Dec 10, 2021 - Technology

The Game Awards reveals big-budget publishers' priorities for the future

Screenshot of a person's face streaked with soot in a gameplay trailer
From the new gameplay trailer for Hellblade II. Screenshot: Ninja Theory/Xbox

Thursday night’s The Game Awards featured dozens of world premiere trailers and a smattering of awards. (It Takes Two won best game.)

Why it matters: The show offered a look at big-budget publishers’ priorities for the near term.

  • Some prominent themes popped out.

Big studios tied to big brands:

  • Warner Bros. revealed that its studio Monolith, fresh off two Lord of the Rings games, is building a Wonder Woman adventure. The game will use the studio’s patented Nemesis system, which tracks enemy characters’ interactions with players.
  • Disney, which recently ended its Star Wars exclusivity deal with EA in favor of working with more studios, revealed the previously leaked Star Wars Eclipse. It’s an original adventure from the controversial Quantic Dream studio, which has been mired in legal fights over reports of workplace misconduct.

New studios trying to recapture old glory:

  • Dramatic Labs — a studio full of people who made pioneering, choice-filled narrative adventures for Telltale Games — revealed a Star Trek game slated for the spring.
  • Inflexion Games — a studio run by a former manager of beloved role-playing game creators Bioware — unveiled an online fantasy crafting game called Nightingale.
  • Embark — a studio with numerous ex-Battlefield developers — showed off a sci-fi shooter called ARC Raiders.
  • The lead creator of the classic horror game Silent Hill announced a disturbing-looking project called Slitterhead.

A push for realistic graphics:

  • From one of the first trailers, for Xbox exclusive Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, to the final reveal, an Unreal Engine 5 tech demo set in The Matrix universe, the mega-studios were promoting game graphics that look closer to lifelike than ever.

Also notable:

  • Remedy is making Alan Wake 2 for a 2023 target release, 13 years after its predecessor.
  • Outerloop Games, a studio that focuses on work featuring underrepresented cultures, showed Thirsty Suitors, an action adventure game about family and relationships.

About that other thing: TGA host Geoff Keighley condemned game industry workplace misconduct in his opening remarks, though he didn’t name any companies and coupled it with criticism of player toxicity in online games.

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