By Jeff Neuenschwander / December 31st, 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a tiring year. You’d think last year might have been, but somehow the double console release was more energizing than draining.
We are now in the third year of the new home console generation. The system with the most exclusives is stagnating due to poor marketing. The system that was the most divisive last year is getting pummeled by its main competitor despite making improvements. And the lead system doesn’t have a lot of true exclusives to make its library stand out.
Just looking at the consoles is enough to make you scream. But if you look at the rest of the gaming world, you’ll be screaming for days. You have a game that should’ve been a slam dunk to receive funding through Kickstarter get horribly defeated while two big time devs don’t know when to say, “Okay, we have enough.” You have a major publisher going full troll with its fans, no-showing a presentation and selling a one hour game for $40. You have a game that hyped up so many people two years ago only to be cut at the knees by its publisher. You have fallout from last year’s biggest bankruptcy. And you have more video content controversy.
This doesn’t even include the biggest controversy from this past year (which we’ll talk about later on).
Was there good at all? Yes, there was. Just like every year, there was good, bad, ugly, and just plain weird. And we begin with one of the weirdest.
- Nintendo and Playboy Team Up to Promote Bayonetta 2
When you think of Nintendo, it’s usually family friendly fun that comes to your mind. So color us surprised when we wake up one day to find that family friendly Nintendo has teamed up with adult magazine Playboy to promote a Mature rated game. Then again, we did find out that Bayonetta’s outfits weren’t sexy enough for Nintendo.
Speaking of weird, this one will go down in the history books as one of the weirdest…
- Hatsune Miku on The Late Show with David Letterman
Definitely a surreal moment when you see something like Hatsune Miku appear on the legendary show. Check it out:
And now, one of the most interesting business developments of the year…
- XSEED to Publish Marvelous Farming Sim/Natsume Creates Own Harvest Moon
I don’t think I’ve ever seen it where an IP holder and a trademark holder were two separate entities. And I’ve definitely never seen it where the rights holder for the IP has someone new take it over while the rights holder for the name created its own IP with the old name. I would hope that would mean that two great farming series are in store for us, but, given how that first attempt by Natsume went, I’m not holding my breath for a rivalry.
- New Nintendo 3DS Revealed
I had this weird dream earlier this year where Nintendo added a nipple and a couple more trigger buttons to its 3DS… Oh wait, that actually happened.
So, the New 3DS — or as I like to call it, the 3DSi — was revealed and released in Japan and Australia. However, the rest of the world has to wait because, apparently, we have not reached mass consumption for the first models. So, we all have our orders: stop buying the 3DS and we’ll be able to get the New 3DS.
- Konami Goes Full Troll at Conferences
Okay, so forget about Ground Zeroes for a second and focus on just what they did for the E3 and Gamescom events. At E3, they had a countdown on their website that, when it hit zero, went to absolutely nothing, which was what finally pushed me over on my feelings toward the once great company. But they weren’t done there. At Gamescom, it was a little more positive as they gave PS4 owners something call “P.T.”, which stood for “Playable Teaser”. So what was this one room repeating over and over teaser, gamers? Silent Hills, directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro and starring Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead TV series. Not bad, Konami. You still have a ways to go to really win us over again, but not bad.
- Microsoft Buys Mojang
This was unexpected, especially since Markus “Notch” Persson has actually come out in recent years and openly criticized his previous deal with the console creator. But it’s also a bit weird as Mojang, now a Microsoft property, will be creating and licensing games for Sony’s consoles, which includes the recently announced Minecraft: Story Mode.
Speaking of other acquisitions…
- Amazon Buys Twitch
After months and months of speculation of Google acquiring Twitch, it was Amazon that stepped in to purchase the streaming service. The home of several Let’s Play series and many eSports competitions was bought for a cool $970 million after only being around for three years.
- Former Index Execs Arrested
More news from last year’s Index Bankruptcy as its former CEO and President have been arrested for inflating their financial records, duping investors. More arrests are expected in this investigation.
- Watch_Dogs Graphics Conundrum
This one actually started last year when gamers started to notice that the graphics for one of Ubisoft’s most hyped games was looking a bit lacking. As it turned out, there was good reason to question it, as it released below expectations and complete with code that included how to make the PC version look as good as it did at E3 2012.
- Shadow of Mordor Video Content Fiasco
Companies are starting to take advantage of the audience that has been created by Let’s Players. There have been a few times this has happened — Far Cry 4 is one of them, EA did it a year ago with Dead Space 3 — but the one that has stood out this year was Warner Bros. with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Why? Because a contract was revealed to the general public that showed what these Let’s Players were forced to do in order to receive a free copy to play. These include covering up glitches, not talking about any of the franchise that the game is based off of, and focusing on talking points that had been repeated since the game’s reveal. Refuse to take part in this, you might not be able to stream the game.
