2013: The Year Of…?
In hindsight it’s fairly easy to plop a term on the end of the phrase ‘The Year Of…’ and claim it as fact. 2012, for example, was The Year Of Kickstarter. Fact.
What is a little trickier is ability to predict a whole year before it even happens – the Mayans failed, after all – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few ideas of our own.
Here’s a summary of 2013 before it even happens, then. You can come back on 31 December and thank us.
2013: The Year Of…
…The Classic RPG
Gamers are bored of shooting things. Look at the FPS and third-person shooters released last year: how many have stayed around? How many have kept people talking? How many scored well?
In fact, just think about how few there were. Usually we’re swimming in identikit FPS games but last year was surprisingly limited in terms of total shooters released. Part of that is probably due to the fatigue we’re all feeling. Shooting things just isn’t as fun as it used to be.
And who’d’ve thought we would say that.
So we turn to a classic age of gaming, where RPGs ruled the roost and sensible, thoughtful decisions were the only way you and your party could survive.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition was just the beginning, and thanks to Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight and so many other indie alternatives we’re seeing the rise of the classic RPG.
Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, Dead State and countless others are all on their way, and we couldn’t be more excited.
…The PC Gamer
It happens towards the end of every console lifecycle, admittedly, but this time things are a little different. While console gamers argued over which version of a game has sexier pixels than the other, the PC crowd was quietly absorbing a revolution.
Indie games, digital distribution, modding. It’s all become easier to access, more useful to the typical gamer and with plenty of options for those who don’t want to just use Steam. The heathens.
What this means is that PCs are much more user-friendly than they used to be and before you know it you’ve witnessed a Steam sale and own 50 new games.
Add in the fact that PCs have been doing 1080p at 60FPS long before ‘next-gen’ was hoping to target that and you’ve got a surprisingly strong case for never needing a new console again.
Believe us on this: PC gaming is making a comeback – a proper comeback – and it won’t go away quite so easily when next-gen does finally roll around.
So, erm, yeah. That PC elitism just then? That was just for show. We love consoles really.
The noise surrounding the build up to next-gen is deafening, and it’s almost certain we’ll see something from at least Microsoft on its next Xbox. Maybe even Sony, if we’re lucky.
Microsoft’s Major Nelson recently posted a countdown to E3 2013 and while there’s no evidence to suggest this is in fact in anticipation of a next-gen announcement, it’s hard to speculate anything else. The timing is just right.
Does that mean we’ll see the Xbox 720 released this year? Almost certainly. If Microsoft announces its next-gen console at E3 2013, then expect it to be released within 3 to 5 months after. It’ll still want the Xbox 360 to thrive for as long as possible, so there will be a very small window between announcement and release.
As for Sony, it’ll want to get a console out as soon as it possibly can to compete with Microsoft but we just don’t see that happening this year. 2014 is Sony’s year, but at least rumours suggest the PS4 will be reasonably priced and might be able to compete.
Oh, and before you ask, we’re not counting the Wii U as next-gen. Sorry if that upsets you.
…The Digital Revolution
The foundations have already been set for digital distribution to really take off. Books, music and even films are already widely consumed digitally – with many actually opting for digital alternatives.
There’s a resistance from many gamers around digital distribution, but that’ll soon change. We’re not saying next-gen will disregard physical copies entirely, but digital will be far more present than ever this year.
Take Xbox Live, for example. Digital games are increasing in quality and even account for a lot of Microsoft’s games sales. They’re smaller games, but with smaller prices – and that’s enough to convince gamers that there’s a whole new market of video games to browse, outside of the identikit Call Of Duty copycats.
Sony in particular has really focused on the digital market, with its well-received Journey and The Unfinished Swan joining The Walking Dead in a number of Game Of The Year lists.
Even the majority of disc-based games get digital releases on the PSN Store, though Sony does need to clamp down on the greedy publishers placing their games on there for £49.99 – we’re not idiots, you know.
Not only that, but both Microsoft and Sony have additional media outside of gaming. Films and music can be enjoyed through similar services on both consoles, and that’s only going to help bolster the interest in digital.
Times they are a-changing, and digital will be at the forefront of it.
Some of you will scoff at this. ‘League Of Legends is played by ALL the people EVA’ you’ll probably say, and yes, you’re right – it is now the most played game in the world.
But for the wider community of gamers, the genre is still an unknown quantity. We very much doubt most gamers will know what a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena is, or what it entails.
With the release of Guardians Of Middle Earth on consoles, however, we’re seeing a wider appeal for the genre. It’s one that is notoriously tough to crack, and helping console gamers get to grips with the genre – whether they know it’s a MOBA or not – will really help its popularity increase.
Then there’s Valve’s DotA 2 or Blizzard All-Stars; two big-name developers pushing their own MOBA games. If anyone can make the genre popular, it’s these two.
So we urge you to take a look into the ever-deepening world of MOBA gaming – and, to an extent, the eSports culture that’s rising out of it – because this is going to be the Year Of The MOBA, and soon you won’t be able to move for a new entry into the genre.