It was a busy year for video game news here at IGN. In addition to the regular release date announcements and new game reveals, 2021 featured an unprecedented amount of game delays and extended coverage of PS5 and Xbox Series X|S throughout the consoles’ first full year on the market.
As we move into 2022, we’re looking back on the biggest news stories of the past year, as determined by IGN page views. Click through the gallery below or continue scrolling for our full list of the 20 most-read gaming news stories of 2021.
Data based on IGN page views as of December 10.
On January 22, in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, Microsoft announced it was increasing the price of Xbox Live Gold. Within the new pricing structure, a one-year subscription would cost $120 USD, compared to its current price of $60. A day later, following community backlash, Microsoft reversed that decision. In addition to keeping subscriptions at their existing prices, the company announced it was removing the Gold requirement for free-to-play games.
The first report on Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition was published in mid-August. At the time, Kotaku claimed Rockstar was remastering GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and Switch. As we now know, that report turned out to be accurate. Rockstar’s official announcement can be found further down our list.
Three months after the PS5 was released, a U.S. law firm filed a class action complaint against Sony related to the DualSense controller. The filing alleges DualSense controllers are equipped with defective joysticks that lead to drift issues, and that Sony's conduct related to the matter is "fraudulent, deceptive, unlawful, and unfair.” The case is ongoing, as of December 2021.
In mid-May, IGN Senior News Editor Kat Bailey published a report on the surge of developers departing Blizzard. The in-depth report features fascinating perspectives on the inner workings of the legendary game studio behind Diablo and Overwatch.
16. Nintendo Direct February 2021: Everything Announced Including The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
In February 2021, Nintendo aired its first new direct in 17 months. Nintendo’s return to the digital stage featured over two dozen announcements, including the reveals of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, Splatoon 3, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and much more.
A Bloomberg report published in 2021 alleged Sony is developing a remake of 2013’s The Last of Us. While it may feel a bit soon considering a remastered version was already released for PS4, it’s worth noting HBO is developing a The Last of Us TV show that covers the events of the first game. Perhaps the remake, if it’s indeed real, will align with the release of the show. Time will tell.
Also in that report, Bloomberg claimed Bend Studio planned a sequel to Days Gone, but the pitch was rejected by Sony.
20 years after the original Xbox was released, a previously undiscovered Easter egg was found within the console’s dashboard. The Easter egg, which requires users to insert an audio CD and follow a very specific set of instructions, unlocks a new screen that lists the four developers credited with creating the Xbox dashboard.
In early 2020 indie developer Ward B was presented with an opportunity it describes as “huge”: a Russian weapons manufacturer wanted to turn one of the studio’s shotgun designs into a real-life weapon. Unfortunately, the weapon, designed for Ward B’s upcoming game Oceanic, was then manufactured in real life without the studio’s permission. There’s much more to the story — all of which is covered in the full report linked above, written by IGN Executive Editor of News Joe Skrebels.
Following the troubled release of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4 and Xbox One, CD Projekt Red announced a patch (1.2) that "should fix the most prominent problems gamers are facing on last-gen consoles." It was no surprise, then, that readers were eager to read about the specifics of the patch when they were announced three months later. The changelog for the patch included hundreds of bullet points, tackling issues with gameplay, quests, the open world, and much more.
At E3 2021 Bethesda confirmed Starfield would be an Xbox console exclusive. Three days later the company’s marketing boss, Pete Hines, issued an apology to PlayStation fans: "If you're a big fan of stuff we make and a game that we're making is no longer available on your platform I totally understand if you are unhappy or pissed. […] Sorry, all I can really say is, 'I apologize,' because I'm certain that's frustrating to folks, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it."
10. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla Adds Fan-Requested Feature – But Fans Aren't Happy With How It's Been Added
Update 1.2.0 for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla added transmogrification, or the ability to change the appearance of gear while maintaining its original stats. However, players were displeased with its implementation, as Ubisoft decided transmogrifying gear would cost 50 in-game silver. (In the series’ previous entry, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, transmogrification was free.)
Two images from what was then referred to as Battlefield 6 were leaked in early May. The screenshots showcased big storms, a rocket ship, helicopters, beaches, and more. The leak was proven legitimate a month later when “Battlefield 6” was revealed as Battlefield 2042.
March was a standout month for free PS Plus games, largely due to the inclusion of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Rounding out the month’s lineup were the co-op action-RPG Remnant: From the Ashes, the gorgeous puzzle game Maquette, and the VR shooter Farpoint.
First announced in 2019, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO was canceled in April 2021. Months earlier, co-developer Leyou was acquired by Tencent. The cancellation then came as a result of failed contract negotiations between Amazon and Tencent.
Resident Evil Village actress Jeanette Maus died in January 2021 at the age of 39. Maus played multiple characters in Village, though most notably she portrayed Cassandra Dimitrescu, one of Lady D’s three daughters.
One of only two official game announcements on this list, Palia is a new MMO from Singularity 6, a collective of former Blizzard, Epic, Riot, Zynga, and Sony devs. In Palia, which is described as a “massively multiplayer community sim,” players awake in a fantastical world in which humans are treated as legendary creatures. Gameplay systems include hunting, bug-catching, fishing, cooking, home decorating, and romance.
The second official announcement to make this list is Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. Following many leaks (one of which sits at number 19 on this list), Rockstar officially announced the updated collection of GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. Unfortunately, it was a messy launch for the trilogy, one littered with bugs, performance issues, and more.
2021’s Call of Duty seemingly released to less fanfare than entries past. Supporting that feeling are the UK sales numbers for Call of Duty: Vanguard, which were down considerably compared to the previous year’s Black Ops Cold War. GamesIndustry.biz teamed with PAX and EGX to find out why players weren’t buying Vanguard. According to the survey results, over half of respondents said they were simply too busy playing other games. Other popular responses included having already played too much Call of Duty lately (34%), having no interest in WWII games (24%), and having their Call of Duty itch scratched by Warzone (14%).
Netflix officially launched its mobile gaming service in the U.S. this past November. The service, available on iOS and Android devices, launched with five games: Stranger Things: 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Card Blast, Teeter, and Shooting Hoops. Five additional games have since been added to the catalog, including a match-3 puzzler (Knittens), an off-road racer (Asphalt Xtreme), and a mini-golf game (Wonderputt Forever).
2021’s most-read “news” story on IGN covered the greatly exaggerated demise of Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot. In 2020, Nintendo announced a number of new games and products in celebration of Super Mario Bros.' 35th anniversary. Bizarrely, Nintendo said it would stop selling those games and products, including Super Mario 3D All-Stars, on March 31, 2021.
Without sufficient explanation from Nintendo as to why sales would be cut off on that date, the internet took matters into its own hands and dubbed March 31 “The Day Mario Dies.”
And those were the most-read video game news stories of the year. Let us know what you think was the biggest gaming-related news of 2021, and be sure to stay tuned to IGN throughout 2022 as we continue to bring you the latest video game news, previews, reviews, and so much more.