To say that 2021 has been one hell of a year would be a massive understatement. While the widespread pandemic locking us into the confines of our own residence had tons of devastating effects on a multitude of industries, the games industry managed to flourish even in these testing times as it brought in more revenue than ever before. That said, these numbers don’t necessarily reflect the proper image of what exactly went down during the times at some of the biggest studios around the globe. From a ton of delays to relatively less but still significant launch debacles, there have been no shortages of mishaps during this period as well.
Sony and Microsoft took a grueling challenge in 2020 by choosing to go ahead with the launch of their new generation consoles during these testing times, namely the PS5 and Xbox Series X respectively. Console launches are rarely smooth, and the sentiment very much stands true in the case of this generation too with widespread shortages still making it difficult for most gamers to get their hands on the console even today, and from what’s known, it’s going to remain the same for at least for a year from now as well.
However, it’s fair to say that Sony dominated Microsoft in its first year of sales – which can mostly be attributed to a great offering of first-party exclusives over the year. Bluepoint’s remake of Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure were the so-called launch system sellers for the generation. This was then followed by a steady drip of console and full exclusives such as the likes of Returnal, Deathloop, Kena: Bridge of Spirits among significant re-releases such Death Stranding: Director’s Cut and Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, ultimately making it a pretty fruitful year for the console.
As we move into the sophomore year of the console’s lifecycle, it’s already looking to be a packed one from the very start. Guerilla Games’ upcoming Horizon: Forbidden West will kick off the year when it launches on February 18, which will then shortly be followed by Gran Turismo 7 just next month on March 4. In addition to this, there are a healthy number of second-party exclusives coming too with the likes of Sifu and Stray. That’s on top of God of War: Ragnarok, Forspoken and Ghostwire: Tokyo that do not have any release dates just yet. However, just the fact that all of these seemingly great games are releasing in just a short span of 12 months is a huge indication Sony outdoing themselves by a significant margin, thanks to its first and third party output.
2023 could be a similarly fruitful year for the PS5 as well. While Spider-Man 2 is the only exclusive that is confirmed to be released that year, it’s quite possible that fans could be getting a bunch of other highly-anticipated games as well. For starters, Marvel’s Wolverine might also release during the same year as Insomniac has already proven itself to be a developer that can pump out multiple quality experiences in a relatively short span of time. The rumored Metal Gear Solid remake for the PS5 (if true) could also come out sometime around the timeframe. Naughty Dog is yet to ship anything new to this console generation, and the same can be said about Sucker Punch Productions as well, so new game reveals from those studios are definitely due at some point next year. Bluepoint is also confirmed to be working on two projects for the PS5 right now. The 2023 time frame seems ripe for such projects to release, but even if a few of these check out, it could turn out to be another solid year for the PS5 once again.
Sure, one could say that it’s nothing compared to the Sony of the early 2000s when the PlayStation 2 would get at least a dozen or so console exclusives from both first and third party companies, and of course timed-exclusivity for genre-defining hits such as Grand Theft Auto 3. However, compared to the Sony of the PS4 generation where it seemed almost customary that fans would be treated to one exclusive during the Spring season and another during the Fall of the year, 2022 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for PlayStation exclusives and the gamers who will play them. However, how well these games will actually play is something that remains to be seen but if history is anything to go by, these games should at least be solid experiences.
Sony taking bold steps to increase its output of system-selling first-party exclusives is commendable on its own, although it is just the beginning. The Japanese giant has made a slew of important acquisitions over the last year with studios such as Bluepoint Games, Nixxes, Housemarque, and Firesprite which itself acquired Fabrik Games shortly after becoming a part of PlayStation Studios. Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst has already clarified that the team isn’t done with acquisitions just yet, meaning we can expect similar news to pop up at a consistent pace over the coming years as well.
This series of acquisitions is the seed that will bear the fruit of PS5 exclusives in the coming years. What some might be thinking of as an anomalous influx of games caused by the pandemic and related delays could and probably would become the new normal for the PS5 generation going forward. The key to being successful in the console space isn’t the hardware prowess that you are offering, rather what matters is the quality and by extension, the number of experiences that one can get on the platform which is a reality that Sony’s immediate competition has already come to grips with.
So while Microsoft’s current business strategy isn’t reliant on how many console units they manage to sell within a fiscal year, the Redmond-based giant has certainly been investing aggressively into getting more and more first-party content for its platforms and using that to ultimately make Xbox Game Pass a sustainable and profitable venture. Its own steady stream of acquisitions will likely end its long drought of first-party exclusives.
But given PlayStation’s consistent output, 2022 is looking like the biggest year for PS5 exclusives – but what is going to be interesting is whether Sony can at least sustain, or better yet outdo itself in the years going forward. Either way, this generation of consoles will be an interesting one to see unfold but one thing’s for sure – Sony fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.