With 2022 in the rearview mirror, now is the right time to revisit some of the major news topics that overshadowed everything else. The year started with major news with multiple acquisitions across the board. Microsoft shared its intent to acquire Activision Blizzard in January 2020 followed by Sony announcing its intent to acquire former Halo and currently Destiny 2 developer, Bungie.
Just weeks later, another major geopolitical incident took place that sent shock-waves across the world. Yes, we are referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This major development prompted governments and companies across the world to take actions against Russia.
Later in the year, we saw some major developments in the gaming space, including multiple Embracer Group acquisitions, Sony revamping its PlayStation Plus video game subscription service, and more. Other important news stories included Netflix going all in on gaming, along with the reveal of future Assassin’s Creed games. However, a monumental leak around GTA 6 overtook the conversation across the globe.
We also saw the split between Electronic Arts (EA) and FIFA, along with the launch of the final FIFA title by EA, FIFA 2023. Some bit of hardware news also dictated the online discourse with the launch of Steam Deck by Valve, the owner of Steam, the popular video game distribution platform.
Looking back home in India, we saw two major events including the ban of popular smartphone Battle Royale game, Battlegrounds Mobile India. Months after the launch, just at the end of 2022, we saw an announcement from the government of India recognizing esports in the “multisports events” category.
Considering the range of important topics across a whole range of things, let’s dig a bit further. Here are the most important news developments that took place in the gaming space in 2022 as per India.
1. Ukraine War and the impact on gaming and esports
The year started with a serious geopolitical incident where Russia launched its invasion on Ukraine. This sent major shockwaves across the globe, with almost everyone unanimously condemning the act. However, the war is still on, even after more than 10 months of combat and losses.
Just days after the invasion, everyone — right from governments to major tech, gaming companies and esports organizations — took major steps in boycotting Russia. The steps included supporting and donating to Ukraine, cutting services to Russia, closing offices based in Russia, cancelling esports events and a lot more.
2. GTA 6 leak
Video game leaks have not been a new phenomenon as the internet gained prominence. In fact, the prominent leaks range back to 1996 when EA accidentally placed the source code of FIFA 1997 on the demo disc of the game. We have seen a lot of leaks in the lead-up to the launch of the games, and it is nothing out of the ordinary. However, what makes the GTA 6 leak monumental and different is both the scope as well as the timing of the leak. The game is nowhere near ready, with no official launch date (or even year) in the public.
Considering the amount of effort that goes in developing a major game like Grand Theft Auto 6, even leakers have a code of honour. Several leakers have outlined that they won’t share the information that early in the development cycle because of respect for the work involved. 2K and Rockstar Games acknowledged the leak hours later, resulting in criminal proceedings and an arrest.
3. Microsoft Activision Deal
As we outlined at the start, the year started with Microsoft announcing its intent to acquire major video game developer and publisher, Activision Blizzard King (ABK). If, and when completed, it will be the largest acquisition in the video game industry at about $68.8 billion.
The proposal is currently under scrutiny from multiple regulatory bodies across the globe. Microsoft is expecting a legal battle in some countries like the USA, with Sony pushing hard to stop the deal. As of now, Brazil, Chile, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia have approved the acquisition. The company already outlined its expectations for the deal to close by the middle of 2023 as part of its initial announcement.
4. Embracer Group purchases
Sweden-based Video game and media holding company, Embracer Group, cropped up on the global radar with multiple acquisitions in 2022. The list of acquisitions and deals that took place this year includes Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal, Square Enix Montreal, Bitwave Games, Limited Run Games, Gioteck, Tripwire Interactive, Singtrix, Tuxedo Labs, Tatsujin co, Anime Limited, and more.
The company also established Embracer Games Archive in May 2022 to push video game preservation. This is a great move, and the preservation library currently holds more than 50,000 games.
5. Steam Deck finally launched
Steam Deck is one of the major hardware launches for the year, and it came out of nowhere. Valve, the owner of popular game distribution platform Steam, finally launched the much-anticipated hand-held gaming device in February 2022 after an announcement back in July 2021. Over the year, the company has continued to launch multiple software updates while working with game developers to offer and improve upon a transformative PC gaming experience. The console is currently available without waitlists in select countries across the globe.
