7 Things We Learned in 2014: The Year In Gaming

December 19, 2014

Another year, another awesome twelve months of gaming! From surprise hits like Broforce to Kickstarter titles like Broken Age, this past year saw yet another growth in indie games.

Heck, we even got the Goat Simulator game we never knew we wanted.

Plenty of anticipated big-budget games finally saw release, including Watch Dogs, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Dark Souls II. And of course, we finally got to see if either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 could convince players that being early adopters was completely worth it.

What better way to ring in the new year as a gamer than by looking back on 2014 and seeing what we learned from our ever-evolving industry.

A Console’s First Year Is Typically Its Worst

2013 was the Wii U’s first year on the market and, aside from a few titles like Pikmin 3 and Super Mario 3D World, it was pretty forgettable. However, its second year has proven entirely different with games like DKC: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Super Smash Bros. finally giving Wii U owners excellent games to play.

It’s now the end of 2014 and for many, Xbox One and PS4 ended up suffering the same fate. The first year has left much to ask for as some of the best games are either remakes or titles you can play on last-gen consoles as well. The Last of Us Remastered, Halo: Master Chief Collection, and GTA V are the top examples.

However, we can expect 2015 to be a tremendous year for gaming with titles like Batman: Arkham Knight, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Evolve arriving- and that’s just 3rd party! We’ll also be getting the 1st party heavy-hitters like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Halo 5: Guardians. Those of you that waited a year before getting the new consoles have little to regret.

Virtual Reality May Be Here To Stay

Although the Oculus wowed everyone in 2013 with the best VR experience we’ve seen since the virtual boy (that was a joke), most thought it would be a fad. Instead, other companies like Sony are taking a stab at virtual reality gaming with their own devices.

Imagine playing Alien: Isolation and listening to haunting noises all around you, or flying through the skies in EVE: Valkyrie as ships and obstacles zoom past you in every direction. The fact is, those that have tried the Oculus Rift and other VR devices can’t stop praising how incredible it feels to feel like you’re actually in the game.

It seems virtual reality is finally being done right and could prove to be the next evolution in gaming.

Who Knew Toy + Game Hybrids Would Be A Hit?

Activision did, apparently.

The Skylanders series has proven an immense hit by selling millions of copies and figures since hitting store shelves. Few could predict how popular the idea of having a toy that interacts with a video game would be, and Activision’s risk was definitely worth it. Disney Infinity is also finding success with their own figurines such as the Marvel superhero toys.

Even Nintendo is jumping into the toy/game craze with their own line of figurines named Amiibo. These have potential to be an even bigger hit as they’re not only based on iconic characters like Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, and Pikachu, but they can also be used for more than one game.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before Sony and Microsoft also unleash their own game toys, no doubt to the dismay of parents everywhere.

Games Are Still Being Rushed Out To Market

It’s no secret that today’s big-budget games take years to make and cost a small fortune to develop. Maybe this is why publishers and developers are so anxious to pump out titles every year to make the most out of the legion of fans they’ve acquired over the years.

However, when games are released buggy and clearly lacking polish, players start to lose trust. This has been happening often with AAA games lately, the most notable example of 2014 being Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Instead of being the true next-gen action-adventure experience we’ve been waiting for, it was mostly a glitch-infested mess.

We know developers work hard to deliver great games just in time for the holidays, but gamers are getting tired of paying $60 for seemingly unfinished titles.

We Should Still Expect Multiplayer Issues

Remember when Battlefield 4 released last year only to deliver one of the most broken multiplayer experiences we’ve seen in a newly-launched game? Fans weren’t too happy when instead of receiving a fun multiplayer experience, they got client crashes, extreme server lag, and game breaking bugs.

Here we are a year later reliving the same thing with Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One. Matchmaking issues on launch prevented most players from enjoying the online modes, which is a huge bummer considering Halo multiplayer is awesome.

We can only hope that less high-profile games suffer online and multiplayer issues on launch, even if it means taking more development time.

Dedicated Gaming Handhelds Are Not Dead Yet…

Many predicted a dire fate for both the 3DS and PS Vita thanks to an incredible rise in smartphone gaming popularity in the last few years. Instead, the 3DS is shaping up to be Nintendo’s most successful handheld in a long time while the often-criticized PS Vita isn’t doing too bad either.

Although most of us enjoy some of the minute-killing games littering the App Store and Android gaming market, there’s still something about playing big-budget games while on the go that we love. And for that you need a handheld designed specifically for gaming, complete with plenty of buttons, thumbsticks, and more than a touch screen.

Those of us who still prefer rich, lengthy experiences while on the go have nothing to fear as gaming handhelds aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

…And Neither Is Nintendo

Remember all the doom and gloom comments and articles littering gaming sites all of 2013? You may be surprised to know that this happens every few years, actually. For whatever reason, Nintendo is a favorite target for would-be fortune tellers that happen to know the Japanese giant is nearing its end as a prominent game hardware developer.

And who could blame them? Despite the 3DS having plenty of success, 2013 was certainly a forgettable year for Nintendo due to poor Wii U sales across the globe. A lack of titles is to blame, as well as failure to gain interest when the next Playstation and Xbox consoles were just around the corner.

In 2014, however, the Wii U became a must-have gaming system. The library of high-quality games is now very impressive, even more due to the fact that several exclusive Wii-U games released this past year received near-perfect scores.

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What’s To Come?

Even with all the ups and downs and controversies, 2014 was a great year for the gaming industry. We’ve seen plenty of new trends and continuing old ones.

So what’s to come in 2015? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.