After a year of all records, the video game industry will fully enter the new generation in 2021. Let’s see what we can have in store for this new year, which already promises to be particularly exciting.
In many ways, 2020 has been a historic year for the video game industry. We are obviously thinking of the periods of confinement which allowed record growth for the industry, but also of the expected launch of the new generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony, the Xbox Series X and S and the PS5, as well as the new generation of hardware. on PC with the Ryzen 5000, the Radeon RX 6000 and the GeForce RTX 3000. After such an important year, what can 2021 hold in store for us? The news promises once again to be hot in the field.
An industry in full consolidation
In recent years, the video game industry has started a phase of consolidation. The big players are buying a lot of studios, and it will not have taken very long in 2021 to see this trend confirmed since Nintendo announced a first takeover on January 5. This year, we also await the closing of the massive takeover of ZeniMax Media and its studios – including Bethesda and the Lyonnais d’Arkane – by Microsoft for the first half of the year. Once done, flagship licenses like Doom, Skyrim or Fallout will fall into the hands of Xbox and the giant will then have more than thirty development teams under its control.
But above all we must expect the announcement of new redemptions. Microsoft has been very clear on the subject, and wants to continue acquisitions to strengthen its production capacity, but it is not the only one. Sony announced in 2020 that it plans to expand its PlayStation Studios with new buyouts after that of Insomniac Games in 2019. Amazon and Google, or independent publishers like Activision Blizzard or EA, could also place themselves on buyouts. The latter for example announced the acquisition of Codemasters in the nose and beard of Take Two (GTA, Bioshock, NBA 2K, Red Dead Redemption) which had positioned itself on this acquisition.
Sony rolls out the carpet for the PS5 with many exclusives
After the highly anticipated and successful launch of the PS5 in 2020, Sony’s timeline is not going to calm down. First, the company must take care of successfully producing enough consoles to keep up with demand. According to the latest feedback from traders, and several industry players, it seems that the shortage could last until spring 2021 all the same. For those who have had the chance to get their hands on the famous console, Sony has already promised a lot of strong titles throughout the year.
If we stop at the games announced for the year 2021, we can notably mention Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, which should be one of the first real demonstrations of the console’s SSD prowess and slated for release for “the launch window”. That’s not all, PlayStation Studios will also offer Horizon Forbidden West, the second episode of the adventures of Aloy, Gran Turismo 7, and God Of War Ragnarok, of which we are still waiting to discover the first images. This last title could be postponed, but we can always be satisfied with promising games from Sony partners like Deathloop or Hit the Bridge of Spirit.
As it stands, Sony does not seem to be preparing the launch of a new platform or a major change in strategy, but rather to offer an excellent first year of life to the PS5 to maintain its record level of requests. We can still hope to hear from PlayStation Now, its cloud gaming service for the moment confined to games from previous generations.
After a record quiet year, Nintendo is preparing heavy
It’s hard to say that 2020 was not a landmark year for Nintendo. The exit d’Animal Crossing New Horizon Nintendo Switch was one of the phenomena of the year, and the console has been at the top of sales for many months. However, Nintendo also marked the spirits by its absence, in particular by not organizing any of its famous Nintendo Direct over the year. So, if the firm has released some titles like Paper Mario The Origami King, or Super Mario 3D All Stars, tried the concept Mario Kart Live : Home Circuit, above all she seemed to reserve her strength for her future.
According to the very serious Bloomberg site, this future should take the form of a new Nintendo Switch whose announcement and marketing would begin in 2021. It would be a more efficient model, capable of running Nintendo games Switch with a display definition up to 4K UHD. Also according to the site, Nintendo would have started to ask developers to adapt their games for this new model from September 2020. To accompany the launch of this new model, Nintendo could have reserved its best cartridges. We think in particular as a result of The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild which was unveiled in June 2019 and which we have not heard from since.
