Hold on, Player: 2022 will be weird.

When it came to the video game industry, 2021 felt like 12 months of tablecloths. Between long delays and experimental technology trends quickly made it clear that 2022 would be a significant year for video games. Futuristic concepts like “The Metaverse” and “Blockchain Gaming” began to dominate the conversation in 2021, but they weren’t just empty buzzwords. Some of the largest companies in the world invest a lot of money into these ideas to make sure they last a while – for better or for worse.

When all the pieces are finally in place, players should expect an unpredictable year of extreme peaks and valleys. There will be games and news that players will love, but be prepared for a whole lot of social media discourse. Here are four trends to watch out for over the next 12 months.

A huge year for games

Hope you have saved a lot of money in 2021 as it is going to be an expensive year. After a year of high-profile delays, 2022 looks like this biggest year for video games since 2017. Even a quick look at the current release schedule is intimidating. If everything goes according to plan, the players get Elden ring, Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok, Gran Turismo 7, Starfield, Splatoon 3, and a continuation of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by the end of the year. And that just scratches the surface.

“If” is the keyword there. The main reason 2022 looks so crowded right now is because several of these games should start in 2021 but have been delayed due to the pandemic. With the Omicron variant is currently on the advance, it doesn’t look like game development will be 100% efficient again anytime soon. There’s a good chance some of these games will be postponed to 2023. Even if that possibility shows up, there is still enough on the calendar for players to be kept busy, with or without a handful of delays.

Welcome to the Metaverse

Characters hang around a fountain in Roblox.

If you are not up to date with technical news, the metaverse may have sounded like a completely new concept in 2021. This was mainly due to the fact that Meta (formerly Facebook) fully embraced the ambitious digital idea and renamed it via an expensive marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter that the metaverse has has existed for over a decade thanks games like Roblox, Fourteen days, and even Second Life. With Mark Zuckerberg on board, the public finally took notice.

Now that it’s a hip and marketable concept, expect companies to speak even more clearly about the connection between gaming and the metaverse in 2022. It’s likely that we’ll see more projects that are less video games than sandboxes where players can hang out in virtual space (with or without a VR headset). Expect more In-game concerts, Special events and digital goods that can be purchased with V-Bucks currency. The line between “game” and “experience” becomes very blurred.

NFT drama inbound

Several phone screens show the NFT-oriented service called Ubisoft Quartz.

If you were hoping that the hustle and bustle surrounding NFTs and cryptocurrency was only a passing fad in 2021, then a rough reality check is ahead of you. Video game companies have only just started experimenting with the technology and there is no reason to believe that they will stop anytime soon. Giants like EA and Square Enix have invested heavily in blockchain technology, which is likely to come to fruition in the new year. Soon, if you have a wallet full of cryptocurrencies, you will likely be able to buy and own virtual goods in a wide variety of mainstream games.

But it doesn’t work without a fight. Players have already proven resistant to the idea and are battling any company that dares to dive into uncharted waters. Ubisoft’s current NFT experiment is weak start and STALKER 2: The heart of Chernobyl‘s planned NFT integration received so much backlash that the game’s developer completely canceled his plans. Any major NFT gaming project will encounter quick backlash on social media. it’s just a question of whether it’s worth it for companies to weather the storm.

One industry anticipates toxicity

A phone screen with the Activision Blizzard logo on it.
SOPA Images / Getty Images

The greatest gaming history of 2021 wasn’t Halo infinite, Metroid horror, or some exciting new game: It was a Series of bomb reports on Activision Blizzard’s history of workplace toxicity. That story hit the news cycle and cast a troubling light on the industry. Gamers found themselves in a moral dilemma, wondering whether it was ethical to play games that were created in such dark working conditions.

Unfortunately, this is not a new revelation. In 2020, players experienced the same story at Ubisoft. Before that it was Riot Games. A recent IGN report found that Fate 2 developer Bungie is facing a similar crisis. It’s a seemingly widespread problem, and one that’s likely happening in more studios than those we know.

The video game industry cannot sweep the subject under the carpet any further. Reporters routinely uncover problems in more and more studios, and players have gotten louder. Just look up Star Wars eclipse, which players promise to boycott over developer Quantic Dream, a studio with an alleged history of workplace toxicity. What is important is that game manufacturers apparently have have also reached a breaking point. Activision Blizzard employees have started unionizing their workplaces, which would be a historic move. The gaming industry is near boiling point in 2022 and it is unlikely that executives will be able to keep it in check for much longer.

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