2014 came and went with some great announcements, some not so good times and some events that should just remain in 2014. It was another good time for good games being released, but also a time when rushed games were a common theme. This blog will focus on specifically what I want to see heading into 2015. Again it’s an opinion piece so feel free to leave your own views and comments in the comments section below.
Indie scene matures
Of course indie games will always have its own genre and be called Indie games. Anything that’s not made a major studio has this moniker attached to it. 2014, possibly even earlier, sparked the ‘big bang’ of indie developers, 1-2 man studios creating, quite frankly, better games than the major studios. Games like Spelunky, Papers Please, FTL. All these games were huge in 2014. This trend will continue to grow in 2015, but it will also mark the shifting away from where indie was the cool younger brother of the AAA games, to a situation where we will see indie becoming the new mainstream. Sure you’re still going to get Call of Duty 100, you’re still going to get Fifa 20,000 but you will start to see indie games permeating all genres of the gaming industry. We saw it last year, we’ll see it become much more established this year. Quite frankly, is this a bad trend? More choice, forcing studios to actually decide which games to care about.
Stable launch of games
2014 was a year of broken games. Assassin’s Creed Unity being the most obvious one. Bearing in mind this game cost around $60 on release day and most people would either pre order it so they can load it up on the night or digitally in which case you can’t return it, resulted in a very messy game, that had more bugs that Quality Assurance must have taken an extended holiday before the game was released. It wasn’t just Assassin’s Creed though. So many flagship games had similar issues. Take Halo:The Master Chief Collection. So many multiplayer issues that it became unplayable and the wait times to get a game far too long. Given Halo prides itself on the multiplayer aspect, this severely affects peoples’ confidence in the studios. 2015 this needs to be stopped. $60 is not a cheap amount for the typical user. Large studios need to prove that bugs of this magnitude will eventually be a thing of the past. I’m not saying games will never have bugs, I’m saying the type of bugs and the amount in each of the games mentioned was far too large and suggests sloppiness and a lack of care for the consumer. 2015 the focus should be on getting things right again.
With the arrival of the next generation systems in the PS4 and Xbox One we expected great things. What we got was good. We got better graphics, we got good frames per second, but we didn’t get games that were really taxing. Well we did, but it was too late in the year to count towards anything. Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System had Nemeses, which are AI characters generated uniquely through the game. They have their own personality and have different outcomes depending on the player’s success. This is unique and we need more of it. I expect this to make great strides in 2015. This could also be in the form of the hardware released next year. We are already making great strides in virtual reality, it just needs a little bit more to really sell. Possibly intelligent gaming can be attached to this new advent of gaming.
Gaming community matures
This article has been a lot about the need for maturing. 2014 showed the gaming community in the worst of lights. Whichever side you may fight for, harassment in any workplace is just wrong. I am of course, talking about GamerGate. Briefly, the word stemmed in response to an alleged breach of ‘ethics in game journalism’. Whether it happened or didn’t, this is not the discussion of this segment. What is the discussion is how some people found it necessary to harass, provide misinformation and generally promote death threats. This engulfed the gaming community and it is a continuing issue moving forward into 2015. Lessons must be learned about what happened in 2014 and for all the damage and anger that GamerGate brought, positives have to be taken in the way the majority of the community came together and united against the minority of people. 2015 will continue to see the maturing and hopefully GamerGate will be consigned as a black mark in an otherwise incredibly talented community.
Fundamentally I want awesome games to play. I want the gaming developer community to keep doing what they’ve done for years, make the best game they want and to show passion to each game. I want developers to keep developing tools available to the community to try to create their own games. This is what I want. Pretty selfish, aren’t I?