2021 Year In Review
Contributed by DJMMT
Honestly, I didn’t even want to write this post this year. When I look back on 2021 as a consumer, it was very bleak. Don’t get me wrong. We got some great games in the last 12 months. Personally, I had a great year of gaming. Most of the games I played weren’t released this year, but there were some great newer titles I did get to play as well. Like Metroid Dread. But in general this was a really disappointing or even downright sad year for gamers. Especially at an industry analysis level.
The thing that makes me so unhappy with gaming in 2021 is the fact many of the problems shown by the industry this year are systemic in nature. It was not the pandemic that caused many of the problems. Yes, we’re still dealing with problems that we saw in 2020 like supply chain issues making it difficult for people to get PS5s and graphics cards. Yes, development is still being stalled by certain studios as they continue to work remotely or downsize to smaller teams. But these weren’t the worst issues for gaming in 2021. I’m much more concerned with other issues that are unjustifiable and truly disheartening both for consumers and as members of the labor force.
To be clear, a lot of things happened in 2021 and it would be impossible to cover them all in a reasonable amount of time. But here are my thoughts on the topics in gaming, good and bad, that most stuck out to me in 2021. Again, I have not covered everything and I’m not saying these are the most important issues/occurrences in gaming this year. These are simply the ones that stood out to me as being particularly memorable and worth discussing in this post.
I could write an entire article about this company’s many legal and PR missteps this year, as many already have. I mean we all know the industry as a whole is pretty terrible about a lot of issues but this company doesn’t just take the cake. They bake it as well. And it just kept getting worse and worse with every follow up report and response from the company. And to top it all off, they actively fought to keep Bobby Kotick in power even after revealing that he was a root cause of the problem. But that’s capitalism for you. I don’t even feel like it’s necessary to dive into the specifics of this company’s long list of bullshit revealed this year. I was never a fan of Blizzard and honestly haven’t purchased a single game from them in the entire history of the company. But I’ve bought more than one Activision game over the years, so I’m as culpable as the next gamer. It’s just absolutely ridiculous that the company is so terrible that death was a preferable choice for at least one employee.
I don’t like Director’s Cuts being applied to games and I feel that they’re another cash grab marketing ploy by developers to fleece the public for more DLC sales. And these upgrade costs have gotten ridiculous. I expect this kind of shit from Kojima but what a shame Sucker Punch Productions. Even more disappointing is the fact that in the PSN Holiday Sale they discounted the Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut but didn’t discount the Director’s Cut upgrade for people who already bought the game. Scummy business practices through and through. And it’s only going to get worse.
THE GAME AWARDS
This year was the worst, most ridiculous GOTY pick since 2016. Really impressive list of announcements during the show, but these awards become more of a joke with a clear biased agenda against traditional big budget games with each passing year.
There are two ways to look at this game. We can focus on how disappointing the game was at launch and how mediocre and repetitive the gameplay is, which is what I did last year. Or we can commend Square Enix for continuing to support this game. Say what you want about the quality of the game, but I have been extremely impressed by the continued support of Marvel’s Avengers at a content level. They have created multiple impressive story expansions that have made me consider jumping in, knowing full well that I did not enjoy the beta. And for the most part they haven’t been overcharging for new story content. We should at the very least be celebrating the team and publisher’s choice to stick to their word about keeping the game going long-term even in the midst of negative response from the public. I’d love to see that kind of support and pricing strategies for other games.
THE NINTENDO RELEASE MODEL
Love them or hate them, no company playing at AAA level respects their fans with announcements like Nintendo does. Game after game with a release date happening within one year of announcement. And a year is long for a lot of their drops this year. Pokémon Legends: Arceus was announced in February 2021 and will drop in January 2022. That’s the long announcement window. Metroid Dread dropped less than five months after announcement. Same with Mario Party Superstars. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, which is not published by Nintendo, was originally announced for the Switch first, with a playable demo, and released a month later. This is how you announce and release games! Respect my time, my expectations, and my patience. Don’t talk to me about a game until you’re ready to release it. Everyone needs to stop with all these ridiculous hype trains and take another page from Nintendo.
ANIMAL CROSSING DLC
While I did not personally jump back in, because of the massive time sink that is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I was so impressed by the amount of additional content they added in the final update to Animal Crossing. I wasn’t even mad that it’s paid DLC after seeing how much more content was added. They more than earned that money after already giving people literally hundreds of hours of gameplay. I personally put more than 700 hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons in 2020. $25 for a whole other game’s worth of content on top of that is a steal. Again, I didn’t buy it and haven’t jumped back into the game, but I commend Nintendo for providing so much more to a game that already had more gameplay than should have ever been expected from a single game.
It was a tough year for gamers while also having a number of excellent games to play. Looking forward to 2022, I predict similar things. There are some absolute bangers coming out next year. I’m excited for Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Horizon Forbidden West, Bayonetta 3, and God of War Ragnarök, just to name a few titles. There will be great gaming experiences in the next year. But I fear that, as is common for the gaming community, we will ultimately get distracted by these great games and ignore huge issues in the industry that will only make things worse for consumers and employees of the industry in the long run. It is sad that we can’t both have great games and demand companies to be better at the same time.