Print Edition: January 8, 2014
In the world of video games, 2013 was clouded in controversy, with the bad often overshadowing the good. Among console announcements and the future of Star Wars gaming, there were many great moments that were unfortunately met with lacklustre responses, hindering the overall discussion.
One of the main games to suffer this was Tomb Raider. After years of hype, the fifth game in the series was released on March 5 to very good reviews. Crystal Dynamics did what some thought impossible and revamped the Lara Croft saga. It was thought to be a decent success with over 3 million copies sold. However due to the amount of money spent on advertising by Square Enix, the game needed to sell over $5 million to be considered a success. With an overall budget of $100 million, Tomb Raider was a reminder of how important the budget to sales ratio truly is when mixed with high marketing prices.
On the flip side, the indie market continued to succeed. With over quadruple the amount of releases that larger studios put out, many of these games were met with resounding success. Games like Brothers: Tales of Two Sons, Papers Please, Gone Home, and many others stole the show when it came to games this year. It was a year for creative controls, in depth story and proved once again that indie games can give the same emotional impact that “AAA“ titles do.
But that’s not to say that some big name games didn’t step up to the plate. Rockstar’s GTA V was the best-selling game of the year and with good reason. Surprisingly, the game came with a lack of controversy. All the GTA titles have been plagued with misleading news reports or over exaggerated testimonies. While this game did have a graphic torture simulation that had the player electrocuting and severely beating a presumably innocent man, the amount of bad news it received was minimal in previous years.
What did explode in the gaming news community was the new console cycle. Microsoft (Xbox One) and Sony (PS4) were the highlight of gaming news for the second half of the year. This year showed just how much the gaming community can change a company after Microsoft changed several of the controversial features for their Xbox One following its initial unveiling. Sony has switched pricing and places with its rival company and taken the top spot in sales with a better gaming console. While Microsoft’s original ideas for the Xbox One may have had some interesting features including a seamless switch between games that were downloaded into the hard drive, the idea of non-reusable games and a constant online function (even if a majority of anything done on gaming consoles requires online already) was too much for gamers to handle and resulted in the original concept’s demise.
Speaking of bad years, EA’s image continued to dominate. EA certainly hasn’t been in the favour of many gamers for the past few years, between their constant consuming and spitting out of development studios and pushing out games that are clearly not ready for release. In a 2013 Consumerist survey, responders compared EA’s excessive use of micro-transactions to Bank of America’s shady deals with hospitals and schools — which is absurd. What’s more, in between poor releases of the latest Army of Two, Dead Space, and Battlefield games, all was forgiven with the resurrection of the Star Wars: Battlefront series.
2013 was more a year for gaming news rather than gaming itself. The internet took the reins this year with both software and hardware announcements. 2014 looks to be a year of next gen mastery with many new MMO games coming to these systems. If there is a technical issue among them, you can bet that the internet’s reaction to such things will continue to stake out its portion of control on the gaming development world.