Gaming in 2014, Worrying Trends and Great Expectations!

One more for #listmas before it’s too late! Looking back on a year of gaming, I realize that 2014 was for the most part, a year of small releases for me or rather a year of indie gaming and digging through my steam backlog. There are no blockbuster titles to list, no Bioshock Infinite like last year and no new MMOs I enjoyed save one. If there’s something that has changed in 2014 for me personally, then that MMOs are more and more taking a backseat and not for lack of trying. Generally, there are three industry trends that have me concerned right now and that are expected to continue:

  • This era of the classic MMORPG and AAA-MMOs is over
  • Early Access gaming with a wide range of definitions is here to stay
  • Console exclusivity is back with a vengeance

While online coop and multi-player games are thriving at least, it is especially that third trend which is both surprising given the state of console gaming only two years ago and annoying in an age of digital gaming and connectivity. If you’re browsing 2015 previews on any major gaming site right now, you will find a large amount of releases exclusive to either XBOX One or PS4, not to mention the usual Nintendo IPs (which have always been insular). Heck, even franchises that were born on PC, such as Tomb Raider, are going console exclusive in 2015.

There was a window early into the turn of the millennium, when the rise of online gaming seemed to finally overcome the boundaries of systems; multi-platform titles were all the rage and had the gaming community united. Now, the future bodes ill for multi-platforming and anyone sticking to just PC. Certainly anyone with a smaller budget. Meh?

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

The stunning vistas of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

My “GOTYs” of 2014

I am putting “GOTY” in quotation marks because I don’t really have one best game of the year – much rather, these are the games I had most fun with in 2014 and that I poured the most hours into, in no specific order (and not necessarily 2014 releases either):

  • Wildstar; My MMO of the year for what its worth!
  • Warlords of Draenor; A pleasant surprise and fuzzy feels.
  • The Wolf Among Us; A must-play for any Fables and Telltale fans.
  • Papers, Please; You may call yourself queen of multi-tasking afterwards.
  • Cook, Serve, Delicious; I am wildly proud of my five star restaurant!
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter; A dark horse, original and very sad.
  • Child of Light; A beautiful, poetic, otherworldly journey despite Uplay.
  • Rayman Legends; The greatest classic J&R/platformer I have played since the 90ies.
  • Don’t Starve Together; Already lots of fun in coop despite being beta.
  • 7 Days to Die; A solid building and survival game (with zombies!), alpha.

I could also list some disappointments of the year, such as ESO or Destiny, but let’s not dwell on low lights and move straight to great expectations for 2015 – of which there are many!

2014-12-22_00008

Fun and games in Don’t Starve Together

My Most Anticipated Games of 2015

I cannot recall the last time I looked forward to new releases as much before a new year! The line-ups for 2015 are packed and fingers crossed, we got an awesome year of new games ahead of us for every preference. Definitely on my radar in 2015 (mostly available on PC):

  1. The Witcher 3; NO WORDS! I am taking holidays for this one!
  2. The Division
  3. No Man’s Sky (eventually on PC)
  4. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
  5. Black Desert
  6. Everquest Next(?)
  7. The Long Dark
  8. Evolve
  9. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4)
  10. Minecraft Storymode
  11. Overwatch
  12. [Insert too many small indie/KS gems to name here]

With two MMOs still among my picks, I realize that I have never branched out as much in terms of genre as I do nowadays. I enjoy coop titles a great deal no matter the setting and look forward to more online multi-player in the future. This last quarter of 2014 has also re-lit my love for survival and building games, so along with classic exploration mode, I hope there will be some surprises on that front in 2015!

Not a bad way to start a new year! What are your most awaited games of 2015?
Oh and happy New Year, everybody!

20 comments

  1. The most worrying development for me in 2014 going into 2015 is the ever-increasing tendency of bloggers I follow to write about non-MMO games. Without exception I came to all of the gaming blogs in my reader because they featured MMOs most of the time but for the last few months I would say the majority of posts that pop up on Feedly are about video games in other genres.

    When those were a small minority of the posts I was reading they made for a nice contrast but now that they are threatening to become the main topic of conversation I am really struggling. I don’t play any video games other than MMOs and I have no plans to start so maintaining an interest is difficult.

    Clearly many bloggers who have been playing MMOs and writing about them for a few years now have lost or are in the process of losing either interest or faith in the genre. That may be a natural outcome of the maturing of the form. As entertainment genres move from the specialist niche into the mainstream so the need for a dedicated community to support conversation between early adopters and aficionados diminishes. Whether new bloggers will appear to replace the burn-outs I somewhat doubt.

    1. It’s true that dedicated blogs are disappearing and have for a while – to me that’s a natural course given the state of MMOs. All genres evolve and as far as dedicated MMORPG gaming goes, I think it’s fair to say that era is coming to an end, also in terms of new games being released to warrant such dedication.

      So between bloggers shutting down entirely or branching out with topics, I prefer the second – I read many blogs because of the writers and the similar tastes they have got, be it on games, movies or music. Personally, I welcome the variety we got now – I find it increasingly hard to read dedicated MMO blogs. :) If you don’t play the game it’s impossible to remain interested in the little details and daily business and there’s only so many old MMOs I can still take interest in. My own blog has been very dedicated up to this point but frankly, unless something unforeseen happens I will start writing about all the other games I am playing in lieu of MMOs.

      To me, this genre has always been about the people and exploring vast worlds, which is something that is alive and well in online coop and multiplayer games; as long as I get that fix, I am quite happy. You can expect me to potter wherever I go! ;)

      1. I think MMOs are in a lull right now. All game types go through this. PC games have been declared more often than I care to count (and even once again in this very blog post!), but PC games always come back. I expect we’ll see MMOs run in the background for a while with some modest successes and some years down the line we’ll see a new game come out of seemingly nowhere to capture everyone’s imagination again. It’s happened several times in the game industry’s past.

