Bethesda’s open world space RPG Starfield is the latest major 2022 release to slip to next year. But will it be the last? Probably not. So who’s next? God of War Ragnarök? Bayonetta 3? Gotham Knights? This spring, traditionally the biggest release season of the year, remains an almost entirely blank slate, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon.
“We’ve made the decision to delay the launches of Redfall and Starfield to the first half of 2023,” Bethesda announced Thursday.
Sound familiar? Many large game companies have been making the same difficult decision lately.
“We’ve made the difficult decision to delay Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League to spring (autumn for Aussies) 2023,” creative director Sefton Clark tweeted in March.
A week later the same thing happened to Breath of the Wild 2.
“We have decided to extend our development time a bit and change the release to spring 2023,” series producer Eiji Aonuma said in a YouTube apology a week later.
All of these games were supposed to be part of a big fall game rush following several quieter years. Here’s where the holiday 2022 calendar for main releases currently stands:
Here’s what’s still slated for 2022 in theory but currently TBD:
- Bayonetta 3 | 2022 (Switch)
- Pokémon Violet and Scarlet | 2022 (Switch)
- Hogwarts Legacy | 2022 (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
- Scorn | October 2022, delayed from 2021 (PC, Xbox Series X/S)
- Marvel’s Midnight Suns | Late 2022, delayed from March 2022 (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch)
- God of War: Ragnarök | 2022, delayed from 2021 (PS4, PS5)
Some caveats. As you can see, a bunch of these games were already delayed at least once. Some just needed more development time in general. Others, like Stalker 2, suffered setbacks due to historic geopolitical events that include war crimes. All of them have no doubt been thrown at least a bit off schedule because of the global pandemic, the consequences of which continue to ripple through society in the form of ongoing console shortages, developers demanding work from home flexibility, and the fact that new COVID cases and deaths continue.
Then there’s the Cyberpunk element. With big live service games, no one wants to be the next Anthem. And with massive single player RPGs, nobody wants to relive what CD Projekt Red went through.
“Last spring before E3, I spoke to some folks on Starfield who were extremely worried about committing to a 11-11-22 date based on the progress they’d made so far,” Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier tweeted today. “(‘Next Cyberpunk’ was the term floated.)”
I’ve heard Ubisoft developers throw around the C-word in conversations about Skull and Bones’ delays as well. As much as we’ve come to talking approvingly about the huge turnarounds games like Final Fantasy XIV and No Man’s Sky saw in the years after launch, nobody wants to go through the cycle of crunch, ship, backlash, and then try to fix a broken game while also preparing new content for it.
Bethesda probably knows that better than most. Starfield will be its first major release since 2018’s Fallout 76, which was a mess upon relase and remains one of the company’s lowest rated games ever. A more recent example is Halo Infinite. For all the praise its single-player campaign got, its seasonal multiplayer is mired in controversy, and huge features like campaign coop are still MIA.
So where does that leave everything else? One theory is that God of War: Ragnarök will be the next pin to drop. Gotham Knights appears on track for October, but after a muted response to its latest big trailer reveal, it could probably stand some extra time in development, as well. Ubisoft hasn’t committed to any 2022 dates yet for its upcoming games, simply promising them before the end of the fiscal year in April 2023. In addition to Skull and Bones, that includes Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, the last of which seems the most likely to possibly fall into winter or beyond (the movie it’s tied to is due out in December).
And then there’s the rest. Marvel’s Midnight Suns isn’t quite a big-budget release, but relative to what’s left, it will certainly be one of the more notable games coming this fall (I’ve been told it’s in good shape and another delay seems unlikely). Scorn is also not your traditional blockbuster, but it is now set to be Microsoft’s only console exclusive in all of 2022, which is wild to think about (born of Kickstarter, the project’s most recent delay prompted some controversy and an apology on the part of the developer).
Of course, the second half of the year could come into much sharper focus after this summer’s Not-E3 festivities kick off in June. Maybe Nintendo will reveal a secret new fall game, or maybe God of War: Ragnarök will swoop in and take Starfield’s date. Or maybe, following Bethesda’s example, publishers and studios will be even more cautious about promising anything before it’s absolutely ready. Hopefully, whatever happens, they find a way to space things out. I don’t think I can handle another February like Elden Ring’s.