Home / News / Our 4 biggest predictions for what gaming will look like in 2024

Our 4 biggest predictions for what gaming will look like in 2024

127
Cloud and Aerith charging up an attack.

The ball has dropped and we’ve officially made it to a new year. Heading into 2024, the video game industry finds itself in an especially interesting position. We’re coming off a historic year for gaming that was filled with massive releases and devastating layoffs in equal part. Game companies are left balancing their cultural successes and their business failures right now. But how will those scales tip this year?

The short of it is that we’re heading into perhaps the most mysterious year for gaming in a very long time. We’re halfway through a console cycle, heavy hitters like Grand Theft Auto 6 aren’t coming until 2025, and a lot of companies are going to make due with significantly smaller staffs. There’s always a chance that the industry puts together another blockbuster year filled with unexpected surprises, but it’ll be pulling that out of thin air if that’s the case.

As I do every year around this time, I’ve taken a crack at predicting where gaming is headed in 2024. While last year’s edition included one huge miss, I was largely on the money when it came to grander predictions about the rise of unionization and this latest console gen kicking into second gear. This year is more of a challenge to predict, but there’s a fair bit we can glean even from a quiet schedule.

The big game cycle slows way down

Square Enix

It’s no secret that 2023 was a tremendous year when it came to big-budget video game releases. It was full of mainstream blockbusters like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The fact that Xbox’s Starfield ended the year as a B-game that didn’t even snag a Game of the Year nomination at The Game Awards speaks to what a jam-packed year it was.

Don’t expect that to continue in 2024. Last year was a bit of a special case. What we really saw was the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coming into play. While games that were already near the end of development when the pandemic started didn’t suffer too much, titles that still had a few years to go faced much longer setbacks. Part of the pileup we witnessed last year was the result of that, with delayed projects dropping into what would have been an otherwise standard release year. Things should go back to normal from here, though the effects of those early COVID years will still likely shuffle some timelines.

The main reason you should expect a slowdown, though, is due to layoffs. The gaming industry shed thousands of jobs last year, with entire studios getting shut down. Projects like the planned TimeSplitters revival and the Last of Us multiplayer game are dead, while Bungie has had to shift its timelines after cutting jobs. Like COVID, the effects of this might not be felt right away, but if you’re asking yourself “Where’s all the games?” in the next few years, ask the publishers who laid off the folks who make them.

Nintendo’s next console takes center stage

An image of the Nintendo Switch - OLED Model Mario Red Edition.
Nintendo

If you were looking at the current 2024 release schedule at face value, you’d probably assume Nintendo was due for a bum year. Currently, the publisher only has a handful of games coming — and they aren’t exactly heavy hitters. Aside from a new Princess Peach game, we’re mostly getting old games to round out the Switch’s twilight years. A remake of the niche Mario vs. Donkey Kong is coming alongside HD ports of games like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It doesn’t currently seem like we’ll get anything to compete with the likes of Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Of course, that’s only if we ignore the rumor mill. Chatter suggests that Nintendo is poised to drop its next system, which it reportedly showed to developers behind closed doors at Gamescom, in 2024. If that does come to fruition, expect the second half of the year to be all about Nintendo as Sony and Microsoft enter the less exciting midpoints of their console cycles. A new Nintendo system could mean some surprise holiday releases like Mario Kart 9 that dominate the news cycle.

There’s an even more interesting possibility here too: that it’s a total flop. Nintendo previously struggled to capitalize on the successful Wii with the Wii U. That system wound up confusing players who didn’t know if it was something new or a pricey add-on. Whatever the Switch 2 ends up being, it’ll need to feel like an entirely new device rather than an optional upgrade. The stakes are very high, but I expect that Nintendo will have learned from its mistakes and will deliver a buzzworthy follow-up.

PlayStation sinks, Xbox swims

Living room with Microsoft Xbox Series X (L) and Sony PlayStation 5 home video game consoles alongside a television and soundbar.
Future Publishing/Getty Images / Future Publishing

PlayStation and Xbox are in a much different position. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will celebrate their four-year anniversaries in November 2024, which means we’re nearing the halfway point of this console cycle. That’s a critical moment in any system’s life span. It’s the point where companies have burned through their most exciting launch window titles and need to keep players hooked with a consistent string of strong releases. Sony and Microsoft could face very different narratives this year.

For the former, the PS5 finds itself in an awkward spot. Last year’s Final Fantasy XVI and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 gave the system the big-budget hits it needed, but Sony’s release schedule for the next 12 months isn’t as compelling. All we really know is that we’re getting a Last of Us Part 2 rerelease this month, a more niche shooter in Helldivers 2, and the console exclusive Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Otherwise, the outlook is empty. A recent ransomware attack against Insomniac Games leaked that Marvel’s Wolverine (or any other Insomniac game) isn’t expected to arrive this year. Meanwhile, Sony has reportedly slowed its push into live service, which included the aforementioned cancellation of a Last of Us multiplayer game. A few surprises are sure to come out of the woodwork eventually, but this is the first year since the PS5 launched where players simply don’t have a clue what they’ll be playing for most of the year.

Xbox, on the other hand, is poised to push its 2023 momentum. Last year’s Xbox summer showcase revealed several titles, showing that Microsoft is ready to make up for lost time in the Series X’s inconsistent life span. We’re expected to get two major titles in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 and Avowed, while the long-delayed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl is still in the cards. With Bethesda and Activision Blizzard both under Microsoft’s wing now, we should start seeing more consistent first-party releases this year just as Sony’s own internal efforts are likely to hit a snag.

That’s not to mention that Xbox might have some new hardware on the way, judging by documents that accidentally leaked last year. That incident revealed the existence of a refreshed Xbox Series X model, as well as a new eco-friendly controller with improved haptics. Expect an inverted version of 2022, a year that saw Xbox walk away with no major releases while Sony packed in exclusives.

Summer Game Fest takes E3’s throne

A purple E3 logo floats in the air.
ESA

While the business side of the industry suffered a lot of losses this year, December brought one surprise casualty. Just last month, the Electronic Software Association (ESA) formally announced that it was retiring E3. The trade expo, which has was once seen as gaming’s Super Bowl, had struggled to remain relevant over the years amid a rise in digital showcases, but the COVID-19 pandemic would prove to be the nail in the coffin for the show. It’s both an inevitable ending and a somber loss for those who grew up revering the show and what it meant as a world-uniting watercooler event.

With E3 officially dead, there’s a power vacuum that needs to be filled. Developers still need places to show their games, as well as in-person events where they can try to strike deals with publishers. The only alternative we’ve had up to this point is Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest. The event, which started as a series of live streams, has expanded over the years into an intimate, two-day press event in Los Angeles. This year’s show scaled up the affair, but it was still a fairly low-key show compared to the E3 galas of yesteryear.

Expect that to change in 2024. E3’s demise offers a critical moment for Keighley to push his momentum with the show and turn it into a full replacement. While you shouldn’t expect this year’s edition to fill a full convention center, I predict a much larger show that stretches beyond its current press-only setup. More days, a bigger venue, and a public component are likely all on the table as Keighley looks to grow a successful proof of concept. If nothing else, it might be the year that your local newscaster will read the words “Summer Game Fest” off their prompter.

Editors’ Recommendations






No Comments

Comment on
There are no comments yet, but you can be the one to add the very first comment!

Comments