Needless to say, 2020 saw a massive change in the way we, as fans, interacted with games. The coronavirus really upended a lot of our annual traditions, from big game events, to expected game releases, and so much more.
While the calendar has since changed to 2021, for now, much remains the same. While we seem to be progressing to better days, I couldn’t help but wonder how 2021 may look in for the video game industry. Will we see a return to normalcy? Will this new way of doing things become the standard going forward? Will scalpers continue to mess up our lives?
Here are a few of my thoughts on how 2021 may go.
Digital or In Person Events?
With the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world in 2020, studios were forced to adjust, sending their staff home to work. Major industry events like E3 were also forever changed with many opting to go to a digital route while some companies like Nintendo opting to hold periodic updates on many of its upcoming titles.
I’ll be honest here, I think the shift away from massive events may be forever changed. I feel like being untethered from specific dates really benefited some companies who were then able to take control of their announcements and reveals rather than pushing teams to get content ready for an E3 in June. That sort of control was probably appreciated, so going back to the old way may be a bit tougher to swallow.
With that said, unless the world sees a drastic change in how the pandemic is going, in-person events will likely be off the table again, at least in the first part of the year. I’d personally be shocked if E3 cancelled again, especially after taking a year to see how other events like Tokyo Game Show and Gamescom were able to pivot to all digital events. There’s a path forward for sure, so I can’t see E3 not attempting to do something similar. Missing a second straight year would be disasterous for the company.
Nintendo will likely stick to their policy of periodic Nintendo Direct updates, though hopefully they focus a bit more on first party content this year. They were seriously lacking in that department in 2020. as for everyone else, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more digital updates from the likes of Microsoft, Sony, and Ubisoft, though I’m sure there are plenty of companies trying to wait to see how the world changes before making any concrete plans. If things improve, who knows, perhaps in-person events will start to make a comeback. Companies would obviously love to show off in front of actual fans and hear the applause rather than attempt to coordinate a digital showcase for a huge number of viewers.
While many of the games that launched last year were deep into development prior to the pandemic, I think we’ll be seeing more delays for upcoming games this year as many of these games may have been SIGNIFICANTLY impacted due to not being as far into the process as those of 2020.
It’s still early in the year so anything could happen, but with teams still working remotely probably for most of this year, I feel like there’s going to be a lot of movement with announced games or perhaps even when games are announced. Granted at that point, we’d likely be unaware, but I can’t help but feel like some games were likely intended to be announced earlier than they’re actually going to be. Does that mean there will be less game releases this year? While I still thing we’re going to see plenty of big name games, perhaps the amount will be a little less than we would have had in a normal year.
I mean, we’ve already seen a few big games get pushed like Hogwarts Legacy, Pragmata, and even that Lord of the Rings game that focuses on Gollum. Some other games got small delays like Outriders, Returnal, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see plenty more movement in 2021 or at least companies being unwilling to put a hard date on anything until it is nailed down. Don’t get too comfortable folks!
Scalpers, No Scalping!
The scourge of the internet, bots and scalpers, have been a massive headache for us normal folks. With all this new hardware launching at the tail end of 2020, it’s been stupidly hard to grab anything.
Honestly, I don’t see an end to any of this unless the stores step up their websites and make it hard for bots to do their thing. That takes time and money, two things that business may not see as valuable, especially since they’re still selling these things, just not to normal people. It sucks, but that’s how it is. The best thing to do is stay patient and not pay the exorbitant prices these hardware are then put up for by scalpers.
Until the pandemic starts to fade, I don’t see stores putting Xbox Series X/S and PS5 consoles on the store shelves. It’s sad but true. For now, the internet will have to do, for better or worse. Good luck to those of you still trying to get a new piece of hardware because until website security improves, you’re going to be at the mercy of the bots.
Everything is so up in the air right now, it’s absolutely crazy. Hopefully things stabilize a bit as we get deeper into 2021 but for now, this is our new reality. It’s amazingly hard to predict what will happen.