Predictions made of an entire industry are almost always wrong and are a waste of time — but they’re very fun if you don’t take them too seriously. That’s what this is. A fun, consequence-free prognostication that, like Babe Ruth pointing at the stands from the batter’s box, will be filled with bold and very specific called-shots, most of which won’t come to pass.
2024: Realistic Gaming Predictions
But you never know, especially since I’ll be making gaming predictions that aren’t so fanciful; predictions that don’t feel too far out of the realm of possibility; and predictions that maybe even have a sense of inevitability. There’s just something very 2024 about predictions like…
The Nintendo Switch successor makes its debut
The Nintendo Switch will turn seven years old this coming March. It’s already felt like an aging console for at least a few of those years. Nintendo consoles are never technical powerhouses, but in an era when gaming tech feels like it has another breakthrough every few months, the Switch feels like it’s woefully behind the times. That all changes in 2024.
This is the year that Nintendo, as they often do, decides to be the first of the major console manufacturers to announce all-new hardware, a successor to the Nintendo Switch. A successor that puts portability first but with a beefier set of chips and doodads that bring the Switch 2 (or whatever they end up calling it) on par with hand-held PCs like the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally, just two of the hand-held consoles that found success in the recent portable gaming gold rush. The Switch was a novel concept when it came out. It’ll be fascinating to see how Nintendo reacts to a market that has imitated and iterated on its ideas.
A much quieter year for big game releases
2023 was an onslaught of massive game releases. Some we all assumed would be hits on some level (Tears of the Kingdom) and others that took the gaming world by surprise (Baldur’s Gate 3). Looking ahead at 2024’s slate of games, there aren’t as many big-name titles that will for sure dominate the cultural conversation, at least not that I can see from back here in 2023. That’s not to say the schedule is devoid of interesting games.
Every month has something for everyone, and 2024 feels like the year Silksong might finally drop. But, using the 2023 Game Awards nominees as an imperfect indicator of release schedule strength, 2024 doesn’t feel like a year when every game nominated for Game of the Year could have been the undisputed GOTY in any other year.
2024 will have its big releases. It’ll have surprises that take the gaming world by storm. But, I predict, probably incorrectly, that 2024 will be an entire calendar year that lets you catch your breath a little, and maybe even provide just enough room to clear that 2023 backlog.
More games that are every game
Roblox created a model that other major developers and publishers will surely follow. One of the biggest already is. Epic Games took note of how Roblox built its wild success off the idea of being a hub for other games…and then just decided to do that. Why release a whole game with all the marketing fanfare that comes with it when you can release a smaller, simpler, more polished version of an idea as just one small part of a larger suite of games? You can play Fortnite in Fortnite, but now you can also play a racing game in Fortnite. And a Rockband-style rhythm game. And a Minecraft-inspired survival game. Fortnite isn’t just one game anymore — it’s every game, just like how Roblox isn’t one game, it’s a hub for every kind of game.
Just as the live service game became a trend that every major publisher wanted to get their hands on, the Hub-style game will truly take hold of the industry in 2024. Just think of it: in 2024, we could see Activision toss a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-inspired mode into Call of Duty. We could see Ubisoft use the Assassin’s Creed traversal mechanics to make a parkour racing game or a video game version of those professional tag clips you see floating around the internet. Get ready to hear the word “hub” way more than you ever thought possible.
Netflix will secure the publishing rights to a major game
Netflix’s foothold in the gaming industry has been steadily growing year by year. Just a couple of weeks before this article was published, Netflix made it possible to play the remasters of all three PlayStation 2-era Grand Theft Auto games on your phone as part of your Netflix subscription. This was after a year of snatching up a series of high-profile indie darlings to beef up their gaming offerings, a list that now includes Immortality, Into the Breach, Death’s Door, Dead Cells, Before Your Eyes, Kentucky Route Zero, Oxenfree, Oxenfree 2, and several others. Netflix took Microsoft’s threats of becoming the “Netflix of gaming” quite seriously and said, “No, actually, Netflix can be the Netflix of gaming.”
This not only won’t stop in 2024 but I wouldn’t be surprised if a big-name game from a big-name developer is announced as a Netflix exclusive. The fabled Bloodborne remake will only be playable in the same app you use to watch Seinfeld. Maybe you’ll unwind after a frustrating Silksong boss fight with a couple of Great British Baking Show episodes. Netflix wants to be taken seriously as a gaming outlet, so it’s only a matter of time before it pulls the trigger on a big move that establishes its place in the upper echelons of gaming destinations.
The acquisition wars will rage on
I’m not going to claim to know a thing about corporate economics. If interest rates drop in 2024, and inflation subsides as a result (if that’s even how it works), will game developers/studios be less willing to sell themselves to giant corporations, a la Microsoft’s takeover of Activision/Blizzard?
Uh, maybe? I don’t know.
All that stuff’s way over my head. But one thing that won’t be subsiding anytime soon is Microsoft and Sony’s jockeying for position in whatever the future of gaming ends up looking like. PlayStation is trying to sell hardware while Xbox is trying to sell a service in Game Pass. Both need glitzy exclusive games to sell their wares to prospective buyers. If you thought it was nuts that Sony now owns Bungie which used to be owned by Microsoft, and that Microsoft now owns the Warcraft and Call of Duty people, then start mentally preparing yourself for other major acquisition news in 2024. Both companies are looking ahead to the next console generation, however that takes shape, and are angling to be the company with the best games that can only be found on a PlayStation console or a platform with Game Pass on it.
More and Bigger games from Roblox creators
I’ve already talked a little about Roblox’s potential influence on the future of the industry, but there’s another way the gaming hub will change the industry in 2024 and beyond. Let’s use Lethal Company as an example. The scary co-op game took everyone by surprise when it became a late-2023 hit. People were impressed that this fun and wildly popular little game that came out of nowhere was made by just one person, an indie developer who calls themselves Zeekerss. Well, if you had been a part of the Roblox scene for the past decade, you wouldn’t have been too surprised by Zeekerss success, as they had been developing games for Roblox (and itch.io) for nearly a decade before the massive success of Lethal Company.
Roblox, for as much as it exploits the hard work of its user base, remains a place where blossoming game developers get in their fabled 10,000 hours of unseen experience before they’re ready to hit it big. It’s a training ground, and the fruits of its tutelage are only just starting to blossom. I think 2024 will be the year when the children of Roblox will break out across every genre and platform in the gaming world.