With 2012 coming to an end, the Daily Reaction duo of Seb and Dan discuss the year, what they loved, what they hated and what went wrong.
Seb: 2012 was a real disappointment, with the financial strains on Sony starting to impact the games industry and the end of this gen really showing in the utter lack of new titles. We lost Zipper, developers of the incredible SOCOM series and we lost Sony Liverpool, the guys behind WipEout (and much, much more) – both of whom were working on PS4 games, so that’ll hurt gamers long term. We also lost Bigbig and PS-exclusive contracts with LightBox and Eat.Sleep.Play, impacting the number of games we’ll see for years to come. Meanwhile, countless third party developers have closed or downsized, with publishers investing more and more into social gaming or mobile gaming.
The Vita has also failed to meet Sony’s own sales expectations, with poor marketing and some terrible games like Declassified hampering the company’s efforts to show that it is a genuinely good handheld capable of epic games like Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush. There’s always the hope that 2013 will be better, but with only a handful of titles announced, it doesn’t look good.
What does look promising is cloud gaming, with Sony having bought Gaikai for $380 million as they eye up the opportunities in a potentially huge market. The success of PlayStation Cloud remains to be seen, but at least they’re making the right moves
Unfortunately, Sony’s AAA exclusive lineup this year wasn’t as strong as it was in 2009-2012. They started off reasonably strong with Twisted Metal and Starhawk (both again woefully under-advertised and sent out to die), but neither were exactly critical hits. In summer we had the oft-delayed and underwhelming Sorcery. Then, in the important Christmas period where Microsoft had Halo 4, they brought PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, LBP Karting and… Wonderbook. Some decent games, but nothing of the Uncharted or inFamous caliber we’re used to, suggesting that The Last of Us might have been originally planned for this year.
As for downloadable games, Sony was fantastic this year, pumping out hit after hit – notably the truly breathtaking Journey, as well as the epic The Unfinished Swan. Hopefully they can keep up this output in the years to come as it really shows how the future could be digital.
Dan: Sadly, it’s true that this year was a bit underwhelming on the retail space, but was really saved by the push in the digital space. Besides exclusives like Journey, and The Unfinished Swan, Sony did also have the hit by Telltale Games, a series that really did saturate every form of media in 2012. Also notably positive this year has been the inclusion of day one digital releases of retail titles from major publishers, a move that will hopefully be continued into 2013.
While the digital space did have a number of new IPs to highlight the year, retail seemed to mainly be a continuation of games we’ve seen throughout the generation. Ranging from the highly expected sequels of Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, to long awaited sequels like Borderlands 2 and Far Cry 3, 2012 was more about rounding out the years before it than it was blazing a trail. Luckily, on top of numerous sequels we saw this year, there have been a few reboots of old gems like Hitman, SSX, and XCOM, as well as the rare new games like Dishonored. This gave us a good amount of games to play throughout the year, but did not seem live up to the excitement of previous years, and instead just tied up loose threads.
The reason for the abundance of sequels we have seen this year could infact be due to the number of games that have been pushed out of their 2012 release window. Games like: Dust 514, Sly Cooper 4, DmC, Tomb Raider, Metro: Last Light, Ni No Kuni, Aliens: Colonial Marines and BioShock: Infinite, were all slated for this year, but were pushed back for various reasons. While a number of these games are also sequels and reboots, the likely quality of the titles cannot be dismissed, and have only shown that 2013 will be a much better year for games.
Besides the titles that came out during 2012, one of the biggest events of the year seems to have almost been forgotten – the Level-0 PS3 hack. This was the release of the Lvl0 keys to fully open up the PS3 to hackers, and circumvent all forms of firmware patches. This hack had serious ramifications to the millions of consoles sold, as well as the countless developers trying to make games for Sony’s platform. Yet, little information has surfaced outside of the hacking community, and could just be a bullet that luckily missed Sony.
While 2012 might not have been the best year for Sony and the games industry as a whole, there were a number of memorable events, and what seems like a lead into one of the best years we have seen to date. With the numerous delays, a push for digital content, cloud gaming on the horizon, next gen technology and a handheld waiting for love, the potential for 2013 is unparalleled. Let’s just hope it’s the one thing that can live up to the hype.