- The Failed Cult County Kickstarter
This one should’ve been a slam dunk. A loved developer of games like Moon, Dementium, and Mutant Mudds trying to crowdfund a game? How couldn’t this get funded? Well, some people said that the asking price of $580,000 was too much… even though there are many games that were crowdfunded through Kickstarter that went above and beyond that mark.
Should people have worried as they did? I don’t think so. Renegade Kid isn’t some upstart developer. These guys have been around a while creating great games.
What about the asking price? Was it too much? The answer comes with the next honorable mention…
- The Shovel Knight Financial Roller Coaster
Yacht Club Games raised over $300,000 to create an homage to 8-bit platformers, complete with musical sounds and colors that you would see during that era. As players will know, the game is a Game of the Year contender. As some of you financial guys might also know, despite strict budgeting and having Jake Kaufman accept payment after release, Yacht Club ran out of money.
This is something to really think about. If Shovel Knight barely made it after having a budget of about $300,000, was $580,000 really too much to ask for when you’re creating a more complex game visually? Furthermore, what about games that only raise $80-100,000? Should we be concerned about those games?
There is a silver lining though: Shovel Knight eventually became a financial success.
Let me just list a few games off that released in October. Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, Sproggiwood, Freedom Wars, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Tears to Tiara II, Fantasy Life, TRI: Of Friendship and Madness, Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, Samurai Warriors 4, Costume Quest 2, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Zombie Panic in Wonderland DX, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Sunset Overdrive, Legend of Grimrock II, The Legend of Korra games, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, Boot Hill Heroes, and Life of Pixel.
What’s left in your wallet?
- The Indie-Boom
While it seemed like the high-end games seemed to fall off this year, the indies, especially those that were Kickstarted, made their presence known. High-end campaigns Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin released to critical acclaim. Shovel Knight is not only the eShop’s first big indie-hit but a legitimate Game of the Year contender. Renegade Kid released Xeodrifter, the first episode of Moon Chronicles, and has a number of projects coming next year, including the long awaited Treasurenauts and a 3DS remake of Dementium. Boot Hill Heroes, the EarthBound-inspired Western, has fully released. Shantae has a new game released. Nidhogg is an entertaining twist on fencing. The Banner Saga, another Kickstarted game, not only is a great tactical RPG but also survived an attack from Bejeweled-clone developer King. Shadowgate returned with even more frustratingly good puzzles. Five Nights at Freddy’s came out of nowhere to dominate the summer. Sproggiwood nearly beat Bayonetta 2 for Game of the Month – October.
Just a great year for indies.
- GBA Games Come to Wii U Virtual Console
This was a long time coming. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the console we were hoping for. The reason is that the 3DS can’t quite run the emulator that Nintendo is trying to use now for its VC games. But perhaps the New 3DS can…
Just another reason to stop buying the 3DS to force Nintendo’s hand.
- PS4 Sells 10 Million in 9 Months
Sony should be sending some “Thank You” cards to Microsoft for this one. They obliterated the Xbox One last year at E3 and just continued momentum all the way through release day and beyond, resulting in a Gamescom announcement during Sony’s presentation of just how successful their message was.
So, when are those games coming?
- PlayStation TV Comes West
The former Vita TV has made it to the West. Along with being able to play your Vita games on a TV, the micro-console looks to also compete against the likes of Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast in a battle for TV-on-a-budget supremacy.
- Fantasy Life Comes West
You may have missed this after Nintendo’s Digital Event. Once the event was over, a number of games were announced. This included the likes of Mario Party 10 as well as the localization of Fantasy Life. This charming game was released about a year and a half ago in Japan and was well worth the wait.
- Rodea: The Sky Soldier Re-Revealed, Coming to Wii U and 3DS
Remember the game that Yuji Naka revealed in 2010? The one that drew comparisons to Nights into Dreams and Sonic? Well, it’s back. And more importantly, it’s scheduled for a Japanese release this coming Spring. Moreover, the initial print of the Wii U version will include the cancelled Wii game.
- XSEED Brings Two Senran Kagura Games to North America
Senran Kagura Burst was such a success last year that XSEED took another chance with it. This time, it’s the Vita that was shown the love with Shinovi Versus and Bon Appetit. Shinovi Versus is an action game and sequel to Burst. Meanwhile, Bon Appetit went for a more food flavor…
Yeah, that really happens.
- Douglas Smith, Lode Runner Creator, Passes Away
September 13th was a sad day in gaming as Douglas E. Smith passed away. If you don’t recognize the name, Smith was the creator of Lode Runner, an excellent puzzle-platformer from way back in 1983. He was 54.
- PSP Ends Run
A bit of a somber moment, but perhaps one that needs to be celebrated as the PSP, the most successful non-Nintendo handheld of all-time, was discontinued throughout the world. Our Karli Winata had an excellent three-part farewell to the system earlier this year. Check it out. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
Now, normally, I would have the Last Cuts right around here. But we’ve had so much to talk about with the previous moments, as well as the seven moments at the top (the Top 5 plus the Last Cuts) that I’m gonna need another page.
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