PC gaming is constantly transforming in surprising ways. New genres rise and fall, games that are being ignored one day become global phenomena the next, and people like Microsoft now. (Having covered PC gaming through the Games for Windows Live and Windows 8 eras, that last fact still surprises me now and then.)
It's hard to predict exactly what's ahead. Some might say it's foolish to even try. But those same people might also say that I should stop trying to do elaborate Rocket League aerials that I'm obviously incapable of pulling off and instead just focus on hitting the ball into the net, and am I going to let that stop me from whiffing on nine out of ten shots? Absolutely not.
Once again, I've asked the PC Gamer team to gather all their videogame knowledge and gaze into the future Foundation-style. What will the fate of our high refresh rate empire be in 2022? Here are our best (or maybe just boldest) guesses:
We're finally getting Bloodborne on PC
If I keep saying it, it will happen. This is the year we're going to get Bloodborne, FromSoftware's bloodiest action game, on PC. Or at least an announcement. The year is already starting with the PC port of 2018's God of War. That's clearly a step towards releasing a much better game where you get to beat up a (werewolf) dad instead of playing one.
With Elden Ring releasing this year, it's time to let a lot more people play Bloodborne, even if it's not fully remade like the PlayStation 5 Demon's Souls. All Bloodborne needs is 60 fps and support for some high resolutions. It's a vital release that helped shape modern action games and it would be a crime not to have a semi-updated version of it. It's not even my favorite in the series, but it's a game I'm dying to play again. —Tyler Colp, Associate Editor
Sorry, Tyler. I've lost faith. The dream is dead, and will stay dead until we see a PS5 remaster. Only then will I dare to hope. —Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor
GTA 6 will be announced for 2023, and this time it'll launch on PC at the same time as consoles
2023 will be 10 years since GTA 5, and that seems like the right amount of time to bash out another GTA game, or at least get close enough to announce it officially. There have certainly been enough rumors flying around, so maybe this prediction isn't all that wild, but I think we'll get our first trailer in time for E3.
I predict a return to the southern US, but not just a new Vice City standing in for Miami. The map will cover all of Florida this time, which is ripe for Rockstar's satirical takes on American culture. You'll have a city standing in for Orlando (theme parks ahoy), Kennedy Space Center (where you can steal a space shuttle), the everglades for wildlife and airboating, the panhandle for rural backwoods areas, Boca Raton (rich people retire there), and hey, why not throw in Cuba and the Bahamas off the coast? GTA 6 will be full of sun, sand, and southerners. Maybe. And if you insist I get bold with this prediction: it'll actually launch on PC at the same time as consoles this time. For real. —Christopher Livingston, Features Producer
Someone will come up with a gaming application for the blockchain that's actually interesting
In my two decades and change of covering gaming, I don't think there's been a single topic that's generated more conversation (mostly one-way, from the evangelists straight to my recycle bin) than the bloody blockchain. Given the sheer amount of superheated air around the subject, I have to believe that at some point, someone, somewhere is going to find a use for the technology that the rest of us will actually be intrigued by. Thus far, all we seem to hear is how items will be able to persist and travel between different games, despite there being scarcely any evidence that this is a thing players truly need or want. Still… Maybe, eh!
Note this is not an invite to send me more email on the subject. I'm very comfortable with being last to the party on this one. —Tim Clark, Brand Director
The NFT hype will be over by December
There's something to NFTs. Our collections of digital stuff (Steam games, Destiny 2 outfits, etc) are huge and fragmented, and we truly "own" very little—just the DRM-free GOG games and Bandcamp songs we've downloaded. I don't hate the idea of consolidating all my virtual things into one wallet and, say, being able to trade Rainbow Six Siege skins for Rocket League decals on an independent marketplace. If it doesn't involve GPU furnaces, it could be alright.
Or it could be terrible. Who knows? There's barely been any time to think through the uses for or consequences of NFTs. Industry execs have just been saying what they always say about new tech—stuff like "this is a technology that's coming" and "we can't ignore it," which is what Ubisoft said about 3DTVs in 2010—and none of the wishful speculation from blockchain evangelists has convinced me that NFTs are really going to transform gaming in the near future.
