2020 saw a sharp increase in overall consumer gameplay, as the entire world was stuck indoors due to the pandemic. Now that 2020 is gone and people are slowly reestablishing their lives outside the house, games continue to reign supreme, and gaming companies are set to bring it as 2021 unfolds.
Four of the largest gaming companies, EA, Take-Two Interactive, Activision Blizzard, and Ubisoft, which comprised a $169.7 billion industry in 2020, are set to release some killer titles that should crush last year’s numbers.
Last year, Take-Two and Ubisoft were outperforming EA and Blizzard according to reports. From an investment perspective, Take-Two, creator of the outlandishly popular Grand Theft Auto franchise, had a profit margin that grew substantially over the past 10 years. This year Take-Two is looking to continue this trend, with plans to follow in the steps of larger competitors by “investing in esports, mobile games, and digital distribution, which generate a higher gross margin than physical goods.” The company plans to capitalize on the mobile front, as well as focus on what are called in-game microtransactions and multiplayer gameplay, to keep users engaged and hungry to spend money. Both Take-Two and Ubisoft’s larger competitors (Blizzard and EA) utilize such a model to rake in huge profits, so it is definitely in their interest to put a plan in place to capitalize on that space going forward.
But Ubisoft may not be prepared for this, as the France-based game company mainly focuses on single-player games. This makes it hard for them to take advantage of the multi-player, micro-profit strategy. Instead, their profits rely on users constantly buying new games. Such a flaw could potentially be a fatal one, but pressure from their competitors could lurch Ubisoft in the right direction in 2021.
On the product front, EA is ready with a new lineup of refreshed EA classics like Madden NFL 22, which is set to be released in August of this year. While it’s in the queue for release, NFL 21 which came out in August of 2020, sports an overall Steam score of 53% according to roughly 2,968 user reviews. Hopefully, EA can get that score up a little bit with NFL 22.
Take-Two is still going full bore with their ambitious 2020 plan to release 93 games in the next 5 years. Though ambitious, however, such a plan seems more like a marketing tactic to rely on sheer volume for units sold, and less in terms of in-game purchase, though games on the docket for release could indeed utilize this strategy, as well. If their plan works, Take-Two could potentially see large gains around Q4 going into 2022. With titles such as XCOM: Chimera Squad and Mafia: Definitive Edition, which received an overall 87% on Steam, it’s entirely possible for Take-Two’s plan to prove fruitful.
Blizzard’s BlizzCon 2021 proved that Blizzard is still in the game, with planned releases for this year such as Diablo II: Resurrected, whose predecessor Diablo II from 2000 holds steady with a consumer score of around 88%. Once the new installment comes out, Blizzard could see even more gains.
Ubisoft announces that they have plans to release 8 games in 2021, of which includes Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game, which was supposed to be released years ago but was delayed until now. So, Ubisoft could be in for an influx of consumer attention this year.
All in all, game companies seem to be playing their cards right for 2021 going into 2022, but considering Take-Two’s runaway hit with Grand Theft Auto, (which has been declared “the most popular game franchise in the western world” by Newzoo’s Game Franchise Consumer Insights service, by the way) mixed with their ambitious 93 games in 5 years plan, could it be that Take-Two is the studio to bet on for the winner of the best game release of 2021?