The gaming news of 2019 is well underway. Game publishers are getting some of their last major games out of the way, as there’s a very real chance this is the last year before next-generation hardware arrives. For now, I want to home in and take a look at what each of the major console producers will be bringing in 2019. Let’s dive in and examine what Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will (possibly) bring in 2019.
Sony had a very strong year in 2018, with the PlayStation 4 continuing to sell extremely well and a bevy of incredibly strong game releases, such as God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man. VR sales as a whole remain less than impressive but it’s clear that PlayStation VR is leading the pack. I see no reason this won’t continue with more VR games on the way, which we’ll touch on below.
First, let’s begin by diving into the obvious question: when is the PlayStation 5 coming? When will we first learn of it? To that end, I believe we’ll see the PlayStation 5 teased or unveiled in a limited fashion at PlayStation Experience 2019. If it were being revealed early in 2019 at a PlayStation Meeting, Sony would not be skipping E3 2019. A proper reveal with full details, technical specifications and new game announcements is likely set for early 2020.
Now, let’s take a look at the state of Sony’s studios and partnerships, both the known and the unknown. We know Days Gone will release on April 26th, 2019. While it’s not a tentpole title God of War, Sony’s marketing has worked wonders for their games that release in the first half of the year, so pending reviews, it should do alright. Concrete Genie, from the minds at PixelOpus, is currently being aimed for an “early 2019 release date” though I think we could see it pushed back to May.
Dreams recently held its long-anticipated beta, and I think Media Molecule is aiming to get Dreams out in the summer, though if it still isn’t ready by then they might push it back into September. This game has been in development a long time and while I think the potential is incredibly exciting, Sony’s going to have an uphill battle attracting attention to it. There’s also some third-party games that will be at least temporarily exclusive by default, such as Judgement, from the same developers behind the Yakuza franchise.
SIE San Diego Studio is working on MLB: The Show 19, which will release on March 26th, 2019. Business as usual.
Manchester Studio (previously North West) was formed specifically to make VR games back in 2014 and it is more than time we heard something from them. If there’s no announcement at any point this year, I have to wonder what’s going on.
London Studio is working on a very ambitious VR game called Blood and Truth. This should drop somewhere from September to November to keep PSVR owners excited.
We’ve also got the MediEvil remake, which is no blockbuster but looks like a fun, simple throwback. If this isn’t done by the leisurely sparse summer months, then they’re probably going to drop it in October to compliment the spooky season.
Out of all the games that Sony is still readying for this generation, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding are the remaining “big three,” the massive blockbusters in Sony’s pipeline that still don’t have a release date, release window or even a general year attached to them. When do they release? I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t think any of them will come out in 2019.
I’d love to be wrong and Sony is more than welcome to prove me wrong however, if we look at the release announcements for Sony’s more recent releases, they all had a solid date only a couple of months before launch. With that said, they previously had established release windows: we knew for a long time that God of War was coming in early 2018, we knew that Detroit: Become Human and Marvel’s Spider-Man were being aimed for 2018 (as was Days Gone but then Red Dead Redemption 2 was delayed, which helped to bump it). Without any sort of release window attached to these “big three” it just doesn’t make sense. Let them slip into 2020, let the developers have enough time. There’s still games coming out this year.
All in all, I think PlayStation is in for a very good year, though perhaps not the same astronomical success it had in 2018. Certainly, expectations should be tempered in the anticipation of the three megatons – that way, if by some miracle one does arrive, it comes as a fantastic surprise.
Xbox has had a bit of a rough generation, there’s no denying. Between delays and cancellations, their first-party output has suffered. Fortunately, they spent a large portion of 2018 addressing how that would be changing. Between E3 2018 and X018, they acquired six studios and announced the creation of seventh: Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games, InXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment and The Initiative, respectively. Of these acquired studios, most are busy wrapping up projects or are still in the early phases of growing, though I do think we’ll see something from Ninja Theory and Playground Games announced around E3 2019.
Of the announced games, Crackdown 3 is first up on the docket. What we’ve seen recently has looked promising, with superhero-esque gameplay that looks fun, in addition clear evidence of cloud-powered destruction in Wrecking Zone. Whatever this game ends up being, at the very least it will finally be out.
With Turn 10 Studios focusing on improving Forza Motorsport 7 and Playground Games just releasing Forza Horizon 4 in September 2018, it looks like we won’t have a Forza game release this year. If so, it’ll be the first year in a long time without a Forza title. If we do by any chance get one, it’s some sort of new crazy spin-off and not a mainline Motorsport or Horizon title.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks to be an absolute masterpiece and from what I played at E3 2018 it could easily be a Game of the Year contender for 2019. Moon Studios has refined, expanded and polished an already incredible foundation and I truly believe this will be one of the most stellar games of the year.
Now we come to Gears 5, which I thinkwill be an incredible title, with The Coalition and Splash Damage having three years to work on this as opposed to just under two years for Gears of War 4. This game is seeing a shift to Kait as the protagonist and should release in late September/early October release, the usual Forza slot. Paired with a good bit of marketing and Game Pass, this should perform extremely well.
There’s also some other Gears titles to consider: Gears POP!, a mobile spin-off and Gears Tactics, a turn-based strategy title being primarily developed by Splash Damage. The former being a mobile game, I think it’ll likely drop around September to help boost marketing for Gears 5. As for Gears Tactics, there’s no release window attached and it seems unlikely that Microsoft would put it out after Gears 5, so this is likely going to be pushed into Spring 2020.
Finally, we have Battletoads from Dlala Studios. Now, this could release a summer game. If it isn’t ready by then however, I expect them to release it in early September.
There’s a couple of other currently announced games that I don’t think can possibly hit this year. Halo Infinite was announced at E3 2018 but with the deep work that 343 Industries and Skybox Labs are doing in building the Slipspace engine, this screams of being a cross-generation title and there’s absolutely no way it is releasing in 2019. Age of Empires 4, in development by Relic Entertainment, is similarly unlikely to hit 2019.
2018 was the year Game Pass took everyone by storm and 2019 is absolutely going to continue that pattern. With third-party games hitting Game Pass – some even launching day and date into the service – this is an area Microsoft will continue to focus in order to grow the Xbox ecosystem. Project xCloud will begin beta testing and I expect we’ll hear more well before E3 2019. I’m also fully expecting Project xCloud to be tied to Game Pass, as Microsoft wants to grow that subscriber base as much as possible.
We’ll probably get a tease of Microsoft’s next-generation hardware – if not at E3 2018, then at X019 in the fall. Like Sony however, I don’t expect a full unveiling until 2020.
Microsoft Studios is expanding rapidly and there is definitely more to come. I can’t possibly predict the exact number but we’ll definitely see some more expansion this year – both in the form of acquisitions and possibly new teams built from the ground-up.
Nintendo has done exceptionally well with the Nintendo Switch, with games like Octopath Traveler and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate bringing quite a bit of attention to the system in 2018. In 2019, it seems like the main focus will be on the currently unnamed Pokemon RPG. It’s being described as a core RPG, not a “lighter” game like Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu. A mainline Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch should do ridiculously well.
There’s other big games on the way as well, with Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion 3 both set for 2019. Both are highly-anticipated games and while they definitely have some leeway in where they could drop Animal Crossing makes more sense as as summer title, say in July or August, while Luigi’s Mansion 3 should take the October slot.
One issue that Nintendo will be faced with is the increasing difficulty of getting third-party games to run well on the Switch. Sure, there are some high-profile titles announced, such as Mortal Kombat 11 or Doom Eternal, but these are the exceptions, not the rule. With an increasingly-crowded indie scene in dire need of curation and third-party titles not being a guarantee on the Switch, Nintendo’s first-party lineup remains the critical point. They have a wealth of older titles from the GameCube, Wii and Wii U that they can bring over and I fully expect them to leverage that library through remaster announcements.
There’s other, massive games for the Nintendo Switch that are still scarce on details. Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4 on the way but are still a ways off into the horizon. We’ll probably learn more about these games in 2019 but I wouldn’t expect to see either drop.
So, those are my thoughts on what what Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will (possibly) bring in 2019. Regardless of what systems you own, it’s looking to be a stellar year for gaming. If you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts.