It’s been a weird year for video games. We’re 19 months into a new console cycle, and support for the PS4 and Xbox One is finally waning as developers shift their focus to the PS5, Xbox Series X, and P.C. cloud gaming platforms. The pandemic has slowed or halted the development of a generation of games, and the biggest names are absorbing studios of all sizes in the room. The industry is in flux, and the rest of the year reflects this instability. Not many big games are coming out in the second half of 2022.
The video game space has delays, big promises, and more delays. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to look forward to — between indie and A.A. developers, cloud libraries, and Netflix mobile games of all companies, this transition period will still be jam-packed with things to play. The 2022 holiday calendar looks thinner than it did a few months ago. Still, the first half of the year was pretty busy with games like Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Gran Turismo 7, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
And those are just the well-funded releases with big, shiny ads – the year was also good for indie and A.A. titles such as Neon White, The Quarry, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, Sifu, Tunic, OlliOlli World, Salt, and Sacrifice already available. Summer is peppered with even more small but great-looking games, such as the cyberpunk cat simulator Stray, Sam Barlow’s Immortality, and the highly anticipated Cuphead DLC, all due out at the end of July.
Oddly enough, Netflix is also helping to fill in the gaps with another push toward mobile gaming, and the latest titles are a treat. Poppy, the new game from the creator of Downwell, is extremely addictive. Netflix also publishes the following titles from the studios behind Monument Valley and Alto’s Odyssey. They’re all free, with no ads or microtransactions, as long as you have an active Netflix subscription. Plus, medium-sized publishers like Devolver and Annapurna always have a steady stream of high-quality weird games. And, of course, there’s Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus Premium, NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, and even Google Stadia — cloud gaming services that bring hundreds of classic and new titles to virtually any device with a screen.
So yeah, plenty of new games are coming our way this year; it’s just that there won’t be many AAA blockbusters from Microsoft or Sony. Like it or not, these studios are setting the pace of the industry, and gaps in their release schedules can make it feel like development has stalled across the board. And at the moment, there are many AAA gaps. Making matters worse is that Microsoft and Sony have announced and halted several major projects over the past few years, leaving us all with something concrete to miss in each showcase.
The biggest Xbox exclusives yet to arrive this year are High on Life, As Dusk Falls, and Pentiment, three medium-sized games, two of which were announced verbatim this month. In late 2019 and 2020, Microsoft announced massive games, including Fable, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Everwild, Avoided, and Outer Worlds 2, and hasn’t said much about these projects since. In addition, many things are happening at Bethesda, the largest brand under the banner of Xbox Game Studios. Bethesda’s shiny new sci-fi RPG, Starfield, was delayed to 2022 earlier this year, along with Arkane’s online vampire shooter, Redfall. Meanwhile, Elder Scrolls 6 will be in development for at least another five years, and Fallout 5 may not be out until the next generation of consoles.
Sony is in a similar situation. More AAA exclusives are coming to the market this year’s second half than Microsoft, with Forspoken, God of War Ragnarok, and The Last of Us remake on the calendar. However, there are still many unknowns in the PlayStation lineup. Final Fantasy XVI was a highlight of the PS5 announcement stream in 2020, but before that, we just got a Summer 2023 release window. There is zero to little information about other games that Sony has been in the works for years, including Wolverine, the Knights of the Old Republic remake, and Spider-Man 2. A standalone multiplayer mode for The Last of Us is still MIA, and we’ve yet to get details on the “multiple game projects” that Naughty Dog is also working on.
Some big cross-platform games are coming out this holiday season, including Hogwarts Legacy and The Callisto Protocol, but the fanfare for these titles has been pretty muted. As for Nintendo, it’s playing by its rules, as always, and it’s got Splatoon 3 and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet on the list this year, plus whatever it’s announcing at its next Direct showcase. It has its issues, of course – Breath of the Wild 2 was pushed back to 2023, and then there’s Metroid Prime 4, announced in 2017, and…yeah.
This year’s sense of inadequacy in the industry results from the console makers announcing things too early, with too much fanfare, and too many impossible release windows. Of course, the pandemic didn’t help, but as it stands, these studios promised the world and then went silent on multiple massive franchises. The silence is particularly deafening as we enter an anemic six months of AAA releases. Thankfully, there are so many great indie games out there now and coming later in 2022, and between cloud, mobile, and P.C. services, there are more ways to play these titles than ever.
As Jonathan Blow would say, time is a construct anyway, and viewing life in terms of weeks, months, and years is a futile attempt to contain chaos logically. Long story short, there is much to look forward to in the video game universe. It might not all come this year – or the next or the next – but with more games to play on more platforms than ever before, we should all be enjoying ourselves. Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products Engadget recommends. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.