Gaming Has Been Terribly Hard This Year in 2023

Although 2023 is one of the best years ever for video game launches, things have become worse behind the scenes. Video games have had a terrific year in 2023. Yes, I am aware. Just put the title aside for a moment, please. With this, I’m getting someplace. Baldur’s Gate 3 topped The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom by one point in under three months, after the latter released to one of the highest Metacritic review scores ever. The greatest horror game ever created, Resident Evil 4, has been remade, and in some ways, it’s even better than the original.

When we say that this year has been fantastic, we mean that some very fantastic games have come out. The aforementioned list is self-explanatory, and that’s not even counting the lesser-known but extraordinarily unique independent experiences such as A Space for the Unbound, Paranormasight, or Farewell Volcano High. However, gaming is more than just the titles that appear within a given year. And what a terrible year this has been thus far.

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The game of the year with the most reviews is Baldur’s Gate 3. The main reason it’s fantastic is that Larian was given the freedom to take its time refining every aspect of the game, including rolling into a lengthy and cozy early access period. BioWare announced major layoffs in the same week that the game launched to critical acclaim and Steam figures that were just inches away from breaking records. This had an effect on every department at BioWare, as senior writers and the minds behind cult-like characters were fired without warning. It became clear that, despite all of its grandeur, Baldur’s Gate was the exception.

Amidst all of this, Microsoft laid off nearly a thousand employees, with Bethesda and 343 receiving the most of them. Additionally, shortly after purchasing Rovio, the company that created Angry Birds, for $775 million—and then promptly killing it to resurrect it as a monstrous microtransaction-stuffed phoenix—Sega laid off 121 people citing “external factors.

In reality, Kotaku reports that 1,600 workers have been let go by Unity and EA, and that roster cuts have also been made by Firaxis, Take-Two, Riot, CD Projekt Red, and FaZe Clan. Embracer is currently reducing its losses because its acquisition-heavy strategy failed to provide results immediately. Companies continue to make cuts even while the overall sales of video games are rising and the economy is (relatively) stable.

It’s sort of the natural conclusion. Although games make more money than movies, TV shows, or music, their production cycles are also far longer. If we assume that Grand Theft Auto 6 and Red Dead Redemption 2 will come out in the same year, then Rockstar will have produced eight Taylor Swift albums and fifteen Marvel films in the interim.

Permanent fall of E3.

That is limited to the studio level. That’s before you factor in the employment losses in the video game journalism industry and the discontinuation (and probably irreversible decline) of E3. With layoffs and harsher working circumstances, a strong press that isn’t just an extension of PR is more important than ever and is dwindling. Concurrently, E3 used to be the year’s main attraction and a symbol of everything gaming. These days, however, E3 was deemed unnecessary and was replaced by the more commercially oriented Summer Game Fest. This was due to longer development cycles, corporate penny-pinching on both sides, and studios eager to control the narrative with their own shows (even at the cost of airtime for smaller studios crucial to the ecosystem).

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