10 talking points from video games in 2022
When ‘Game of the year’ lists are made for 2022, Elden Ring will battle God of War Ragnarok – and Elden Ring will win. Although too frustrating and difficult for this writer to complete, Elden Ring is undeniably a work of brilliance, a mysterious and magnificent world that players can truly create their own through exploration and playstyle choices. Elden Ring is the rare game that actually lived up to the hype, and is the closest to a classic modern Castlevania we’re likely to see. But please, just add a difficulty slider next time.
Valve really stacked the deck in their favor with the release of the Steam Deck, arguably the best gaming hardware ever made. Valve are the custodians of Steam, by far the largest PC gaming marketplace out there, and their release of a handheld device (similar to a Nintendo Switch) that can play almost every PC game out there, plus run emulators and act like a regular PC is also simply seismic. It’s the best gaming hardware this writer has ever owned, and a must-buy for anyone who loves gaming.
Behind the scenes, there were some landscape-changing moves in the gaming industry in 2022. As gaming becomes an even bigger business, the competition is fierce, with the biggest fish fighting for market share. Among the massive moves this year were TakeTwo buying Zynga for $12 billion, Sony buying Destiny developer Bungie for $3.6 billion, and Microsoft buying Call of Duty makers Activision Blizzard for an eye-watering $68 billion. The most expensive game of all – corporate acquisitions.
The Japanese role-playing game has been a staple of gaming for 35 years, but standards have fallen over the past decade. Aside from Xenoblade Chronicles, no series has managed to bring the magic of the genre into big budget titles. Now we can add Tales of Arise to the short list of success stories. The story lacks a bit of maturity, but a superb mix of fantasy, great characters, exciting music and – most importantly – excellent gameplay means that Tales lives up to its name and rises above the pack.
It’s been almost ten years since the release of Grand Theft Auto V, the latest entry in one of the world’s biggest game franchises. So when a leaker hacked Rockstar servers and released early footage of the next game in development, the internet melted. Over an hour long, the video showed very rough footage of a game that was not ready to be seen publicly, causing anger from fans and developers alike. Still, it was one of the most exciting moments of the year and proof that Grand Theft Auto VI was real and on the way.
Unfortunately, the reality of inflation did not escape the gaming world in 2022, with a significant price increase for the PlayStation 5 in Ireland, with similar increases likely to follow for Xbox products in 2023. The price of a PS5 in Ireland went up by €50 this year, or an increase of around 10 percent. Additionally, we’ve seen the price of current-gen games rise in recent years as well, with titles like God of War costing €79.99. Fortunately, we’ve also seen the creation of Xbox Game Pass and the new PlayStation Plus bundles, both of which offer great value through subscriptions.
For older gamers, and for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, the Monkey Island franchise holds a special place in our hearts. Created in 1990 by Ron Gilbert and Lucasarts, the comedy adventure series went on to spawn many sequels – but only one was created by Ron himself. After a decade-long hiatus since the previous game, Gilbert surprised fans with a soulful sequel that was released in October; declaring it his true sequel to the second game. It’s a brilliant, fun, relaxing adventure for fans and newcomers alike.
FIFA chasing money? Probably not! Due to a dispute over the cash paid for their license, soccer body FIFA officially parted ways with EA Sports this year, meaning one of gaming’s most iconic franchises will no longer exist under the same name. EA Sports will still continue to produce a great football game every year – but it just won’t be called FIFA. What’s next – a World Cup in Qatar? Oh.
No matter how big the industry gets, we always have Nintendo to bring gaming back to its core values. Or at least the core values of the console generation. Chief among Nintendo’s champions are Mario and Zelda – and the new Zelda title was finally announced in 2022, with a moving trailer. Called Tears of the Kingdom, it’s the long-awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild and will likely keep the Nintendo Switch running for another two years. Let’s hope it brings tears to our eyes as well as to the kingdom.
Quietly, the best gaming story of 2022 was the non-fungible tokens (NFT) bug, which at one point seemed to have caught business executives and gaming stars at a fever pitch. Companies saw dollar signs in the sale of useless digital items that were marketed as rare to drive up the price. Fortunately, the players didn’t bite. In addition, the presence of loot boxes and microtransactions in big budget games has been noticeably reduced this year. As 2023 approaches, it could be a long time.