Gaming

2021, a bleak year for video games

The release schedule has been disrupted by difficulties caused by the shift to telecommuting in production studios.

In 2020, video games took full advantage of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Locked up in their homes, families had turned to games to entertain themselves, meet their friends online, and take a break. One year later, Covid-19 continues to have an impact on this industry. But this time it is negative. The stock prices of the giants of the sector illustrate this gloomy year: -50% in 2021 for Ubisoft, -25% for Activision-Blizzard, -20% for Nintendo, -10% for Take-Two, -5% for EA The same recorded a stock market growth of 20 to 50% in 2020.

Unconfined gamers haven’t put their consoles in the attic. But they had far fewer important games to eat. And for good reason: the massive shift to teleworking, imposed by the health situation, represented a real challenge in production studios accustomed to collaborative work on site. Less fluid communications, more complex integration of new hires … these obstacles have slowed down the work processes of these companies. They had no choice but to postpone the launch of their games.

The producer of the role-playing game Final Fantasy XVI (Square-Enix) has thus revealed that the development of this long-awaited title had been delayed for six months due to teleworking. “This made it difficult for the Tokyo teams to communicate and in turn led to delays or even cancellations of work done by our external partners,” explains Naoki Yoshida.

It is also difficult not to see the trace of these difficulties in the games Battlefield 2042 (EA) and GTA The Trilogy (Take-Two). They were able to go on the market … but paralyzed by mistakes that aroused the ire of buyers.

Blockbusters with absent subscribers

The video game release schedule has been so complicated that blockbusters have become scarce in 2021. Of the ten best-selling video games this year in the UK, only four were released in 2021 … (Fifa 22, Super Mario World 3D, and the latest Call of Duty and Pokémon). This sparse landscape has made it possible for much smaller budget games to turn heads: It Takes Two, Returnal, and Valheim are among the surprises of the year.

However, this drop did not affect publishers’ income much. New products are no longer the central pillar of your economic model. The commercial lifespan of video games has increased considerably in the last five years thanks to digitization. Online games, such as Fortnite (Epic Games), Overwatch (Activision-Blizzard), Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft) or GTA Online (Take-Two), captivate their fans with the regular addition of new content and push them to buy. options. And thanks to shopping platforms like the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store or Steam, publishers can continue to sell their games from previous years at reduced prices. What we today call “back catalog” represents more than half of the revenues of the major publishers.

Resumption of the main emissions in 2022

The games market has also been affected by insufficient stocks of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. These next-generation platforms, launched in November 2020, are hit hard by the global semiconductor shortage. Although copies regularly leave Asian factories, their volumes do not meet consumer demand. It is almost impossible to find these consoles in stores. And the replenishment of ecommerce sites times out just a few minutes after they go online.

This situation dragged the US market. Although the month of November, driven by Black Friday, the outlook for Christmas and the release of blockbusters, is usually flourishing, this year it registered a drop of -10% compared to November 2020. This decrease is due to to the shortage of next-generation consoles. whose sales fell 38%. Throughout 2021, the US gaming market grew 9%, up from 22% the previous year. We will have to wait until the first quarter of 2022 to know the figures for the French market.

While the console shortage is not expected to improve anytime soon, the outlook for 2022 looks brighter on the launch front of the game. Many projects moved to 2021 will see the light in the coming months: Elden Ring (Bandai Namco), Horizons Forbidden West (Sony), God of War Ragnarok (Sony), Starfield (Microsoft), the sequel to Zelda Breath of the Wild (Nintendo ), the PlayStation 5 version of GTA V … But, as long as the health situation has not returned to normal, players will not be immune to further postponements.

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