Gaming in Review | February 2016

The gaming industry remains one of the fastest evolving industries in the world, one that constantly adapts, and one that is increasingly expanding its reach and grasp on the citizens of the world’s free time. As such, there’s rarely a month go by which can be called a bad month in the industry, especially not when we look at it as players rather than puppet-masters and suits. 

To wave out the old, and welcome in the new we’ll be going through some of the defining factors of each of the months of the year. We’ll be listing some of the games that launched, discussing some of the events that happened, and discussing some of the implications that they had throughout the year, or might have going into the next.

So, without further ado, 

February 2016

February was a month won over by digital downloads. Titles such as Firewatch (PS4, PC),  Unravel (Xbox One, PS4, PC), Layers of Fear (Xbox One, PS4, PC), Superhot (PC), Stardew Valley (PC), and Soul Axiom (PC), were great sellers. They were joined by the Xbox One version of Rocket League, the bitesize Elite Dangerous: Arena for PC, and the long awaited Cobalt (Xbox One, PC) which was originally announced back in 2013.

The fantastic XCOM 2 released for PC in February as well; it would later release on PS4 & Xbox One in late September. An interesting marketing campaign included Fred Dinenage from ITV’s How 2 (and later Gareth Jones) marked the start of a good year of UK games marketing choices – although I do hold that the Chuckle Brothers Hitman one was the best.

  • Nintendo reported a 30+% drop in profits year-on-year for Q3 ’15. Although it should be added this was still a generous $336M. The platform holder’s 2015 and 2016 were marked with diminishing sales figures, and major investment shifts as a result of the loss of Iwata in 2015, as well as a shift to new platforms in their Mobile titles, and later their Switch announce.
  • Nearly a year on from Unreal Engine 4 being released for free (but royalty-based) use – which happened in March ’15. Greenlight, and other platforms filled up with titles made using the engine. Most notable was the sudden appearance of not one, but two WWII set first person shooters. Battalion 1944 and later, Days of War. Both proclaimed a rejection of modern shooter mechanics, looking to bring back the earlier setting, more lethal weapons, and a more team orientated style of play.As it turns out they were not alone in their attempts, Insurgency later received a free reskin mod (Day of Infamy) focused on the era; Gaijin announced a new title, Enlisted; and of course Battlefield One was set in the earlier, WWI Era.
  • Nordic Games, who as of August renamed themselves THQ Nordic, picked up a selection of Digital Reality IPs, including Imperium Galactica, and Sina Mora. The company regularly obtains older IPs, its more notorious ones being when they obtained a bucket-load from the THQ auctions, however they also hold rights to a few Atari titles including Desperadoes.In October they also acquired the Novalogic franchises. The developer-cum-publisher confirmed in August that they had 23 titles under development, including several redux.
  • Mad Catz announced that it would need to reduce its workforce by over a third following low sell-through on the reborn Rock Band IP. They had invested a lot of money and resources into the peripheral-heavy title, which to most seemed like a solid move considering that the music & rhythm genre had abruptly ended due to oversaturation a few years prior, leaving what should have been a profitable vacuum.
  • Amazon released their new engine, Lumberyard, for free. The engine is a modified version of Crytek’s Cryengine – reportedly (Kotaku) obtained during a moment of financial weakness at Crytek during 2015. The developer spent 2016 further haunted by this, with December pockmarked with reports (Kotaku) of unpaid staff and major studio closures. This follows on from a transition to FtP & VR focused development at the studio, who have a rather vague launch schedule for the years ahead. (Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded, TBC)
  • Zombie Survival title H1Z1 divided into two titles; H1Z1 King of the Kill, an online shooter, and -the more true to origins- H1Z1: Just Survive, as a survival title. The change was made that the title might spread to more formats – H1Z1 being developed by Daybreak Game Company (Formerlly Sony Entertainment Online) and having only been on the PC platform since Jan ’15 despite Sony’s intentions to bring the game to consoles as soon as possible.H1Z1: King of the Kill was planned, on that announcement, to launch in Summer onto PS4, Xbox One & PC. However, the title’s console plans are currently on hold even there, due to the team wanting to focus more on the PC build before moving staff over to console.

As for Big Boss Battle? We weren’t here yet. In February both Ben and I were still writing and creating for a different website, in fact the site -as you see it- only formally launched in May of this year.

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