December 31st 2020. It’s 11:59 somewhere and instead of cries of “Happy New Year” its “thank fuck it’s over”. Given that we spent most of the year at home, lots of video games have been played and lots have happened in the world of video games. So, let’s look back at what has happened these last 12 months like it’s a shit remake of the Hangover.
Last of Us 2 leading the charge for GOTY nods
2020 had a plethora of great games. From smaller developers, we had the likes of Hades and Paradise Killer, and big AAA titles like Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing (a game that I never thought I would play, touch or even think about) Cyberpunk 2077 (more on that one later) and games like Among Us who had quite the resurgence since 2018. The game that did take the majority of the plaudits was The Last of Us Part 2. The list can go on from here but one thing is for certain there were some great games in 2020. Good thing we had all the time to play them this year?
There’s a new console generation?
Also, 2020 was the year where a new console generation was born in both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Both having their trump cards – Playstation with its exclusives which they aced in the previous generation, and Xbox’s Netflix style Game Pass. Both having their release dates in the latter end of the year. The main theme with both is that its loading times are the thing of the past, and 8k is the new thing. Unless you have the Eddies for an 8k TV as well.
Unfortunately getting a PS5 or an Xbox Series console today is as rare as Boris Johnson having a competent thought in his head. With bots and scalpers buying in bulk and reselling at 3 times the price, and stories of folks who through desperation and all they get is a picture of the console of their dreams and a 3 grand hole in their bank account. Both Sony and Microsoft are aiming to get more made and the Uk government themselves are looking into banning some of the practices that scalpers use.
Now one of the major moves of the year was Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda for $7.5 billion. Which was quite the surprise and coup, and will be bringing all of its IP to Game Pass. Which does give it an edge, but did raise questions. Like Deathloop, from the lads and lasses at Arkane Studios who have a timed exclusivity deal for the PS5 and will they keep to the deal? (which jacket enthusiast Phil Spencer confirmed). Will games like Elder scrolls 6, be an Xbox exclusive in some capacity? And will some old friends in John Carmack (the guy behind the original tech in the original Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein 3D) could make a return, given his Twitter? One thing is for certain. Given Xbox first-party games have been rather meh? Has now got a lot stronger in its position.
Have game conferences gone for good? Or revolution long overdue?
As you well know now since Covid-19, a lot of things have gotten cancelled and for once I’m not talking about Twitter. As gaming shows like EGX and E3 were cancelled. All the major players had to go digital to get their new in-development games on the hype train. Which from the last few years with the slow decline of E3 does seem like where the future is heading. Given more likely that the “Rona” will be around still 6 months into 2021, it may continue on that path, but in these uncertain times we live in we don’t know what the future holds.
We’ve been cyberpunked
Now, the one game which had all the grace of a 19th-century steam train with jizz cannons, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. Which was announced way back in 2012. It originally was due for release back in April 2020 but was delayed a further 3 times till December, and among the sensible headed ones, and not the arseholes spreading shite and death threats, we were happy to wait and understand. Looking back, the delays raised expectations for the worst. Once December 10th came around. My word. Had bugs and glitches like nothing else. It was more game crashing than George Michael ever could imagine. For the poor saps who had base Xbox One and PS4 versions. May I recommend whiskey? Help? or morphine tablets?
Which, the fallout caused CD Projekt Red to lose a billion in shares (or 29%) and with and given the Playstation consoles got the worse end of the tech problems. Resulted in Sony offering refunds, and lawsuits. It’s a shame that it will be remembered more for this because deep down it has bags of potential and is a good game.
While Covid dominated the news, during the early summer equality became a hot topic once more off the back of tragic assurances, and gaming also was under the limelight. Ubisoft had several claims of sexual misconduct with a few of the top brass removed, and Ubisoft dealt with the grace and decorum of a dumper truck. Also at the beginning of the year, UKIE and the University of Sheffield did a Census on the diversity of the Uk Games Industry towards the end of 2019 and released the results this year, and from the results that the industry is still dominated by white males. Gaming still has that image its for straight males when really it fucking isn’t. When women representation in gaming is considerably lower than the national average. Even lower than advertising. So, is gaming more sexist than Mad Men?
Social media is still a toxic shithole where loudmouth wankers can hurl abuse and general nastiness with seemingly no repercussions. Even people with epilepsy were left in the cold somewhat with Cyberpunk 2077 at launch not having a warning for it. Which one journalist at Game Informer had a seizure, and since then a warning has been patched in.
Some tentative steps are being made. Referring back to the Census within the industry LGBTQ+ representation is higher than the national average. Same with BAME which has a higher representation than the Film/TV Industry and Music. Even representation in video game characters has made a step with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Tell me Why, and Last of Us Part 2. It’s still a long road to go and yes some steps are being made but it’s going to take all of us to get there.
And finally, calm the fuck down you twats online
Some things remained the same in 2020. Take Cyberpunk 2077, which for many was the game that you were looking forward to. In 2020, it was delayed 3 times and while most level headed people were like “take the time, crew, make the game as good as it can be, we can wait a little longer”. Other folks weren’t so much. Hurling abuse at employees who were trying their utmost to make the game as good as it can be. Which isn’t on frankly. Then once released (aside from the well known technical issues) complain once more because the game doesn’t meet their own creative vision, and isn’t exactly what they wanted. To varying degrees, this can be applied to nearly every gaming IP out there.
What I’m trying to say here is that if there is one thing we should try to change, just be kinder and more constructive and understand that opinions/takes are individualistic. They aren’t always going to be similar all the time.
I am looking forward to the day where I review the latest Halo and get abuse hurled at me because I called Master Chief a “boring cunt”. Honestly, it’s nothing personal mate, I just find that he’s a very dull character. Or that I and Darren Box have differing views on Dirt: Showdown, and we haven’t hurled death threats at each other.
What I’m trying to say is be nicer to people, accept that not everyone within reason is going to like or dislike a game or a games console. And if you want to make your voices heard to developers just be constructive, they may or may not agree with you but they would take it under consideration in a more positive light. Food for thought in 2021 yeah?