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Big Changes, A Look At 2023 in Video Games

As the year 2023 slowly draws to a close over the next few months, it is important to take stock and see what changes this year had for the landscape of gaming. It might not seem like it from quick reflection, but in truth, this year marked some big changes that will hold major implications going forward. Below, we will be taking a look at some of the biggest releases and news/events that took place for gaming in the 2023, and where they could lead in the future.

Staff, K. (2023, September 8). The best games of 2023 (so far) [updated]. https://kotaku.com/best-video-games-2023-ps5-xbox-series-switch-pc-gaming-1850124419


Releases:


2023 has easily been one of the biggest years in gaming since 2020, when the industry saw a significant rise due to COVID-19. This is in no small part due to some of the blockbuster hits that were released into the hands of gamers this year. In fact, 2023 had the best reviewed slate of video games in the last 20 years! Over 25 releases garnered a 90 or more on Metacritic, an aggregate review site from reviews all around the internet. Here are some of the bigger releases that came out in 2023:


Baldur's Gate 3:

Baldur’s Gate 3. GOG.com. (n.d.). https://www.gog.com/game/baldurs_gate_iii


Baldur's Gate 3 is in the running as one the biggest video game releases this year. The game took the world by storm when it released on August 3rd 2023, however, it was in early access since October 6th 2020. This gave Larian Studios time to iron out bugs and listen to player feedback. It is truly impressive to see that, despite being out for 3 months, it reached 47th on the best rated games on Steam. Especially since the list is largely dominated by games that have been out for more than 5 years. It has also remained in the top 10 most played games on Steam since it was officially released. Whether you are interested in RPGs, or not, Baldur's Gate 3 is worth adding to your holiday list this year.


Starfield:

Starfield. Steam. (n.d.). https://store.steampowered.com/app/1716740/Starfield/


While not as critically acclaimed as Baldur's Gate 3, it would be a disservice to not mention Bethesda Game Studios newest RPG: Starfield. Before it's announcement in 2018, it was rumored for years that Starfield was in development as Bethesda's next flagship title. Already having tackled fantasy and post-apocalyptic settings, space was simply a new frontier for Bethesda to take its games to. After it was announced, Starfield would suffer two major delays, as well as being completely exclusive to Xbox and PC , before finally landing on September 6th, 2023. The game received mixed to mostly positive reviews from critics and fans alike. While the simple release of Starfield is not spectacular to the gaming world at large, the Xbox exclusivity is an interesting path, a fact that will be touched on further below.


Resident Evil 4 (Remake):


Brosdahl, P. (2023, February 18). Resident evil 4 (remake) PC requirements revealed. The FPS Review. https://www.thefpsreview.com/2023/02/18/resident-evil-4-remake-pc-requirements-revealed/


The newest game in the Resident Evil series is a reimagining of the original "Resident Evil 4," which was first released by Capcom in 2005. The original game was widely acclaimed for its innovative gameplay, which expertly blended action and horror elements, and for its role in shaping the third-person shooter genre. The remake honored the essence of the original while updating it with modern graphics, refined gameplay mechanics, and expanded narrative elements. The developers at Capcom indicated that they wanted to bring the game's visual and audio experience up to par with contemporary standards while preserving the game's core experience that fans loved. Many fans and critics alike tend to agree with this assessment.





The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom:

Kain, E. (2023, May 15). “The legend of zelda: Tears of the kingdom” is the best-reviewed game of 2023. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2023/05/12/the-legend-of-zelda-tears-of-the-kingdom-is-the-best-reviewed-game-of-2023/?sh=2ee485c2684f


We may speculate whether Baldur's Gate 3 may be one of the biggest releases of the year, but The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom holds the number one spot by a large amount. Selling more than 10 million copies in its first three days of release, the sequel to 2017's critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was all but a shoe-in for success. The game was revealed in a teaser at E3 2019 with a full announcement at E3 2021, and, after suffering one delay, it was released May 12, 2023 to just as much, or maybe more critical acclaim than its predecessor. Fans and critics alike sang never ending praise for this game, leaving it as the biggest release of this year so far.



News/Events:


2023 was also not without its fair share of big news in the industry. Many big developers and companies announced deals and layoffs as well as some revealing some changes for the future.


