2020 has been a challenging year for us all. Even so, the Covid-19 global pandemic has thrown a wrench into a significant number of plans publishers had in store for 2020. As the industry shifts to work from home, the normal delays and development hells intensify with each passing month. Over the many years, the average game takes to become a finished product, teams can hit a variety of bumps in the road. Especially this year with the challenges facing all of us in 2020. It is nearly a miracle we got as many games as we did. Not to mention two new console launches, plus the first Half-Life game in 13 years. Be that as it may, there were a significant number of games missing from the canceled 2020 events. We have narrowed down the best of the best.
Sony Japan’s Team Siren/Team Gravity
Sony Japan Studio is responsible for assisting in the development, in some way shape or form, on 21 PlayStation 4 games. They are off to a great start this generation by having their names attached to both Demon’s Souls and Astro’s PlayRoom for the PS5 launch. Notwithstanding, there are entire other sets of teams in Sony Japan Studios. One of the teams that have become more popular is the team behind PS4 hit Gravity Rush 2.
The same team is also responsible for Siren and Siren 2 from the PlayStation 2 era. Sony’s attempt at recreating the magic behind Silent Hill with its original director Keiichiro Toyama. That’s where this story gets interesting. Known horror game leakers that have nailed Resident Evil 3 and Resident Evil: Village details, months in advance are also claiming to have insider knowledge on the next game from Team Siren.
They claim a Silent Hill reboot is in the works over at Sony Japan, led by some of the original team. To add to that, a number of previous Silent Hill team members have been making suspicious tweets. As well as Konami announcing a new division to license out its gaming properties. There is too much smoke here for there not to be a fire. Also, if not Silent Hill, what is Team Siren working on anyway? Come January 2021, it will have been four years past the Gravity Rush 2 release date. If video games were baseball, Team Siren would be on deck.
If Team Siren was working on a horror game Silent Hill or not, they will not market it alongside Resident Evil: Village. A game Sony has a serious partnership with. I also suspect Sony wanted to show God of War: Ragnarok this year because they feel strongly enough about their other major titles to be revealed in 2021. With a large number of SIE first-party teams putting new games out in 2018-2020 this makes whatever team Siren is working on a potential flagship title for Sony. As well as one of the most interesting games missing from 2020.
Sonic The Hedgehog
A lot of crazy things have happened in gaming this year. It may seem like a lifetime ago but, this past February the Sonic The Hedgehog movie launched in theaters to fairly positive feedback from the community. That’s not the crazy part. Around the time of the movie’s release, the official Sonic The Hedgehog Twitter account teased an announcement would be coming once a month from Sega. That tweet has since been deleted and the social media mastermind behind the Sonic account stepped down during the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak.
What followed was a Game Gear mini console, that would launch only in Japan. A collection of new Sonic Funko Pops! As well as, Phantasy Star Online DLC. There seems to be a handful of announcements missing. Creating speculation that both a follow up to Sonic Mania and a new mainline Sonic game could be in the works. Takashi Iizuka, Team Sonic Head threw fuel on the fire by saying, “2017 was a big year for Sonic… The next big year for Sonic is 2021. That’s the 30-year anniversary for Sonic. We are now preparing.” Of course, 2017 had the release of Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces. Sega is well overdue to publish something for its iconic mascot.
Babylon’s Fall was originally announced back at the 2018 E3 convention with a summer 2019 release date. The game would fall off the face of the earth for over a year only to reappear during the PlayStation State of Play in December 2019. While this time showing gameplay footage there was still no commitment to a release date. Only a trailer that ended on a note that a follow up would not come until summer 2020. In February 2020, we had the chance to sit down and speak with the heads at Platinum Games who for some reason, had begun working on other projects. They assured us that the game was still in development but, they were unable to make any specific comments.
The next time we would hear about the game would be in July. Where the team would announce that development is still in progress. Yet they had transitioned to work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak. During a console generation transition, a game can get delayed into the next console cycle without targeting that hardware. It compounds the delay even further when the team now has to account for that hardware. With a target release of summer 2019, it’s unlikely Platinum Games had even early hypothetical PS5 hardware.
With Sony marketing the title, it’s very likely a delay was compounded with a shift to target PS5 hardware. Maybe we will see Babylon’s Fall again in 2021. I have serious doubts the game will release in 2021. It’s been completely absent from the PS5 marketing cycle. Excluding this strange image that Square Enix posted for its 2020 Tokyo Game Show lineup that included the game. Only to never actually show it during the event. Babylon’s Fall could be in development hell right now.
Compulsion Games New Title
Compulsion Games has released two smaller games, with each one growing larger in scale. Starting with Contrast, one of the first indie titles to land on the PS4. Followed by We Happy Few, a game that could never quite live up to the hype generated by publisher Gearbox. Yet they did impress some people in the industry. Enough to get Microsoft to acquire the studio in 2018.
In January 2020, Community Developer Naila Hadjas let it slip on the Iron Lords Podcast that the next Compulsion game would be third-person. Whatever it is that they are working on, it impressed Phil Spencer so much that he moved the team to a larger studio and more than doubled its staff. In 2021 their new project could be entering year three of development. They should be far along enough to show something soon. Their absence from the number of Microsoft events this year makes their next game one of the top missing games from 2020.
The Initiative’s Unannounced Title
The Initiative is a new studio built from the ground up by Microsoft to compete with Sony’s big-budget “AAAA” mega-hits like God of War and The Last of Us. Microsoft has spared no expense in building a talented team of developers from high caliber games. The Initiative is on the fast track to become the top studio over at Microsoft. We just don’t know exactly what it is they are working on. Although Xbox head Phil Spender tweeted out that they are working on both something new and something old. Clearly, they are working on something in the realm of Xbox IP’s. Also, it’s possible from this tweet that it could be two games.