    2. I’ve discovered that it’s hard to maintain a purely MMO gaming blog for a string of years without becoming a sort of one-trick-pony. I don’t mind forays off into non-MMO topics, and in fact I welcome it for the variety, but I look at it as the need for bloggers to find interesting things to talk about.

      There’s only so many times I can dip into the well and talk about a specific MMO –WoW or otherwise– without covering topics I’d touched on a year or two ago. I suppose I could talk a lot more about the Wii or the Wii U right now –the latter was a Christmas present– but I don’t see more than a post or two coming out of it. Those bloggers who have veered completely away from MMO topics are merely reflecting the variety in their lives.

      1. Aye, I think it was different few years ago when WoW came out too, because that’s how many MMO blogs started. WoW had everyone firing from all holes but eventually, few MMOs in, topics repeat themselves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either but certainly explains why more and more longterm bloggers have started to deviate from exclusive MMO blogging.

    3. MMOs are very much in a lull for me at the moment. I just can’t muster up any excitement for the smaller sandbox wannabes, especially once they start throwing unregulated and asymmetrical PvP into the mix to offer ‘realism.’ I just don’t need that kind of immersion, thanks. Others love ’em, I just can’t deal with the concept. I need me some fair fights before I even think of playing competitively, just not interested in paying for the privilege of being prey.

      Add to that the fact that my dream game, in terms of cooperation, community, design principles, payment model and no nonsense tolerance of toxicity, has already existed for two years and I have no impetus to move anywhere else to another MMO space.

      So I end up just mixing my time and attention between it and singleplayer or smaller multiplayer games, and that’s what I end up blogging about.

      1. You and Bhag are two of few bloggers that have consistently written interesting posts about GW2 for two years (and posted beautiful screenshots!), so by all means continue. :D

  2. You’ve got me interested in The Wolf Among Us, a game that wasn’t on my radar at all. Hoping to see it on a good sale but if not, will probably get it anyway.

    1. It is seriously great and got me interested in everything else that Telltale are doing! I didn’t read the Fables but I love fairy tales and the game has such a unique style – am pretty sure you won’t regret it! :)

  3. And again a list such as yours makes me question my “gamer” personality (whereas I don’t see myself as a gamer anyway, but whatever) because of your GOTY list I only played WildStar and WoW and from your 2015 list I hadn’t even heard of 2/3 of them :P

    So 2015 will probably the same as every year. A few MMOs and less than 10 small titles where I sink less than 10h each in them.

    And to bhagpuss, I’m not sure I read many gaming blogs that I originally subscribed to for the MMO content which aren’t a healthy mix of MMOs and other games. Or maybe it’s a years long trend and I just noticed it earlier ;)

    1. Dunno if it has to do with gamer personality ;) I browse Steam a lot and get recommendations on various social media platforms, so I am bound to try many new games all the time, hehe! Whatever games you played this year, what matters is that you enjoyed yourself! I don’t think I could fill my time with just MMOs anymore, there’s just not enough to catch my interest atm..

      And hey, not knowing many games on my list means you got a great source of recommendations if you ever feel bored, right! :D

  4. Nice post. However, I think permanent third party console exclusivity (aside from Nintendo) is waning. Most major titles are multi-platform. The only major one I can recall that will be permanently exclusive is SF5 if I am not mistaken. I don’t count first party titles as those will always be exclusive. Of those, there are quite a few but I don’t think the trend to console exclusives should include them. The big trend I see is hardware developers buying timed exclusivity and indie exclusives. The Tomb Raider game you mention is one of those. It will only be exclusive for a period of time (the exact time period MS paid for is not yet specified). It has also been done with GTA 5 DLC and a few others like Destiny.

    As for MMOs, it will be a long time before we see any triple AAA MMOs again (EQNext included). For the moment though, FFXIV keeps me busy and the occasional peek into GW2. On the sandbox side, I have not been following any too closely. To get me interested, they need to do away with asymetrical PVP. It doesn’t work in the long run.

    1. Well, Uncharted 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Bloodborne, Quantum Break, Halo 5, Crackdown, Fable Legends, Ratchet and Clank Reboot, No Man’s Sky and Rime are just a few games I am interested in but believe they are console exclusive in 2015. I was also really sad to see Last of Us remaining so.

      Sure, there are also many multi-platform games in 2015 and that’s great – but buy-offs like the Tomb Raider one by MS are very worrying imho, also in terms of setting an example. Granted as you said, some of them are timed exclusive (No Man’s Sky too).

      I agree we’ve seen the last of AAA-MMOs for a while, even if I still count EQN among them. I fully expect more open-world RPGs with multiplayer and sandbox elements to make an appearance in the future however, so fingers crossed!

  5. I think MMOs are going to be in a lull for 2015 and well into 2016, with not a lot of big new releases. The industry is in the disillusionment phase of the hype cycle now, as the men with the money to back projects properly have finally realised that WoW was a one-off in terms of sheer, ridiculous profitability. Give it a year or two and they’ll realise that the likes of GW2 and SWTOR may not be making WoW money but they’re still giving a good return on investment , and then we will see AAA games being funded again. For now, the stuff coming down the pipeline is mostly crowdfunded projects. Some of those are by professionals and stand a good chance of launching a game. Far too many consist of a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs with a wildly over the top vision document who are going to discover, the hard way, that complex IT projects are difficult, ideas are cheap and craftsmanship depends on getting ALL the details right.

    Meanwhile I’ll still be here, playing the MMOs I’ve already got because most of them aren’t going away any time soon. Maybe it’s a good thing for these persistent virtual worlds if more of the players try, well, persisting in them for a while.

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