Even after Palworld and Helldivers 2, analyst predicts the industry needs another smash hit for 2024 to compete with 2023 and Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy evil
(Image credit: Avalanche Software)

Last year was an extraordinary year in the games industry to say the least, jam-packed with hugely anticipated AAA releases including Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Hogwarts Legacy, Starfield, and Marvel's Spider-Man 2, as well as comparative sleeper hits like Baldur's Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2. This year, however, seems like it'll be comparatively quiet, and one prominent industry analyst is doubtful it'll be able to top the unprecedented games rush that was 2023 if it doesn't pull something out of the bag.

In specific, Hogwarts Legacy was 2023's best-selling game, and Circana analyst Mat Piscatella told GamesIndustry.biz that 2024 will need another big-hitter beyond Palworld and Helldivers 2, which he said didn't come out of nowhere, but are "neighbors to nowhere," if it wants to compete.

"Right now my most optimistic outlook is down about 2%," Piscatella said, referring to 2024's video game consumer spending compared to 2023. "If you start looking a little bit on the more pessimistic side, you're looking at down about 10%. If things really go sideways, you're looking at a little bit more.

"Helldivers 2 and Palworld have done a lot of heavy lifting early in the year, but we're up against a comp last year with Hogwarts Legacy, which was a massive hit," Piscatella said. "So we need another game on top of Helldivers and Palworld to try to comp what Hogwarts was doing last year, and it's still doing a year later."

Although 2024 hasn't been without its more conventional big hitters; Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and Tekken 8 come to mind immediately; it's also fair to say nothing released so far has had the universal acclaim and mainstream appeal of something like, say, Tears of the Kingdom, Marvel's Spider-Man 2, or indeed, Hogwarts Legacy. It's a fantastic year for JRPGs, for example, but a less fantastic year more generally.

"The uncertainty level this year is probably the highest I can recall – and I've been around since 2005 – with the uncertainty of what's going to get us to the finish line because we don't have those big games announced that we know," Piscatella added. "When people are saying 'our slate's going to be light this year,' that's not something that usually happens."

For 2025, however, there's one absolute behemoth looming on the horizon, threatening to make financial mince meat out of the biggest games from 2023: GTA 6, which Piscatella himself said could be the most important thing "to ever release in the industry, so no pressure." Whether it lives up to the hype is in Rockstar's hands at the moment, but there's no denying this sequel alone makes 2025 a more optimistic year for the video game industry than 2024, at least as it stands at the time of publication.

It's worth recognizing that the year is still young, and as Piscatella alluded, most folks were not expecting Helldivers 2 and Palworld to become the juggernauts that they have, and there's nothing ruling out more surprises this year with the potential to shake things up significantly.

While we're on the topic, here are the best games of 2023.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.