It’s very unlikely that they are working on a new Sneakers, Brute Force, Viva Pinata, or NFL Fever game. So that leaves us with games like Perfect Dark and Mechassault. Jeff Grub over at VentureBeat has done tremendous work detailing everything he has discovered about the new project at The Initiative. Jeff has helped narrow down the list of what they could be working on. For those hoping for a new mainline Perfect Dark game, you may want to realign expectations.
“The Initiative is dabbling with the Perfect Dark universe for its upcoming game, according to sources familiar with the project. What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that it is a new Perfect Dark game. And it may not even take place in the same universe or star the same characters. So don’t expect a game about Joanna Dark, but maybe elements of her game could show up in The Initiative’s project.”
Elden Ring might be the most sought after game on this list. Originally announced during the 2019 Xbox E3 press conference Elden Ring is a collaboration between FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin. The creators of Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Game of Thrones working on the same project? A match made in heaven for medieval fantasy enthusiasts habitually looking for a bad time.
Elden Ring might be another game that falls victim to cross-console generation delays. Development on Elden Ring started sometime in 2017 after the March release of the Dark Souls 3 DLC. So if development was hitting significant milestones in 2019 the team may have had to shift gears and target new platforms.
Elden Ring was a big part of Microsoft’s marketing push in 2019. As well as Sony’s canceled 2020 trade shows. With that, we are looking at one of the most important games of the console generation hitting major roadblocks with Covid-19 work from home orders. In addition to platform shifts right as they were nearing the finish line. Counting the celebrity hype around Elden Ring, a place to get a real substantial update could be The Game Awards this year. Surely by the end of whatever E3 2021 will be, we should know more. All of the hype around Elden Ring one of the top games missing from 2020.
Breath of the Wild Sequel
During Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Presentation we got a first look at a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This March saw the first games three-year anniversary come and go with no new updates. Followed by an entire year of Nintendo making smaller announcements over Twitter and “Partner Directs.” It’s clear that Nintendo has been impacted by Covid-19 more than they let on. The game appearing in June of 2019 makes me think their intentions rested on a 2020 release.
Another major factor impeding Nintendo from putting the game out could have been the availability of the console. For almost six months many regions were unable to secure Nintendo Switch consoles. Leaving Nintendo in a position where releasing a major game could be problematic. The inability to sell consoles could have discouraged Nintendo from releasing the sequel even if it was close to being ready.
With that said there are new rumors of a 4K Switch console coming in early 2021. There would be no better way to release a Switch hardware upgrade than with a new Zelda title. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had an unbelievable attach rate when the Switch launched in 2017. A nearly one to one match of Switch owners bought Breath of the Wild with the console. There is a good chance that Nintendo could try to make that happen again.
Ghost Story Games New Title
In 2017 Bioshock creator Ken Levine went out on his own and formed a new team to work on a brand new IP. While still under the umbrella of Take-Two Interactive, the team began working on a First-Person-Strategy-RPG-Shooter. Job postings describe a brand new Sci-Fi immersive sim by the creators of Bioshock and System Shock 2. Currently, the team sits at around 35 people that reside in the Boston area.
Over the past 3 years, Ken Levine has commented on the game. Back in 2017, he described the game he was working on as a narrative game with replayability. Something Levine spoke about during his 2014 GDC talk on building narrative.
“You spent five years on a game which people finish in a weekend . . . I’m really envious of games like Civilization which I’ve played for a very long time. A lot of games now are built to maintain a long relationship with the gamer. My games haven’t really had that. So this appealed to me.“
It sounds like the team is building something new, fresh, and ambitious. Take-Two has also pivoted its marketing strategy to not show their games until they are closer to release. It could be some time before the team is ready to show the game. Although by 2021 it will have been four years in development. What we might see, is if one of the console manufacturers falls in love with the game. That could lead to a marketing partnership. Outside of that, it could be another year or two.
Street Fighter VI
Word first hit of a possible new mainline Street Fighter title when Capcom announced the winner of the 2020 Capcom Cup would not auto-qualify for the 2021 competition. Capcom had done this in previous years only when a new title would be headlining the event. This lined up with new hardware launches lacking an announced fighting game.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Earlier this year a Capcom leaker with a solid track record posted on Twitter that Street Fighter VI could be in trouble. It’s pretty easy to brush these comments off as meaningless, especially when Street Fighter VI is not even announced yet. Until Capcom released the Street Fighter brand manager, producer, and face of the franchise. Giving credence to the rumors that the game was in trouble.
While it sounds like Capcom had planned for us to be playing Street Fighter VI sometime in early 2021. Given their ambitious claims on their sales projections for Q1 2021. It appears that is no longer the case. Although, without a major slip, there is still a good chance Street Fighter VI gets announced in 2021. How close yet how far away Street Fighter VI could be makes it one of the more interesting games missing from 2020.
Follow Up To Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
In the summer of 2017, we got blown away by an unlikely partnership between Ubisoft and Nintendo. The end result gave us a fantastic strategy game to play during the first months of the Switch’s release. As well as the image of Miyamoto holding a blaster. The game did see substantial growth through DLC and a Gold Edition re-release. Although, in three years we have not heard from the team. As well as what the future holds for the franchise.
Ubisoft Milan seems very attached to the title on their social media accounts. Plus a follow-up just makes too much sense. Maybe not another strategy game but, another game in that universe just feels right. They could be waiting for the potential 4K Switch. We should hear from Ubisoft Milan soon. Ubisoft is not going to let them go much more than four years without putting out a new title. You have to imagine this is Ubisoft’s flagship Nintendo team. Making it one of the most important Switch games missing from 2020.