Microsoft is still betting more on its Xbox Game Pass
Like Sony, Microsoft must now ensure a good first year for its new Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. The firm must first work on producing more consoles to allow it to keep up with demand, which is weaker than the PS5 and but everything similarly stronger than the offer at the moment. But for Microsoft, the fight is not in the sale of consoles, but rather on the development of its Xbox Game Pass offer. The company has succeeded in putting its subscription at the center of debate in the industry, and it is today at the forefront of creating the true “Netflix of video games”. After convincing 15 million players to subscribe, Microsoft wants to further accelerate its strategy.
The service itself should continue to evolve this year. We are already talking about the idea of adding all or part of the Ubisoft catalog, but we are also thinking of the addition of that of EA Play on PC which has been postponed to 2021 without further details. But it is especially from this year that Microsoft should rely less and less on third-party developers to provide content for Xbox Game Pass, and more and more on its internal studios. As such, the firm would be wise to start talking about “Xbox Game Pass Originals” for these titles that are released on PC, console and in the cloud.
Xbox Game Pass can also be played from the cloud, today on Android and from the spring on iPhone and PC. This cloud gaming service is also expected to evolve to start offering Xbox Series X games. Until now, Microsoft has been using Xbox One S to power its cloud gaming servers, but there are rumors that Xbox One should start to be replaced. by Xbox Series X this year. We also hope that the service could land on other devices, and in particular televisions from Samsung, a big partner of Microsoft for several years.
The Xbox All Access offer, which allows you to pay for your console by subscription with the Game Pass, should be available at more merchants in France. We are also waiting to see if the Xbox Live Gold offer will evolve. As early as 2020, we explained why it would be time for Microsoft to remove this subscription.
Cloud gaming advances with Google and Amazon
After several years of projects and rumors, Amazon and Google have officially entered the video game industry with their cloud gaming services, Luna for one and Stadia for the other. With the successful launch of the Sony and Microsoft consoles, and the continued launch of the Nintendo Switch, the two tech giants still have everything to prove in what remains a new market for them. After a rough start, the release of big titles for the first time simultaneously on consoles and in the cloud, such as Cyberpunk 2077 has started building buy-in for its services that are available instantly, no download and from many devices.
Amazon Luna should logically extend its beta for the moment limited to only the United States and we hope for an early arrival in France. For its part, Google will have to continue signing partnerships while waiting for the preparation of the first titles developed by its own teams. The firm has promised 400 games to its catalog soon. We also expect the release of Stadia on Android TV, now Google TV, for this year. In principle, this could allow access to “console” games from any connected TV running the Google OS and thus avoid spending the 300 to 500 euros requested for a home console.
AMD and Nvidia are already preparing the sequel
As we said, the change of generation was also made on PC with the launch of new processors and graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia. The two manufacturers should decline their novelties for the world of portable PCs at the start of 2021. This will allow a new wave of portable PCs capable of running the latest games of the moment in good conditions.
On desktop PCs, we must expect to see new versions arrive to expand the ranges of the two designers of graphics chips. But the rest is already being prepared, and we are beginning to hear about the cards that will replace the RTX 3080 and other 3090 with more powerful versions, and consuming less. As for AMD, the future seems to take the form of a chiplet design that has been so successful in the field of processors. For Nvidia, the next architecture would be called Lovelace and already seems to promise a huge leap in power.
First of all, let’s hope that we can quickly find all the recent components in stock and at their advertised price.
A new generation of video games
This was already the common thread of this article, it is in 2021 that we will really discover the first games of the new generation. Those that have been designed to take advantage of the new capabilities of consoles and in particular their new storage architecture based on an SSD. On this point, Microsoft has announced that the DirectStorage API will arrive on Windows 10 in 2021 and should allow better use of computer SSDs. It is also this year that Epic Games has planned to launch its Unreal Engine 5 which will allow developers to create even more ambitious games.
Beyond that, we obviously hope above all to discover nice surprises, games that have not yet been announced or new pearls developed by indies. For the industry, it will also be necessary to rediscover places to meet for these announcements and these discoveries. Will Microsoft and Sony resume their shows broadcast online or will the year mark the return of conferences? 2020 took place without E3, but the show had officially promised to return in 2021. It remains to be seen under what conditions.