2021: the year of technology
When it comes to tech, the megatrends of 2021 were as much about what didn’t happen as what happened. One year after the start of the ninth generation of gaming consoles, the flagship story of the year is a shortage of chips which continued to cause headaches and supply tensions (without signs of relief for at least a year). Despite this, we have seen some exciting announcements and advancements that lay the groundwork for the next year and beyond. Here are the biggest tech stories of 2021.
The shortage of crisps
If you’ve tried buying one of the most popular gaming gadgets this year, you probably know those two words: “semiconductor shortage”. Global supply chain problems resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have limited the supply of components needed for high-end electronics around the world, causing manufacturing delays and production shortages on products from consumption at all levels. The repercussions of the shortage can be felt in everything from rising inflation to Final Fantasy XIV server queues, but PC graphics cards and the PS5 and Xbox Series X have been hit particularly hard, making it nearly impossible to find these big-ticket items at their advertised prices.
Sadly, there is no end in sight, as many industry leaders have said the chip shortage will last until 2022 and possibly 2023.
Ninth generation consoles: one year later
It’s been over a year since Microsoft and Sony launched a new generation of gaming consoles with the release of the Xbox x series and PS5, but they remain among the most sought after and hard to find gadgets on the market today. The continuing shortage of chips has reduced inventory, and when they hit digital store shelves, they are quickly snatched up by bots to be resold with a huge profit margin. Nevertheless, both consoles have sold big Numbers in their first year, and their future looks bright.
For the people who have managed to snag a console, we’ve seen a constant trickle of hardware and software improvements throughout the year. One of the biggest issues both consoles were criticized for at launch was the minimum size of internal storage, especially for the PS5, which only has 667GB of usable space and launched with no way to expand it. . Last summer, Sony finally rolled out a firmware update that allows PS5 owners to open their console and install their own M.2 SSD to expand storage. While it may seem intimidating to some, the process is fairly straightforward and there are plenty of SSD options available. Meanwhile, on Microsoft’s side, additional configurations for the proprietary storage expansion card have hit the market, giving Xbox Series X users more options to deal with a growing library of gaming installations.
Peripheral support also continues to grow. the The Xbox Design Lab is back, allowing people to create custom Xbox controllers with custom color schemes, rubber grips, and metallic finishes on the triggers and d-pad. The PS5 has also had some personality this year, as Sony rolled out a handful of new DualSense colorways and the console faceplate.
Still on Sony’s side, the PS5 finally has an answer to the Xbox Elite, thanks to third-party controller maker Scuf, who announced the Reflex Pro, a PS5 controller with remappable rear paddles, interchangeable controllers and customizable colors. It’s a welcome addition to the controller landscape, and we hope more companies will follow suit in 2022.
The revival of gaming handhelds
The Nintendo Switch mega-hit made sure handheld games were never really dead, but recently a handful of newcomers have entered the fold, each with their own distinct take on big-screen gaming.
Most notable is the Valve steam bridge, a portable gaming PC that will run SteamOS. When it does arrive, it promises to finally give PC gamers a way to take their game libraries on the go (or on the couch). Steam Deck was announced with a launch date for this holiday season, but that same chip shortage has dragged that date down to early 2022.
Steam Deck wasn’t the only exciting handheld of the year, however. The long awaited Analog pocket is a sleek handheld that plays Game Boy cartridges without emulation, and it finally launched its first wave of units in December. More are on the way, but – yes, because of the chip shortage again – they are now $ 20 more and will be shipped in waves on a first come, first serve basis: first in early 2022. , then at the end of 2022..
Finally, we have the Playdate, a quirky little handheld that you can charge with a mechanical crank on the side. It plays a selection of experimental and non-traditional games from notable indie developers. It was supposed to come out this year, but it was also postponed to 2022.
Regardless of the launch dates or their particular approaches, these new devices, alongside the continued success of the Switch and its all-new OLED model, are showing a real renaissance in the portable gaming space.
Cloud Gaming is making major progress
Cloud gaming is nothing new, but 2021 has seen this emerging technology make major strides.
In October, Nvidia announced a new level of subscription for its GeForce Now platform which effectively allows you to rent a PC with an RTX 3080. While cloud gaming always has its share of problems, accessing this level of power is welcome given the difficulty to buy an RTX 30 graphics card in real life.
As for Microsoft, it has gained a lot of momentum with Xbox Cloud Gaming. The service launched on Android devices last year, but in 2021 it was rolled out to Apple devices, the Xbox PC app, and xbox consoles. This growing device support means more and more people have a painless way to try out the service and experience a game without the need for local gaming hardware that is difficult to purchase right now. It also means that next-gen exclusives like Starfield will be playable on Xbox One, or your phone.
Once again, cloud gaming is not without its quirks, which is that it depends entirely on the quality of your internet connection. Support still has a long way to go before it can completely supplant traditional console or PC hardware in most gaming lounges – if we ever get to this point – but device-level support and growth. and the platform show that cloud gaming will continue to be an important part of the gaming landscape for years to come.