2017 has been a bit of wild ride, from new systems, new franchises, a lot of old franchises, incredible highs and some very deep lows.
If you were to really take away one from this year in gaming, it’s that new hardware came and really impressed the world.
Where the PS4 Pro was a relatively safe (And some would argue lacklustre) refresh of the PS4, the Xbox One X stormed ahead and probably could just be considered a new generation of hardware of its own. This machine has proven itself to be a real powerhouse, and a lot of people were doubting it, both in part to the Xbox One having lower sales than the PS4, but by no means bad, we should stress, and its high price leading to a question: Who is it for? For the enthusiast it has taken the crowd by surprise.
Also of note is the Nintendo Switch, a machine so many were down prior to launch, and coming off the back of the Wii U and 2016 had many wondering if Nintendo had a place in the market anymore, including its own software partners. While it had a quieter start, demand was high from the off, and only grew. The real story is how over 10 months the perspective changed from doom and gloom, to “Oh it’s only early success, itll fall off”, to “Itll be dead by Xmas”, to a quieter rumbling of things still left to improve. If that isn’t a turn around, who knows what is.
The 3DS also had a hot year with many in-demand games and its end of life revision in the New 2DS XL being released. The little handheld has some time left in the sun, but no more than a year or two.
The PS4 had a quieter year, if only because business as usual isn’t noteworthy. 70 million units out in the world now, 4 years in, that’s pretty good. PSVR also hit 2 million despite a lack of compelling software because…price cuts I suppose, but the VR competition is lagging behind, and the market shows a chance of stalling without further innovation and software.
Overall then, hardware wise, it has been a fantastic year with every company really on top of their hardware game.
On to software then, the success stories really come from Sony and Nintendo, with Sony opting to front load its year with first party releases and major third-party titles before dropping off and letting the maligned GT Sport and third party deals flood the latter half of the year. Additionally, press events like Paris Games Week and E3 left a lot to be desired. People can only see the same game so many times without a release date.
Nintendo maintained a steady stream of games for both systems throughout the year. Critical and commercial darlings flooded their hardware and third parties developer some strong showings for once, despite a lack of desire to do so early on. Furthermore, gamers proved receptive to the software, with titles like Splatoon 2, Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey setting records for their respective franchises.
Microsoft once again limped along on third-party offerings, but majority of sales were on PS4. Furthermore the cancellation of exclusives like Scalebound and closure of notable studios left the future in question, as well as delaying what few exclusives were planned to next year. Maybe it will pick up then.
The indie scene proved to be on fire with once again the Nintendo Switch dominating the stories there with very high indie sales. Steam fell behind in this regard and Sony seemingly lost interest, but the quality on display this year has been unmistakable.
Third parties as well proved a force to be reckoned with. If we ignore EA, as Mass Effect was a mess and their later games proved less than welcome with bad business decisions. Games like Nier, Nioh, Sonic Mania, Wolfenstein 2, Assassins Creed Origins, Mario + Rabbids, all proved surprise hits. Sure there were duds like Sonic Forces, but third parties not only showed renewed passion in their work, but renewed creativity.
Interestingly 2017 saw huge backlash against micro-transactions and lootboxes in gaming, as companies attempt to push them harder and harder into the core structure of games. This perhaps will be evidenced next year if more games opt to do this, and maybe this indicates a boom in the indie scene. Certainly “AA” games like Hellblade have shown they have a place, and companies like Square Enix have renewed interest in mid-range titles.
2017 will likely go down as a highlight year for the renewal of an industry that seemed to be struggling with staying fresh. Many companies came back from the brink and brought their A Game, and while there were some very loud duds from some, and some fresh controversy, it doesn’t drown out that regardless of what platform you choose, you had a fine year.
Except maybe Steam. I can’t see wading through that as fine. Seriously, sort that out Valve.
You’ll need to forgive me about this being a shorter piece. There isn’t much to say for this year beyond “It was really good”. Barring the issues around lootboxes later in the year and EA being EA…it’s been a fine year all around! So until next time, Happy Gaming!