The Most Surprising Games and Gaming Stories of 2022

From industry legends involved in shocking scandals to tiny passion projects becoming global sensations, these were some of the most surprising games and stories of 2022.

2022 is almost finished, and boy was it an exciting year for gaming. While we’ll be talking about the year’s many video game highlights, we couldn’t end the year without also sharing a healthy dose of “WTF?”

Surprise developments are nothing new in the game industry (some of us are still recovering from the sudden cancelation of Star Wars 1313). In fact, surprises are part and parcel with the very nature of games. Sometimes those surprises came in the form of games we thought would be good but are anything but (and vice versa), while other times surprises are just general bits of news.

While every surprise development is, by definition, startling, some revelations are more noteworthy than others. Here are some of 2022’s most important surprise games and game-related news stories.

Babylon’s Fall

Babylon’s Fall Fails As Completely As Any Game in Recent Memory

Square Enix and PlatinumGames initially announced Babylon’s Fall during E3 2018, and fans initially had high hopes for the title because it was being developed by the legendary PlatinumGames. Gamers were still riding high off Platnium’s most recent title, NieR: Automata, so many expected Babylon’s Fall to feature the studio’s trademark blend of creative combat and unique storytelling. Unfortunately, players quickly realized Babylon’s Fall wasn’t worth the wait.

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Reviews tore the game apart with notable intensity. Reviewers and players alike criticized the monotony, visuals, combat, and live service model. It was all quite a shock. Platnium’s titles are usually amazing, and even their worst titles usually have some redeeming qualities. But it feels like nobody had too many nice things to say about Babylon’s Fall. Its creators apparently felt the same, as Square Enix and PlatinumGames announced that they will terminate services for the game on February 27, 2023, not even a year after its release. Some reports suggest that GameStop was throwing and giving away copies of the game months after its release just to liquidate inventory.

Activision Blizzard Massive Layoffs

Microsoft Tries to Acquire Activision Blizzard and Immediately Riles Governments and Gamers Everywhere

Lately, it feels like Microsoft and Sony have been buying game publishers and developers at a rapid rate. In 2020, Microsoft bought Bethesda ZeniMax, and earlier this year, Sony purchased Bungie. But the “acquisition” that turned heads was Microsoft’s attempt to buy Activision Blizzard. Sure, Bethesda and Bungie are big companies, but they pale in comparison to Activision Blizzard. Microsoft is reportedly planning to spend over $68 billion to acquire the controversial studio. That’s a lot of dough.

Even though Microsoft hasn’t bought Activision just yet, the mere declaration has sent shockwaves throughout the industry that are still being felt today. Many organizations and companies voiced concerns regarding the merger. Some were clearly disturbed by the idea of Microsoft spending so much money on a company that is the subject of a massive employee abuse investigation, though others quickly raised concerns that the deal would give Microsoft a gaming monopoly. The most recent development in this ordeal involved the FTC suing Microsoft to block the acquisition, which few gamers saw coming. There’s a good chance this purchase fiasco will extend well into 2023, so expect more surprising developments in the coming months.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet‘s Surprising Reveals and Releases End In an All-too-Familiar Way

Credit where credit is due: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are pretty entertaining games, and they feature that open-world Pokémon fans have wanted for years. Many fans enjoy them despite their technical problems, but there’s no denying the games are buggy as hell. Some players can overlook the issues and just enjoy the loop of catching and battling Pokémon, but the issues have many concerned about the present and future of the franchise.

You don’t need to look hard to find the glitches in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Players have chronicled issues such as invisible Ride Pokémon, collision problems, and glitching character models. But problems run much deeper than just the occasional visual issue. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet suffer some of the worst performance issues of any major Nintendo Switch game available. The framerate isn’t stable, the pop-in is constant, and it feels like there are numerous features either missing or simply never considered. Many were surprised these games were revealed and released in the same year, and the final products suggest the games could have used more time.

Deadly VR Device

Oculus Rift’s Creator Disturbingly Designs a Deadly VR Device

Sword Art Online is the butt of many jokes, one of which is the logic behind its NerveGear headsets. Who in their right mind would make a VR headset that kills its target demographic if they die in a video game? Turns out the answer is Oculus Rift’s creator, Palmer Luckey.

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To be fair, Luckey’s design is a far cry from the NerveGear. The fictional headset is a mass-produced item that fries brains using microwaves, while Luckey’s design is a one-of-a-kind device with explosive charges. Of course, nobody has actually tested Luckey’s death helmet for obvious reasons, so we don’t know if it actually works. We only have Luckey’s word. Plus, the device was developed to celebrate the in-show day characters got trapped in their fictional game world (November 6, 2022) so the whole thing is probably just a joke. Still, the idea of a prominent industry figure willingly developing a deadly VR device is a little more dystopian than we’d like.

Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap Paints a Surprisingly Optimistic Picture For the Future of Mobile Gaming

Marvel Snap is the latest entry in the collectible card game genre, but unlike popular titles like Hearthstone, Marvel Snap doesn’t have any loot box-style DLC. The game still features microtransactions, but they are restricted to cosmetics and upgrading cards. You always know what you’re getting into when you make a purchase, and while matches utilize a heavy amount of chance, the in-game store is gambling-free. Given all the mobile games that rely on loot boxes, this is a surprising, but welcome, breath of fresh air.

Speaking of matches, Marvel Snap is astonishingly addictive. The game is designed to be fast; rounds don’t last any longer than five minutes. Moreover, Marvel Snap doesn’t copy the homework of similar titles and uses a novel, MOBA-esque battlefield that sees players battle over three lanes. Here’s to a hopefully long and fruitful life for Marvel Snap, as well as a future where major mobile games aren’t quite the parody of themselves that they’ve become.

Yuji Naka

Sonic Creator Yuji Naka Arrested For Insider Trading (Twice)

In 2021, Yuji Naka was on everyone’s minds because of the massive flop that was Balan Wonderworld. It was a rough start for Naka’s business relationship with Square Enix, and it was about to get worse.

In October 2022, Naka was arrested on the charges of insider trading over the mobile game Dragon Quest Tact. Naka was arrested again in December for the same crime, though this time, the charges were related to the mobile game Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier.

Though some of Naka’s controversial games and statements in recent years had already tainted his legacy in the minds of some, this development came as a true shock. To many gamers, Naka created their childhoods. After all, he was behind beloved Sega titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Nights into Dreams, and Phantasy Star. The nature and speed of his fall from grace have been stunning. Never meet your heroes, I suppose.

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Vampire Survivors

Vampire Survivors Shows That the Best Games Don’t Have to be $70 Epics

At first glance, Vampire Survivors is as simple as a game can be. Its pixel art is reminiscent of old 2D Castlevania titles (it honestly looks like a ripoff mobile game), and each session has one goal: survive as long as you can. You don’t even have direct control over your character’s attacks; just their movements. Well, Vampire Survivors may be as simple as it looks, but that simplicity results in a surprisingly fun and addictive product.

All attacks are automated in Vampire Survivors, so players only have to worry about dodging enemies, leveling up, and collecting treasure. Each time a player levels up or picks up an item, the game doles out a new skill or weapon. Nearly all of those elements are random, but survive long enough, and you will collect an arsenal of abilities that turns the screens into glorious chaos. By the time you inevitably die, you’ll be hooked and begging for more. Vampire Survivor captures the “one more round” glory of the best roguelikes while showing that the expensive and time-consuming future of Triple-A gaming is only part of the industry.

Bayonetta 3

The Many Layers of the Hellena Taylor Bayonetta 3 Scandal

It’s no secret that the video game industry at large shows little respect for voice actors. However, it’s become a dark part of the business that many people seemingly prefer to never talk about. Shortly before the release of Bayonetta 3, though, that dark secret was on everyone’s minds since, in that game, Bayonetta would be voiced by a new actor, Jennifer Hale. What happened to Bayonetta’s previous actor, Hellena Taylor? She claimed that she was only offered $4,000 to reprise her iconic role. Fans across the internet and industry quickly rallied around Taylor and called out this apparent injustice. However, all those looking to do the right thing quickly learned there are indeed two sides to many stories.

Eventually, journalists uncovered that PlatinumGames actually offered Taylor significantly more money and that she had seemingly altered elements of the deal to bolster the notion that she had been wronged. What started as a call for better treatment of video game voice actors was sabotaged by Taylor’s false claims. Remarkably, she torpedoed her reputation further by calling for fans to boycott Bayonetta 3 and donate the money they would have spent on the game to various groups, one of which was an infamous anti-abortion organization. We don’t need to say more.


Wordle Becomes The Most Unlikely Social Gaming Phenomenon In Years

By now, you have probably heard of Wordle. It’s a fun, simple mobile game that challenges players to train their brains with daily word puzzles. Wordle is so popular that it has inspired numerous clones. Initially developed as a passion project in 2013, Wordle was quietly released in 2021 to absolutely no fanfare. Yet, over the course of 2022, it inspired millions of players to log in daily to participate in its brainteasers and share their results across social media. Wordle became so big that The New York Times Company eventually purchased the game.

Thanks to a combination of its quick and addictive nature and a brilliantly minimalistic social media sharing function, Wordle became a household name. So many people play the game that when an elderly woman didn’t publish her Wordle solution, her daughter called the cops to have them check on her. This might seem like overkill, but her worries were well-placed and actually saved her mother from a kidnapping situation. Even those whose lives weren’t saved by Wordle quite so dramatically found solace in the ritual and communal aspects of the thing.

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