We are going to take a look at the trends in video games for 2014, the good, the bad and the ugly.
1.The Curious Case of Cloaked Heroes
You can’t tell a book by it’s cover, but you can definitely tell that big cloaks, capes and trench coats were in fashion for the heros on the jackets of video games in 2014. Shadow of Mordor, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft all sported dramatic outerwear. To make it even more mysterious, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Destiny and Dark Souls had the lead character facing away from us.
2. Betas are the new Demos
I remember how a few years ago, before we started Girls on Games, I would scour the PlayStation store looking for demos to test the waters of a game before laying down my hard earned cash. Those small slices of games have become rare as of late. Betas (and Alphas) on the other hand have really exploded on consoles. Though an old practice to PC gamers, with the growth of online play, developers are using the public to test out their games and infrastructure so that the shit doesn’t hit the fan on launch day. And we gamers love it. As soon as a beta is announced, we all flock to our computers and sign up with the hopes and dreams of getting that elusive invite. Evolve, Destiny, The Crew, Halo 5 and Project Spark all had betas this year and in my opinion, Halo: The Master Chief Collection could have used one. The duration of a beta is always awesome for a game’s publicity online. Lots of twitch streams and the game is usually trending on twitter. Some even have their own hashtag (#EvoleBigAlpha was one I used a lot). The betas are not always fun though; the downloads can be huge, the wait times long and sometimes you get booted from the servers in the middle of a match. It’s just the price we pay to try a game for free before it launches.
3. Failure to Launch
Let’s play a game: What does Assassin’s Creed Unity, Halo The Master Chief Collection and DriveClub have in common? If you guessed anything along the lines of “broken”, you’re right, and high five to you. Whether these games encountered unforeseen problems, or were just rushed to hit shelves as quickly as possible, their releases were disastrous. Halo: MCC was by far the biggest letdown of 2014. The game’s multiplayer was basically DOA, leaving many fans and newcomers to the franchise to lose faith in one of gaming’s biggest names. Yet, we can credit i343 for their quick response and effort to fix the problems, especially in comparison to Playstation’s DriveClub that is still, three months later, riddled with online complications. As for ACU, Ubisoft recently released a whopping 6.7GB patch, and some Xbox One owners are claiming that the “patch” is an incomprehensible 40GB. What the hell happened, 2014?
2014 also saw it’s fair share of gaming disappointments. Titles like Destiny or Watch Dogs were overhyped prior to its release, and resulted in disappointment, while others were either broken or sorely lacking in content, such as NHL 15 and the Sims 4. Though our advent of technology can function to rectify these issues through updates, DLCs, patches, etc, it’s still disappointing to spend a good chunk of change on a game that isn’t completed upon release.
5. The World Is Watching
Social video platform for gamers, Twitch, really established it’s popularity this year in the gaming community. Between the latest consoles adding twitch streaming as a feature and Amazon buying the platform for $970 million, twitch is now the main tool that connects gamers across the globe. According to Business Insider, Twitch has 55 million unique users and actually functions as a lucrative business for both esports organizations and professional gamers. It’s also a great way to scope out games before purchase and discuss them with those who are already playing them. If you want to see more cool stats about Twitch in 2014, go here.
6. eSports (Digital Athletes)
2014 was also a good year for Esports (competitive gaming). While it’s always been popular in certain parts of Asia for a while, it’s beginning to spread like wildfire in North America, no doubt due to the accessibility and popularity of Twitch. Even Montreal, through the Loto-Quebec World Games Event, hosted their very first Esports World Cup event with CS:GO, Call of Duty and Just Dance. While the one held in Montreal was relatively small as it was its first year, if you look at championships across the globe, the events fill up stadiums that have a capacity for thousands of people. This month’s League of Legends championship drew in 27 million people, while i343 hosted a competitive tournament in honor of Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s release. According to Geekwire, more than 71 million people watch Esports across all games.
7. Re-masters and Re-releases
2014 could be easily dubbed “The Year of the Re-masters and Re-releases”. While some are really awesome, such as the HD remastering of 1996’s Resident Evil, others leave you scratching your head (I’m looking at you Devil May Cry HD). Whether you’re excited to play games you’ve missed out on, or muttering curses about the lack of new IPs, this trend is most likely going to continue into the new year.
8. Indie Games
The indie gaming scene, while steadily gaining steam over the last few years, has really cemented it’s popularity in 2014. Between the surprising hit of Ubisoft Montreal’s indie-style Child of Light, Xbox’s commitment to support indie developers through ID@Xbox and the amount of fantastic kickstarter projects out of Montreal’s flourishing gaming community, indie gaming has finally found it’s way this year amongst the AAA pillars.
9. Gaming for Charity
This year has also seen an upswing in gaming for charity. With organizations such as Awesome Games Done Quick, Child’s Play and Extra Life gaining visibility and popularity in 2014, gamers are transforming their hobby into social movements that actually helps others. Since it’s inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised 8 million dollars, 4 million which is solely attributed to 2013 (the 2014 numbers are not in yet). We at Girls on Games participated this year in Extra Life’s 24 hour gaming event, and we raised over $7000 for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Gamers, we did good this year.