Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
Despite promising beginnings, in many ways 2021 didn’t deliver on much of its gaming potential. Next-gen hardware is still impossible to find, highly-anticipated games were delayed even further into the future, and many of the big-name titles that did launch were disappointing or buggy (or both). But we have high hopes for next year. It could be the year where we finally break out of the pandemic lull and into a bright new next-gen future. With that in mind, here’s a short wishlist of what we want to see from gaming in 2022.
Ubiquitous access to next-gen hardware
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: hardware. At this point, it’s been well over a year since the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles launched, and they’re still constantly out of stock at virtually every retailer around the globe. For PC gamers, the same goes for graphics cards, with entire shipments consumed by crypto miners and speculators.
Availability should improve by mid-2022, at least for next-gen consoles. And it’s about time.
No matter how good upcoming games look to be in 2022 (and there are some real bangers), without new hardware it’s going to be difficult to push into the next generation of games. Obviously, the global chip shortages affect all companies, not just Microsoft and Sony, but considering how long these consoles were in development (and how long they’ve been out at this point), we should start seeing some improvements.
We’re hoping that things are looking better by mid-2022, at least on the console front. PC hardware will likely take longer, but a recent report indicates that by late 2022 Nvidia expects to increase production yields. Legislation outlawing the bots scalpers use to buy consoles and graphics cards as soon as they’re in stock may also make some headway in 2022, at least in the UK.
Cloud gaming going mainstream
Cloud gaming is here! And has been here for a few years now.
But for whatever reason, it hasn’t quite had its breakout moment. Google Stadia made waves when it was announced (for better or worse), but has failed to build any momentum two years later. Xbox Cloud Gaming, included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, works pretty well but is still in beta and tied to an expensive subscription.
But 2021 did provide a few blueprints for mass market success in the cloud gaming space. The first relates to the point above, and that’s the lack of availability of hardware. Earlier this year, GeForce Now launched a new “RTX 3080” plan that offers ray tracing and up to 1440p 120fps streaming. That kind of PC performance will cost you an arm and a leg in today’s hyperinflated graphics card market.
Read also: Google Stadia vs GeForce Now
It’s a similar story with storage space on consoles, with ballooning game sizes and conservative base storage amounts on cheaper consoles like the Xbox Series S. That console only comes with a measly 364GB free, and the cheapest expansion card costs a whopping $140 for just 512GB.
Another potential route for cloud gaming success is demos and free weekends. Both have been around for ages, but moving them to the cloud significantly reduces friction. With the Stadia backend (which is still arguably the best performer) moving to a white label service, we could see more publishers launching their own cloud services for their own libraries of games.
And when that happens, the ease of access may allow cloud gaming to finally get over its stigma and take its rightful place alongside consoles and PCs.
More (good) TV and movie adaptations
Movies and TV shows based on video games have historically been pretty awful, but in recent years things have really turned around.
Coming up next year and beyond, we have the aforementioned Sonic sequel, an Uncharted movie, an animated Super Mario Bros movie (it can’t be worse than 1993’s fever dream of a movie), a Tomb Raider sequel, and movies based on The Division, Splinter Cell, and other big-name franchises. We also got the much-hyped The Last of Us series on HBO to look forward to.
So essentially, we’d like to see studios keep it up. Stay true enough to the source material that fans are satisfied, but don’t pander to gamers so much that it’s an unintelligible mess (I’m looking at you, Doom movie).
Revamped Sony PlayStation subscriptions
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
One thing that became abundantly clear in 2021 is that Microsoft is on to something with Xbox Game Pass. The massive library of games that includes all first-party releases and several others on day one is just too good to pass up. The value is even better with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes Xbox Live Gold, PC Game Pass, and Xbox Cloud Gaming as well.
Sony, on the other hand, is woefully behind the curve. There are two pseudo Game Pass libraries, the first included in PlayStation Plus and called PS Plus Collection. However, that one is just for PlayStation 5 owners and it only includes a handful of games. The other library, included with PlayStation Now, is much larger, but doesn’t include very many new games.
The good news here is that changes appear to be on the way. A recent scoop from industry insider Jason Schreier revealed a new three-tiered subscription service, tipped for launch in Spring 2022. The highest tier will include online play, a small catalog of PS4 and PS5 games, and a larger library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games.
If this is true and Sony manages to nail pricing and features, it could finally compete with Microsoft’s subscriptions. But that’s a tall order.
More handheld gaming devices
2021 was (almost) the year of the Steam Deck, and despite a delay to early 2022, it still has a lot of potential to bring PC gaming to a portable form factor. The continued success of the Nintendo Switch, which at this point is terribly underpowered compared to its competitors even after its OLED revamp, proves that there is a market for this, and we’d like to see it exploited.
Sure, there are other handheld PC devices, but they’re expensive and overly niche. With the power of Steam behind this new device, it could usher in a new wave of portables. Or it could wash out with the tide like its Steam Machines.
We still expect mobile gaming to dominate the market, but it would be nice to have options.
But that’s not the only new portable on the horizon! The long-awaited Analogue Pocket will allow you to play all of your retro Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance cartridges, plus other classic handheld systems like the Game Gear with adaptors. There’s also the adorable (if impractical) Playdate, which is designed to play a constantly shifting catalog of indie games.
There’s also a big question mark over handhelds that could take advantage of Qualcomm’s new custom mobile chip, tailored specifically for gaming on the go. We’ve already seen a Razer prototype, but could Android-powered game consoles be about to make a big splash?
Regardless of the specifics, we really want to see more devices designed first and foremost for gaming on the go. We still fully expect mobile games to grow and thrive in 2022, but it would be nice to have more options. A portable Xbox or modern PlayStation handheld? Yes, please.
What would you like to see from gaming in 2022? Vote below, or drop your own original ideas in the comments below.
What do you want to see from gaming in 2022?