Throughout this year, the narrative has been that while Xbox suffered a bunch of high profile delays, and PlayStation got to put out some big hits, that 2023 would finally be Xbox’s year in the Series X/S generation. While it won Metacritic publisher of the year in 2021, it has still missed those big, blockbuster, GOTY-level entries that rivals like Sony and Nintendo have had, and that should be changing.
However, despite 2023 turning out some potentially big games for Xbox, it feels like PlayStation could end up having as big of a year, if not a bigger one, anyway. I’m not talking about console sales. That one is already a given because PS5 supply is up, and that will only help increase its existing lead over Xbox consoles. I’m talking about exclusives.
This depends on a few different things, however, and which exclusive perform, and which ones actually make it out on time. There is one scenario where this sort of falls apart for PlayStation, and I’ll get to that in a bit.
The Xbox Heavies – Forza Motorsport, Redfall, Starfield – These are the biggest Xbox exclusives of this coming year, and given that Redfall and Starfield were already delayed out of 2022, I fully believe that they will all make it out in 2023, which I cannot say for all of PlayStation’s offerings. Everyone gets mad at me when I say that Forza games, while very good, are a relative niche compared to larger AAA offerings, but to a certain extent, that’s true. But it’s also true that it’s going to be a great game, essentially guaranteed.
Redfall, meanwhile, has a lot to prove. While Arkane always makes solid games, early footage did not look amazing and we’ve seen perilously little from it so far. A recent interview has its creative director pitching it as Arkane’s take on Far Cry, which I think is actually a turn off for many players at this point. That said, I am leaning toward this pulling it out and being a solid offering, given Arkane’s past. But it still feels a bit risky.
Starfield is doing everything possible to avoid Cyberpunk 2077 syndrome, and so long as it doesn’t launch totally broken, I have a feeling it will perform as well, or better, than any mainline Bethesda game, and will be a likely GOTY contender. Others may have less faith, but I do think it has the potential to be massive, and it seems like they’ve given it the time it needs. It may not make it out until fall, however.
The PS5 Heavies – Forspoken, Final Fantasy XVI, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – Obviously, Sony is relying heavily on its relationship with Square Enix here, who thankfully has not yet gone too deep into their new blockchain obsession and are still making actual video games. Video games that are PlayStation console exclusives because of their longstanding relationship with Sony.
Forspoken feels like the biggest gamble here, a game that was widely mocked for some of its dialogue in early trailers, but gameplay itself has looked pretty incredible. Final Fantasy XVI is due out this summer and is unlikely to be delayed into next year, I’d say, and any mainline FF game is going to do extremely well, without question, no real risk attached there.
But the biggest thing on the list is easily Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from Insomnia. I’m not sure people understand just how well Insomniac’s Spider-Man (and Miles Morales) have done for Sony. The first Spider-Man was the best-selling PS4 game with 20 million copies sold, beating out even God of War, Uncharted 4, The Witcher 3, The Last of Us Part 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn. We obviously don’t have full PS5 numbers yet, but Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the top download on Sony’s digital store last year. It’s a stellar game starring one of the best-known characters in the world, and a sequel is going to do monstrously well. Better than most people realize. The main question is whether or not Spider-Man will actually hit its fall 2023 release date, or if it will be delayed into 2024.
That’s really the ultimate question here. A year where Forspoken bombs, Final Fantasy is just okay and Spider-Man is delayed until 2023 would favor an Xbox which puts out Forza, Redfall and Starfield in a year and those all do well. But if Forspoken and Final Fantasy perform, and Spider-Man 2 does make it out this year, even with a monster like Starfield coming to Xbox, I still think that ultimately this would be Sony’s year.
Except, of course, when Nintendo ruins everyone with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.