The year 2021 has already been dubbed the "year of delays" by some gamers, and for good reason. It feels like every week, another PS5 or Xbox Series X title is shifted from its original release date to a nebulous 2022 launch window.
Most recently, it was the turn of PS5 exclusive Deathloop to vacate its May release date and instead opt for one in September. That's actually its second delay, after the game was pushed out of 2020 earlier.
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Arkane Studios’ upcoming action-adventure game is certainly not alone in its failure to meet its launch date. Returnal, Gotham Knights, Riders Republic, Back 4 Blood, Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, Gran Turismo 7, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Far Cry 6, and Hogwarts Legacy, have all received delays of varying degrees this year.
That’s not even an exhaustive list. Those are just the most significant titles that won’t make the developer’s intended original launch date.
Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier made the grim prediction in January that 2021 would see “many, many” delays, and only four months into the year, he has certainly been proved right.
The first of many, many 2021 game delays to come https://t.co/5kXylDn9AKJanuary 13, 2021
The impact of the pandemic is well and truly being felt on the industry now. This is clearly going to be a pretty barren year for brand-new AAA games, and hardly the first full year on the market that Sony or Microsoft envisioned for their shiny next-gen consoles.
Yet despite being hyped for many of the games that have already been delayed — Hogwarts Legacy being pushed back genuinely ruined my month — I’m actually starting to see the surprising positives of a year with fewer brand-new games.
Overlooked no more
Every year, a handful of smaller-scale titles (often called AA games) are released, but
through a combination of limited marketing budgets and bad timing, they get overlooked as big juggernaut franchises and sequels receive all the attention.
This year, not all of the smaller titles have been delayed. Perhaps due to a more limited scope, or more nimble development teams, these games are managing to trickle out.
Titles such as It Takes Two and Outriders have received serious plaudits from both critics and gamers alike. Both games have been able to dominate the gaming landscape in a way they simply wouldn’t have if they had been released in a normal year alongside some massive AAA game.
It Takes Two is one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time, and I wouldn't have given it much of a chance had the likes of Far Cry 6 launched around the same time. Outriders is all anyone on my friends list has played for the last two weeks, and I’m glad it’s found an audience that is appreciating it.
I can’t wait to see what other titles that weren’t on my radar in January will surprise me over the next eight months. I haven’t even mentioned the slew of incredible-looking indie games that are still flooding digital storefronts each week.
We might not be exploring Hogwarts or donning a batsuit in 2021 as we had hoped, but there are still fantastic games coming out every month, and I’m glad these titles are getting some much-deserved attention.
Time to clear the backlog
The other upside to a year with a vastly reduced release schedule (at least on the AAA side of the industry) is that 2021 represents an excellent time to finally clear up your gaming backlog.
We’ve all got a backlog. In the last six months, mine has spiraled out of control. Between Game Pass and the PlayStation Plus collection, not to mention the dozens of games I’d bought on sale and never got around to paying, I could never buy another game again and still have something new to play each week for decades to come.
Having just picked up an Xbox Series X last month, I’m planning to experience some gaming classics this summer, including The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, thanks to the console's incredible backward-compatibility features.
Playing older games like these is something I probably wouldn’t have had time to do if I had to keep up-to-date with a packed calendar of releases. All these delays have come with a pretty big silver lining.
I definitely won’t be buying as many brand-new games in 2021 as I would in a typical year. But there’s another benefit of a year with fewer landmark titles: We’ll all save some serious money.
This "year of delays" ain't looking so bad after all.