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How can we commemorate 2023 in gaming?


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It’s time! We have published our ranking of the top 20 games of 2023. This year has offered an abundance of amazing options to choose from, and our list showcases the diversity of these offerings. Many media outlets and players seem to have split into three groups: those who prefer Baldur’s Gate, Zelda, or Alan Wake 2. Each of these choices would make a deserving Game of the Year. Ultimately, you must follow your heart. Take a look and see if our rankings match your own feelings.

Be on the lookout for our list of games you may have missed tomorrow. Our team of critics will be recommending over 30 additional games. If you want to share your favorite games of 2023 and your most anticipated games of 2024, you can reply to this newsletter. We will be publishing your responses next week.

I will be temporarily stepping away from my role at the Guardian for a couple of weeks to focus on writing a book about video games. Although we have not reached the end of 2023, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for reading Pushing Buttons and for your valuable feedback. Writing this newsletter has been a fulfilling part of my job for the past two years.

In the meantime: it’s been a huge year for good games, and a consequential one for games news too. Here’s a refresher on the biggest stories of the year.

The gaming industry experiences a decline due to the aftermath of the pandemic.

EA. Niantic. Bungie. Epic Games. Embracer. Creative Assembly. Barely a week went by this year without news of more developer layoffs, or even whole studio closures. When everybody was stuck inside during the pandemic, gaming experienced an unprecedented boom. Companies went on hiring and acquisition sprees that have proven unsustainable. Thousands of people have been laid off this year. 2023 will be remembered for this duality: one of the best years ever for players, and one of the worst ever for workers.

Artificial Intelligence is causing discomfort and uneasiness in all areas.

To predict future concerns, one can often examine current issues within the video game industry. This was evident with the rise of Gamergate and the radicalization of young men who spend a lot of time online. There were also worries about the commercialization and exploitation of virtual communities, and now the looming threat of AI. Many creators in the gaming industry have voiced their concerns about the potential impact of AI on their jobs, while some executives see it as a way to alleviate the pressures of large-scale projects. As gaming companies tend to be early adopters of new technologies, it is likely that we will soon witness the first successes or controversies involving AI in the gaming world.

Microsoft finally buys Activision Blizzard

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, an Activision Blizzard game.

In January 2022, Microsoft declared its plan to acquire Activision Blizzard, which would result in ownership of popular games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. Additionally, the purchase would give Microsoft access to the mobile gaming market through King, the developer of Candy Crush and other titles. The acquisition faced initial opposition from UK regulators and underwent extensive review by authorities in the US. This process inadvertently revealed information about the Xbox and PlayStation businesses through court documents. The deal was ultimately finalized in October, and now we will see if Microsoft’s purchase will lead them to success.

in App Store trial

Epic Games has emerged victorious in a legal battle against Google over the distribution of its popular game Fortnite on the App Store.

Very few companies have the ability to make Epic Games, the creator of the multibillion-dollar game Fortnite, appear small compared to them. However, in comparison to Google, one of the largest entities in the gaming industry, Epic is like a small fish. The unexpected win for Epic against Google in US courts, where they were suing for anti-monopoly violations, could have significant consequences in the coming year.

The spell of creating video game adaptations was broken.

The Super Mario Movie may not have been the greatest (trust me, I watched it three times), but it did well enough to rank as the third highest-grossing animated film ever. The Last of Us has now been adapted into a highly acclaimed HBO series. There are countless more adaptations in progress. For over ten years, there have been disappointing adaptations of video games for both the big and small screens – but things are finally changing.

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The highly anticipated release of Grand Theft Auto VI has been revealed.

GTA 6.

It has been a decade since Rockstar unveiled Grand Theft Auto V! In the past, we received GTA III, San Andreas, and Vice City within a short span of time, along with some overlooked PSP versions. After much anticipation and information leaks, Rockstar finally revealed their latest project.