6. Sony buys Bungie
Sony Interactive Entertainment also joined the list of major corporations acquiring and consolidating the video games industry with its Bungie acquisition. Compared to other acquisitions in the list, this one went without any hitch for about $3.6 billion. Bungie is currently working on a live services title for Sony.
7. PS Plus revamp
Sony also launched the revamp of PlayStation Plus (PS Plus), its existing video games subscription service of its PlayStation line-up of consoles. The revamp landed in June 2022, almost half a year after the initial rumours. It divided the service in multiple tiers including PS Plus Essential, Extra, Deluxe, and Premium. Sony also added some new aspects to the service including playable game demos, its cloud gaming streaming service, PS Now and more to take on Microsoft Xbox Game Pass.
8. Netflix goes all in on games
Netflix Games had long been in the making, with the first formal announcement back in July 2021. The video streaming giant started limited testing with Stranger Things 3: The Game last year. After some more tests and some game studio acquisitions, the company launched the service towards the end of 2021 on Android and iOS. Then, 2022 was the year when we finally saw the streaming giant go all in. Netflix acquired game developers including Next Games, Boss Fight Entertainment, and Spry Fox this year.
Netflix also opened its first mobile game studio in Finland in September 2022. Just weeks later, it opened its fifth studio in California in October, along with regular game launches on its platform throughout the year. Till now, the company has launched 35 games on Netflix Games, with 55 more in development.
9. Assassin’s Creed future titles
Almost two years after the launch of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft finally shared some details at its annual game showcase event, Ubisoft Forward, in September 2022. As part of the announcement, the company revealed that it is working on Assassin’s Creed Mirage, the next big entry in the long-running franchise. In addition, the company is also working on “Codename Jade”, a mobile game from the franchise.
Ubisoft also announced that it is working on a live-service game with the name “Assassin’s Creed Infinity”. This live service game is supposed to tie future Assassin’s Creed games together. Other Assassin’s Creed titles announced at the event include “Codename Red” that will bring the franchise to fedual Japan, and “Codename Hexe” which will be “a very different type” of game. With 5 Assassin’s Creed games in development, the future of the franchise looks bright.
10. EA and FIFA break-up and FIFA 2023 launch
This one may not be as significant as other entries in this list. But this development certainly is notable, as it makes a major change for FIFA video game fans. FIFA and EA announced in May 2022 that they will go their separate ways after failing to reach an agreement on licensing feeds on the FIFA name. This decision has brought an end to a nearly 30-year partnership between FIFA and EA. For some context, EA launched the first FIFA game, FIFA International Soccer, back in December 1993.
EA will continue to make football games, but it will rename the future games as “EA Sports FC”. FIFA on the other hand plans to sign up a new developer to make future FIFA games. EA also launched its last FIFA title, FIFA 23 in September 2022.
Developments in India:
A little over one year after the launch of Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the Indian Government banned the game in July 2022. Though expected given the geopolitical situation, this came as a shock to the mobile gaming and esports community across the country. Right around the ban of the game, the game had crossed 100 million downloads on Google Play Store. The real figure with iOS and direct APK downloads through third-party app stores is likely to be higher.
This decision has irrevocably impacted on the state and potential growth of the esports industry in the country. In addition, it has also impacted the profits of Krafton, the South Korea-based game publisher behind BGMI. However, rumours of the game making a return in January 2023 have picked up steam towards the end of the year.
Esports part of multi-sports event
Finally, this came just days before the end of 2022, and it may likely be one of the most impactful developments. The President of India has directed to amend the Government of India Rules from 1961 around “online gaming” and “e-Sports”. As per this amendment, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) will handle “Matters relating to online gaming”.
In addition, Government of India has categorized “e-Sports as part of multi-sports events” under Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport. However, there is a lot that has not been clarified in this Gazette Notification. India has reached out to the government is yet to hear about the impact of this move, future plans, or what “multi-sports events” mean any more.