The term "play-to-earn" was made up without an actual trend for it to describe, and there are a ton of barriers to realizing the decentralized marketplace I suggested. Most game publishers have thus far worked to prevent players from exchanging in-game items for currency, at least outside of their platforms, and Valve actually got in a bit of legal trouble over third-party CS:GO skin gambling sites. Right now, Valve doesn't allow Steam games to include functionality for exchanging NFTs, and Apple is fighting the hell out of every company that challenges its control over iOS transactions (most notably Epic Games). This isn't something that's just going to be shoved into place with meme power.
The NFT talk is mostly vapor right now, and at the speed things move at these days, I suspect that the value of ape drawings will have corrected itself by December 2022, and we'll be talking about Starfield by then, not fungibility and tokens. (If I'm making a risky prediction here, it's that Starfield won't be delayed to February 2022.) —Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
Another Nintendo genre will boom on PC
Ever since Stardew Valley kicked off a slew of other Harvest Moon-inspired farming simulations on PC, I've been waiting for the next surprise hit. In the last five years, there have been a couple other genres usually relegated to Nintendo systems that seemed like they might make waves on PC. Pokemon-like creature collectors Ooblets and Temtem didn't quite catch fire. Animal Crossing-inspired Cozy Grove is lovely, but not a sensation. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl wasn't a worthy Super Smash Bros. contender and the Warner Bros. Smash-alike MultiVersus is still upcoming.
I think 2022 is the year we finally see another traditional Nintendo genre leap to PC with a surprise hit. But which one? Maybe we'll finally see a breakout Smash-alike or creature catcher or social sim. Maybe it will be a Mario Party-like boardgame and minigame mashup. What if, somehow, a peripheral piece of hardware catches on and we're suddenly drowning in Wii Sports-alikes on PC? — Lauren Morton, Associate Editor
Neither Starfield nor the next Mass Effect will be what people expect
After an ad campaign focused on science-based space travel and relatively hard sci-fi, Starfield will turn out to be about a chosen one who has some kind of special powers. On the other hand, it'll be both stable and almost bug-free at launch.
After a teaser suggesting the return of characters from the original trilogy and a focus on Shepherd's legacy, a full reveal and trailer of the next Mass Effect (release date: way off) will show there's way more Mass Effect Andromeda in its DNA than anyone thought. It'll be an attempt to unify the two storylines, to the vocal disdain of Andromeda's haters. —Jody Macgregor, AU/Weekend Editor
Your Steam Decks will be gathering dust this time next year
A handheld PC built by Valve seems like just what I need right now, as I find myself gaming a lot more on the sofa to escape my office. But when I think about the PC games I love, they're often things where I really want to be sitting up straight and at a desk. How else would you pore over a map of medieval Europe? The games I imagine the Steam Deck being best suited for are, in many cases, already on existing handhelds, which I already own.
Even though it probably won't be the optimal experience, there are still plenty of games I'd love to muck around on while away from my PC, but I'm going to have to be ruthless about what I keep on the device. With a 512GB SSD on the priciest version, I'll be running low on space constantly. And when I look at the physical size of the thing, and the beefy price tag, I also start to wonder if I'd really want to risk taking it out of the flat that often.
For me—and I think a lot of you, too—it's probably going to end up being a streaming device, using Remote Play while the game runs on my PC in the other room. It's going to be a secondary device. And that's why I don't see it really having much of an impact. It's like VR, cloud gaming and Steam Link: pitched as ambitious game-changers, but in reality just back-ups when you wanted a change from sitting in front of your main device. I got rid of my Steam Link, but I still use the app version on my Shield TV, and both cloud gaming and VR continue to do their thing, but it's also really easy to forget they exist for months and months. Steam Deck is going to share the same fate. —Fraser Brown, Online Editor
But, hear me out, what if the opposite of that happens, 2022 turns out to be the year of the Steam Deck, and we're all still using them when it's over? —Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor