The main reason for this column today is to wish you a happy Fourth of July and thank you for reading GamesBeat and VentureBeat. So thanks, and go blow things up in a safe and sane way (maybe inside video games). I like this holiday because it marks the middle of the year, and in some ways it gives us hope that the next six months can be better.
So far, 2020 has been horrible. We have our wild politics, made so much worse by the pandemic. We had the tragic death of George Floyd, with Black Lives Matter protests following (and continuing). The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements are having an impact on the game industry, which saw hundreds of sexual misconduct complaints detailing toxic behavior in the industry at all levels, from game development to influencers. Ubisoft announced an action plan to address misconduct yesterday, and the Evo fighting game tournament has canceled its 2020 online event as a result of its own abuse scandal. We can’t yet predict the full impact of allegations across the industry.
In terms of games, some stellar titles came out, such as The Last of Us Part II, Call of Duty: Warzone, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Half-Life: Alyx, and Doom Eternal. I’m playing Ghost of Tsushima, which debuts on July 17 on the PlayStation 4 as the first major game of the second half. Other big games coming include Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers on September 4 and CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 on November 19.
We’ll also see Amazon Studios launching New World, a massively multiplayer online game, on August 25. InXile’s Wasteland 3 is coming on August 28. Electronic Arts has teed up Star Wars: Squadrons for October 2.
Big titles without specific launch dates include the next Call of Duty, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Empire of Sin, Dying Light 2, Watch Dogs Legion, Oddworld: Soulstorm, Tell Me Why, 12 Minutes, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, CrossfireX, and Microsoft’s long-awaited Halo Infinite.
Of course, we’ll also see the arrival of the PlayStation 5 from Sony and the Microsoft Xbox Series X. Lots of games will hit those consoles, but despite so much riding on them, we still don’t have launch dates for these machines.
That’s a lot to get excited about. I don’t anticipate too many surprise games during the rest of this year, but you never know, with console launches and unexpected hits like last year’s Untitled Goose Game.
The Xbox Summer Game Fest will kick off second-half announcements from July 21 to July 27, with a focus on indie games for the Xbox One. It may also surprise us with a new version of the Xbox Series X and an announcement of the rumored Lockhart machine in August. That’s a lot of entertainment coming, not to mention all sorts of mobile and VR games. I hope it’s enough to distract us all from our difficult reality and keep us satisfied with indoor activities. Games are more important than ever before when it comes to keeping people in their homes during the pandemic.
It will clearly be a busy slate in terms of major game releases. But I’m also hopeful that we’ll see action from companies looking to address issues related to Black Lives Matter and the latest round of #MeToo allegations. Ubisoft had a lot of reports of misconduct, and CEO Yves Guillemot has promised swift action.
Our presidential election is coming up in November, and for all our sakes, let’s hope it’s good news. As far as events go, I’m looking forward to online sessions at the Game Developers Conference, Gamescom, and Devcom. Those online events aren’t a substitute for meeting in person, but they’re the next best thing in our lockdown environment.
We’ll be putting on a new conference about gaming and the Metaverse, tentatively set for November 9 and November 10. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now the idea is to discuss the best way to accelerate to the Metaverse, the group of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Amid a pandemic, we think accelerating development of the Metaverse is more important than ever.
As for seeing all of you in person, let’s hope things will be brighter in 2021. For now, Happy Fourth.