Switch 2, A New Persona, GTA 6's Reveal, And More Things We Predict For 2023
2022 proved to be an unusual year for the gaming industry, with a great deal of consolidation and no shortage of delays, as the pandemic continued to impact game development. There are many big games now planned for release in 2023 between Starfield, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Final Fantasy XVI, and many more, but what else is going to happen this year?
With that question in mind, we surveyed GameSpot's staff to see what we expect for the next 12 months. Will we finally hear about a Nintendo Switch successor, or yet another hardware revision for the extremely successful hybrid console? Did last year's GTA 6 leak impact the prospect of the game being properly announced this year? What does the uptick in the use of generative AI mean for game development? How will PlayStation and Xbox refine their respective strategies in the coming year?
We contemplate these possibilities and more below. Be sure to let us know what you expect to happen in 2023 in the comments below.
Nintendo will announce a full-fledged Switch 2
The Nintendo Switch is approaching its sixth anniversary, and it is showing its age more and more--even on Nintendo-published games like Bayonetta 3 and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. There have been rumors of a "Switch Pro" system for the last few years, presumably meant to act as a stopgap before a real successor is released, but I don't think Nintendo will announce that in 2023. Instead, a true Nintendo Switch successor--hopefully called the Switch 2 to avoid another Wii U fiasco--could very well be announced before the end of the year.
Nintendo struck gold with the Switch's hybrid design, and it's one I can't see the company ever moving away from. Rather than split up the userbase like it did (to a limited extent) with the New 3DS line, I predict Nintendo will do the only thing that makes sense when it has already sold over 100 million Switch systems: Release a follow-up system that those Switch-owners are going to want to immediately buy. I don't think it will be markedly different in its design, but with much beefier internals to better compete with the newer consoles' specs. Sure, it wouldn't be in the spirit of Nintendo's usual design issues to make such a similar system to its previous one, but the Switch is special. -- Gabe Gurwin
Generative AI will be the next hot topic in game development
Move over, blockchain and NFTs--there's a new technology in town that and I predict it will be every bit as exploitive. In 2022, generative AI saw a rapid rise in popularity thanks to programs such as Jasper and apps like Lensa, which allowed folks at home to generate professional-grade art (plus or minus a few appendages) at extraordinary speeds and without needing any prior knowledge or skill. However, though using these programs might seem fun and harmless, the ethics of AI generation are murky at best.
Oftentimes these services use Stable Diffusion, a method wherein existing works of art are fed into a database and combined into something new when a user enters a written description. More often than not, the artists whose works are being used did not consent to this process, making this whole thing sound more than a little bit like art theft. This already makes those little generated selfies you see on Twitter feel a whole lot less innocuous--and that's without even considering the notion of commercializing these creations.
So, how does this tie into the games industry? As games grow larger, more time, people, and money go into making them. While generation is already used in many games, based on what we know about the games industry and, well, capitalism, it doesn't seem like a stretch to speculate that folks are going to look for even greater forms of automation to cut corners. Generative AI seems very likely to be that shortcut. If studios adopt this process it could easily devastate not only the artists whose works are being morphed into some studio's Frankenstein's Monster, but those working in the industry who won't have as many job opportunities as well. It would be a serious blow to artistry, ingenuity, and humanity in games--and let's not get started on the potential legal issues. While there might be some ways in which AI generation could be positive, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of it. -- Jessica Howard
Halo Infinite makes a comeback
Halo is probably my favorite video game franchise ever. I am not only nostalgic for it, but I genuinely enjoyed Halo Infinite when it launched in November 2021. But the shine quickly wore off. Simply put, the game didn't deliver on its live-service promise. Even Microsoft admits to this. Xbox boss Matty Booty said Halo Infinite's launch was not unlike a runner tripping and falling at the finish line. Ouch! But no one should ever bet against Master Chief--the soldier has overcome some terrible odds before and I'd wager he and Halo Infinite are primed for another comeback in 2023.
My prediction for Halo Infinite in 2023 is that developer 343 Industries gets things back on track with a regular cadence of new content and in-game activities to keep things fresh and interesting, as well as some big new maps and modes, and more weapons! Season 3: Echoes Within is coming this March, and I am--perhaps optimistically--hoping it delivers the goods to begin 2023 on the right foot. Microsoft has said Halo Infinite is the foundation for the next 10 years of Halo, and if that's still the plan, one year of mediocre output could end up only being a blip on the radar when Halo Infinite's story is written. Believe! -- Eddie Makuch
We see more games with TTRPG-inspired mechanics and settings
2020 was an adrenaline shot for the tabletop roleplaying community, especially Dungeons & Dragons. Online tools like Roll20 and DnDBeyond created approachable and accessible ways for folks to jump into the culture and play with their friends virtually, welcoming thousands of new players looking for something to do with their friends that didn't require meeting in person. Actual-play shows saw a huge rise in popularity too--lots of people found themselves with bucketloads of free time after quarantining away behind locked doors, making it easy to binge through and stay up-to-date on the likes of Critical Role's Campaign 2 or Dimension 20's Fantasy High and A Crown of Candy.
Tons of video games already pull inspiration from TTRPG settings or mechanics--Dark Souls, Pillars of Eternity, The Witcher, XCOM, and Dragon Age, just to name a few--but as we head into 2023, the game industry finds itself with an audience that's suddenly far more versed in the mechanics and settings of TTRPGs than ever before. And that fanbase is only going to grow as a second season of the wildly popular animated retelling of Critical Role's Campaign 1--The Legend of Vox Machina--comes to Amazon Prime this January, Paramount Pictures' live-action movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves releases in March, and Larian Studios' long-awaited Baldur's Gate 3 leaves early access and launches in 1.0 later this year.
After exploring time loops, Greek mythology, Viking and Norse-inspired stories, and space horror these past few years, the gaming industry is bound to eventually move on to some other big trend. I predict TTRPGs--especially D&D--will be that next big influence for gaming, and we will see the beginning of that in 2023 with announcements and trailers for upcoming AAA games that feature the kind of narrative hooks, combat mechanics, action economy, monsters, and gameplay loops that will appeal to people who want more tabletop-like experiences from their video games. -- Jordan Ramée
A new mainline Persona game is announced
Thanks to re-releases and its penetration of gaming culture as a whole, Persona 5 has maintained a constant presence since its release. It might be hard to believe, but the original version of the beloved RPG was released six years ago, with Royal--the updated and expanded version--launching three years ago in October 2019. Since then, developer Atlus and publisher Sega have bolstered interest around the Persona series by re-releasing Persona 3 and Persona 4 on new platforms, allowing newcomers and longtime fans to experience the best of the long-running series again. Beyond that, there was Persona 5 Strikers--a pseudo-sequel to the game--soundtrack releases, an anime, a stage play, and an unbelievable amount of merchandise. It's safe to say that the world has been stricken with Persona fever, which means now is the perfect time to make the most of the zeitgeist. All it takes is a little teaser for Atlus to take our hearts again. -- Tamoor Hussain
Switch will get one more hardware revision
Based on rumors and plain old common sense, it's likely that Nintendo is deep in the process of making a Switch successor. But the Switch isn't gone yet, and Nintendo is just as likely to present one more hardware revision before its mega-successful hybrid console officially passes on to "last-gen" status. The system has had only two major hardware revisions so far: the Switch Lite and OLED model.
But this is a company notorious for multiple revisions, especially in the waning days of a successful portable device. Think back to the Game Boy Micro or the absolutely dizzying array of 3DS models. Nintendo is just a naturally iterative hardware company, managing to refine its manufacturing process and sell a new version of its hardware at a lower cost to audiences who balked at the higher price tag--or to eager Nintendo fans who will always buy the latest version. With the Switch on its presumptive way out, the time is ripe for Nintendo to squeeze out one more Switch. Perhaps one that takes advantage of both the smaller form factor of the Lite and the upgraded OLED screen. -- Steve Watts
GTA 6 gets officially announced
2023 marks the 10th anniversary of Grand Theft Auto V. Yes, really! The game enjoyed enormous, ongoing success, thanks in part to its GTA Online mode, but here's to hoping that 2023 sees Rockstar Games finally, and officially, announce Grand Theft Auto 6. Rockstar already confirmed it was developing the game--presumably to encourage people to come work at Rockstar and to help give investors confidence about parent company Take-Two's business outlook. But I am hoping and predicting that Rockstar Games officially announces GTA 6 this year with a proper trailer and first details.
The game already suffered an enormous, unprecedented leak that showed off its characters, locations, and gameplay details, providing a first look at the game in its unfinished state. No doubt this was an unfortunate setback for the development team, but that energy can shift in a more positive direction with some real, polished footage to get people hyped. I don't expect GTA 6 to actually be released in 2023, but getting the first details and footage of it will be enough for me this year. GTA 5 was a technical marvel and a gripping, enthralling open-world experience on the size and scale that no other game has ever matched as I see it. I can't wait to see what Rockstar has in store for GTA 6. -- Eddie Makuch
2023 will be the year of PlayStation multiplayer announcements
2020 was the year that Sony launched the PlayStation 5, but 2023 will be its true "next generation" start. Not for the reason its internal games will be PS5-exclusive, nor for PSVR 2's launch in February. It will be because it will finally unveil its massive investment in multiplayer and live-service titles. While this is something that the company has already teased for a few years, 2023 will be our first look at that actual strategy, as well as potentially the release of a couple of games that are a part of it.
2023 would be the perfect year for this initiative's launch for a couple key reasons. The first is that we simply don't know what's next for PlayStation Studios. Insomniac is releasing Spider-Man 2 this fall and is working on a Wolverine game, but that's it. As Sony begins to say goodbye to PS4, it would be a great time to display how the rest of the PS5 generation is going to differ from it.
The second reason is The Last of Us. 2023 is a marquee year for the IP with the imminent release of its TV adaptation and the 10th anniversary of the original game. While developer Naughty Dog has confirmed that it will showcase the fruits of its multiplayer labor this year, I imagine they'd like to get it into players hands before 2024 to ride the potential wave of renewed interest. -- Tom Caswell
Games With Gold bites the dust
With Game Pass increasingly becoming so central to Xbox's business model, it seems odd that it continues offering a separate subscription that involves free games. That's particularly true when the quality of what's offered by Games With Gold has noticeably dipped. In terms of Xbox One or Series X|S games, 2022 was a year filled with freebies you may never have heard of. And while some of them are certainly good (Yoku's Island Express is a lot of fun), the perception around Games With Gold has felt negative for quite some time now. Making matters worse going forward is that Xbox 360 games are no longer included, even though it was 360 games--old as they might be--that often represented the best GWG had to offer, with 2022 bringing Portal 2, Saints Row 2, Super Meat Boy, and Space Invaders: Infinity Gene.
But more importantly, Xbox is in the business of getting you to subscribe to Game Pass, whether or not you even own an Xbox console. It makes sense to consolidate wherever possible, and despite the previous insistence that Xbox Live Gold isn't going away, axing Games With Gold could give Gold subscribers a nudge toward moving to Game Pass. Hey, you're not getting free games any month, but have you seen what you'll have access to if you jump on the Game Pass bandwagon? -- Chris Pereira