 2020, with only a handful of companies choosing to stream demos, which certainly exacerbated the situation with Cyberpunk 2077 – where it became much harder to hold companies to account or get previews of the game that were not pre-recorded end-to-end videos (although, again, Microsoft even managed to make a mess of it).
Read more: Games News
2021 is a year of uncertainty for everyone, and we are not just talking about video games. But if there is one lesson to be learned from 2020, it is that if there are things in today’s world that are much more important than video games, they can no longer be considered insignificant. The game and the virtual communication it promotes have become a lifeline for many in 2020, creating new fans and increasing the comfort of existing fans.
Whether the Xbox Series X outperforms the PlayStation 5 is of course not important outside the game, but if there is one thing that Coronavirus has proven, it is that video games matter. Not only as quality entertainment, but also as a social platform that can help you better understand the world… or just to avoid a few precious hours.
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