Stadia is Closed after 3 short years:


Palumbo, A. (2019, April 15). IHS analyst: Google Stadia will need timed exclusives; studio or publisher acquisitions are highly likely, too. Wccftech. https://wccftech.com/analyst-google-stadia-need-exclusives-studio-acquisitions/


In September 2022, Google announced that their Stadia gaming platform would be discontinued on January 18th, 2023. It was only being released on November 19th, 2019. Stadia was Google's answer to other cloud gaming services like Sony's PlayStation Plus cloud streaming and Xbox's Cloud Gaming. While it first planned to have first-party as well as third-party games, this approach was quickly ended in February 2021 as it became a third-party platform only. The reason for its closure was cited as lack of traction and users. Fortunately, Stadia members were given full refunds on both hardware and software purchased. Unfortunately, Stadia employees and well as developers were unaware of Google's plans to shutdown until its public announcement, causing quite a bit of controversy.


Microsoft's purchase of Activison Blizzard was cleared, making Xbox a gaming juggernaut:


Tuttle, W. (2022, January 19). Welcoming the incredible teams and legendary franchises of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft gaming. Xbox Wire. https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2022/01/18/welcoming-activision-blizzard-to-microsoft-gaming/


While Microsoft had announced the purchase of Activison Blizzard in 2022, this action was held up in the legal process by the FTC in the US and by the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK under antitrust concerns as Xbox had purchased ZeniMax Media (Owners of Bethesda) in March 2021. While the FTC lawsuit ended on July 20th, 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK did not give approval until October 13th of this year, fully cementing the deal. Not only that, but as mentioned above, Starfield released this year fully exclusive on Xbox and PC, turning Xbox into a dangerous contender in the Video Game market space.


E3 2023 is cancelled, as well as 2024:


Valentine, R. (2022, January 6). E3 2022 cancels in-person event, while digital show remains uncertain. IGN. https://www.ign.com/articles/e3-2022-cancels-in-person-event-digital-show-uncertain


E3, standing for Electronic Entertainment Expo, was known prior to 2020 as the event for small and large developers to show off their upcoming games for the following years to come. The event was cancelled for the first time in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event came back in 2021 as a fully online affair but was cancelled again in 2022 for pandemic concerns. However, during the pandemic, many large companies, such as Xbox and PlayStation, began doing their own online showcases to display upcoming games and hardware. This, in combination with events like The Game Awards, made many larger companies pull out of E3 2023, causing the show to be cancelled once again. In September 2023, it was confirmed that there would not be an E3 2024 but that the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) was still in talks with partners for E3 2025, which will supposedly have a complete reinvention of the show itself.


A Look Ahead:


Looking ahead past 2023, the future of gaming is looking both bright and bleak at the same time. Many great releases came this year, causing video games to continue to grow in popularity, but it's also clear that some trends are starting to show. For example, it is getting more and more difficult for new innovators to enter the market due to the already established big names: Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, etc. They have solid fanbases and only growing bigger as time passes. The efforts of smaller studios to get into one or more of these is getting harder, without a publisher to help. Thankfully, there are several publishers that recognize this and are doubling their efforts to see indie games reach larger markets. However, other publishers are buying more independent studios in an attempt to create exclusives for their platform alone, as well as coordinate their own specific shows. While many of us thought that Platform Wars were a thing of the past, it's only getting clearer and clearer that there may be a resurgence, and the way of the future may lie in these exclusives alone.


Citations:

2023 has the best-reviewed slate of video games of the last 20 ... - axios. (n.d.). https://www.axios.com/2023/10/31/2023-best-reviewed-games


Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, October 25). Google Stadia. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Stadia


Wikimedia Foundation. (2023a, October 11). E3. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E3


Wikimedia Foundation. (2023c, October 31). 2023 in video games. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_in_video_games


Wikimedia Foundation. (2023b, October 14). FTC v. Microsoft. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTC_v._Microsoft


Henderson, T. (2023, September 25). What’s the best selling games this year? - best selling games 2023 so far. Insider Gaming. https://insider-gaming.com/whats-the-best-selling-games-this-year-best-selling-games-2023-so-far/#:~:text=1%20%E2%80%93%20Zelda:%20Tears%20of%20The,was%20delayed%20to%20May%202023.














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