Happy New Year everyone! 2017 is here, but before we dive into the new year, let us reflect on some of the biggest video game new stories of 2016. It was one of the strongest years for the industry in recent memory. We saw incredible releases across every single genre, and our consoles have finally entered the 4K/HDR era. However, not everything was sunshine and roses. Game patches that are as big as entire games are becoming a norm, and we’re seeing more and more single-player games requiring constant online connection.
But that’s not all. An alarming amount of publishers have blatantly misrepresented their products, with lawsuits popping up left and right as angry customers felt betrayed and misled by false advertising. Today, we’re highlighting some of the best and worst newsworthy stories that have shaped 2016, and will have a long lasting impact as the new year unfolds. These highlights are in no particular order.
No Man’s Sky
No other game has garnered as much media attention as No Man’s Sky. No Man’s Sky was a media darling when it was first announced at VGX in 2013. Personally, I was excited about the concepts the game developers presented, and completely bought into the hype during the first few official trailer releases. But as the launch came closer, the dev’s unwillingness to answer, or even address, gamers’ concerns became troubling. I remained optimistic because I thought it was fair to give a smaller developer the benefit of the doubt. I was a fool.
No Man’s Sky was the biggest disappointment that I’ve ever witnessed in my thirty years of gaming. I can’t think of a single major “AAA” release in recent history that delivered a final product so vastly different from its gameplay presentations. Calling No Man’s Sky a failure is an understatement. It was a travesty that didn't even get fundamental gameplay basics right. And yet, despite all the criticism and Sony’s unethical handling of the situation, there were no legal ramifications after the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority rejected consumers’ complaints.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV could’ve easily landed in the same pool as No Man’s Sky when analyzing its troubling development history, but in my personal opinion, the final product has exceeded all expectations. I was ready to give up on the franchise after the disastrous XIII entries, but FFXV has re-invigorated my excitement for JRPGs.
Unlike the lackluster Last Guardian, the long development cycle has done wonders for FFXV. As far as world-building and gameplay, FFXV is the first entry in years to genuinely address fans’ complaints with the series since the rising success of FFVII.
In a way, this news has gone both ways. When the first Nintendo Switch trailer aired, the reception was extremely polarizing. While many media outlets were quick to praise Nintendo for its “innovative” approach, most people, including myself, weren’t impressed by Nintendo’s empty promises. In my opinion, the trailer was an underwhelming attempt at grasping for relevance at a time when audiences have made it pretty clear what they desire from their gaming devices. However, Nintendo continues to ignore reality, and it keeps digging an even deeper hole for themselves.
Who is the Switch actually for? It’s not for mobile gamers as the market has already been thriving thanks to advancements in mobile technology, and it’s not for consoles gamers as the Switch can barely keep up with modern consoles spec-wise. As someone who grew up with Nintendo, I also don’t see the appeal for Nintendo-only fans based on the few IPs they presented. Considering how badly the Wii U turned out and how much Nintendo misled audiences throughout an entire console generation, there’s nothing that the Switch offers (for the time being) that’s representative of a different outcome.
Having said that, I WANT Nintendo to succeed. Competition is healthy for the industry, and I still love Nintendo’s classic IPs...even if they’re becoming incredibly stale. As it stands, the Switch can either be a new beginning for Nintendo, or it may be its final nail in the coffin. Let’s hope for the former!
Game Genres Are Evolving
This isn’t a particular news story, but a general observation. 2016 was the year video game genres stepped outside the norm. Let’s look at Overwatch and Titanfall 2, for example. I have personally never been a big multiplayer gamer. I tend to enjoy single-player journeys, but Overwatch and Titanfall 2 have made me a convert. I’ve spend more time playing these two games online than any other single player game combined. Both game present a drastic change in how multiplayer is structured by providing a more balanced playing field for both newcomers and pros. The same innovation can be attributed to other genres, like RPGs, racing games and even many online casino games were very popular in 2016.
Forza Horizon 3, as yet another example, has elevated the open-world racing genre to new heights. Its world is unlike anything we’ve seen in the genre before, and even gamers who would never typically touch a racing game before were drawn to Forza Horizon’s superb gameplay and stunning environments.
While there are countless other stories that dominated media outlets in 2016, we want to leave the rest to our readers. The above stories are just some of the subjects that dominated our Game Scouts community in 2016, but we want to hear what stuck with you the most. Maybe there are some news stories that didn't get as much global attention, but are equally impactful and important? Let us know in the comments section below!