Unity screws up

The CEO of video game technology company Unity, John Riccitiello, taught us a lesson in pride when the organization tried to change the terms for developers using its game engine without consulting them. This caused many developers to speak out against the exploitative nature of the decision. As a result, there was a reversal of this decision and Riccitiello left the company abruptly. This serves as a reminder to the corporate leaders in the gaming industry that it is not wise to anger the actual creators in a field driven by creativity.

The competition for subscriptions is intensifying.

Reworded: Despite subscription services not yet being a dominant force in the gaming industry, with only about 3.5% of overall gaming revenue this year according to Statista, the competition to become the gaming equivalent of Netflix continues. With the recent shutdown of Google Stadia, the main contenders for this title are Microsoft’s Game Pass, Sony’s PlayStation Plus, and surprisingly, Netflix, which has been steadily expanding its impressive collection of games and partnerships.

The E3 event has concluded permanently.

Unfortunately, E3, the largest gaming event, has come to an end. Despite multiple attempts to revive it during the pandemic, the convention that has been a major highlight of the gaming industry since the 1990s is no longer happening. What will we do in June without it?

We will discover the answer in the upcoming summer. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays!

Ignore the newsletter advertisement.

What to play

Open-world adventure Tchia.

Our game critic, Lewis Gordon, has picked a family-friendly option from our list of “must-play” games that may have gone unnoticed: Tchia. In this open-world game, players have the freedom to discover a Pacific island in their own way – whether it be running, climbing, swimming, or using the unique “soul-jump” feature. With just the press of a button, players can possess various objects and creatures such as fish, birds, rocks, and lanterns, each with their own distinct movements. This mechanic adds a joyful and limitless aspect to the game’s locomotion.

, Xbox One and Series X

This product can be accessed on various devices, including PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X.

Estimated time for playing: 7-10 hours

What to read

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
  • A massive amount of information from Insomniac Games has been leaked, uncovering plans for numerous Marvel games to be released in the next ten years through hacked documents.

  • Naughty Dog has decided to cancel The Last of Us Online, the multiplayer mode of its popular survival franchise that has been in the works for several years. The studio explained that it had to choose between dedicating all its efforts to maintaining an online game for an extended period or staying committed to creating critically acclaimed single-player games.

  • Valve is once again requesting that you refrain from inhaling the vapors emitted by your Steam Deck. While the scent may be tempting, it is not beneficial for your health.

  • James McCaffrey, who was known for his role as Max Payne in video games like Alan Wake 2 and other titles developed by Remedy, has passed away at the age of 65. In addition to his work as a voice actor, he was also a film and television performer. Remedy released a statement expressing their sadness and acknowledging McCaffrey’s talent and impact on the gaming community. They also extended their condolences to his loved ones.

What to click

The 20 best video games of 2023

12 Top Board Games for Festive Holiday Gatherings: Nativity-Themed Edition

Review of the Analogue Duo – a retro console based on the PC Engine designed for purists.

Review of House Flipper 2 – an addictive and calming game about renovating homes.

Hopefully, Epic’s victory in the antitrust case against Google will be the first of many for tech companies. This was written by John Naughton.

Question Block

Elden Ring.

Reader Luc has been asking a common question among Pushing Buttons readers: “What are your plans for your backlog of games by 2024? Will you decrease it or will it continue to grow until it becomes self-aware and plays itself?”

Ah yes, the pile of shame: all those unplayed games, silently judging us from our Steam libraries or, if you’re old-school, their DVD cases. At this point mine stretches back to at least 2010. I still haven’t played Elden Ring.

If the extensive yet fulfilling games of recent years have overwhelmed you and your restricted free time, the positive update is that 2024 appears to be less busy in comparison. However, in 2025, we will all likely lose our leisure time to GTA VI. Therefore, this upcoming year presents an opportunity for me to make progress on my neglected list of games.

If you have any inquiries for Question Block or any other comments regarding the newsletter, please reply to this email or contact us at [email protected].

Source: theguardian.com