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,
While not as lively as 2015’s line up, 2016 still managed to kick off with a bang. The Witness made it’s way to PC & PS4 – arriving on Xbox One later in the year; previous Xbox One exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider launched on the PC; and in turn Gone Home and The Banner Saga, titles both previously only on PC, launched onto Sony & Microsoft’s home consoles. Other notable releases included Darkest Dungeon (PC), Oxenfree (PC, Xbox One), and The Westport Independent (PC); they were joined by award winning titles, That Dragon, Cancer & Punch Club.
- At the very start of the year it was confirmed by the director of FFXV that the game would definitely launch in 2016 -and that time they were actually right. Just think how crazy people would have seemed if they told you back at the start of the year that both FFXV and Last Guardian would launch in 2016.
- Garry’s Mod was confirmed as selling 10 million copies by the developer himself on Twitter, this was especially notable as that didn’t include players who had got the game for free before it became a paid for title.
- Oculus Rift had its launch price confirmed as pre-orders opened up in early January; at the time there was a lot of positive feelings about the hardware despite its price, this would change as it launched later in the year and debate started regarding its isolated ecosystem.
- MLG was acquired by Activision Blizzard; the broadcaster, whose website is -at time of writing- building up to Call of Duty and Overwatch tournaments, was acquired for an unspecified amount, giving a platform to Acti-Bliz that was already serving over 100-million unique viewers a year.Prior to their acquisition MLG had been independent and operational for over twelve years.
- Later in the month Vivendi, who had previously been the majority shareholder of Acti-Blizz sold up their remaining shares in the company; they also made a further move on Ubisoft, in what would be the start of a worrying year for Ubisoft’s independence.
- Hironobu Sakaguchi indicated to Famitsu (story via Siliconera) that he would be beginning work on a new title during 2016; the teaser image released looked very similar to the font used in his Xbox 360 exclusive Lost Odyssey. The father of Final Fantasy has, however, remained quiet throughout 2016, although both Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon were released onto Xbox One’s Back Cat service.
- United Front Games shut down their Triad Wars servers due to low levels of interest; the title had been a free-to-play title set in the Sleeping Dogs universe. The studio would return later in the year with rioting-inspired Smash+Grab, before closing their doors in October.
- FNaF World, the fifth entry in the two-year-old series, launched early; jumping the gun on it’s previously planned February launch date. Issues with the game led to it being pulled before later returning to stores as a freeware title in the month originally intended for its launch.
- John Smedley, the former CEO of Daybreak Game Company (Nee Sony Entertainment Online) took his new studio Pixelmage Games’ first title to Kickstarter. The title, Hero’s Song, was pulled a week later as the developer did not feel that the games funding had enough momentum. At time of closing the game had earned 136k of it’s 800k goal. At point of cancellation the developer reported that they had received full funding from elsewhere. Hero’s Song would later launch on Steam Early access in early November.
- Pixel Privateers was revealed by Re-Logic & Quadro Delta (Terraria, Pixel Piracy respectively) with a trailer highly detailed -and promising- as well as a clear statement of intent to launch in Q1 2016. After silence on the release date as new features racked up the developers confirmed (in September) that the game was now to be expected in 2017.
- GOG launched it’s own take on Valve’s Early Access platform, titled ‘Games in Development’, in an attempt to welcome high profile development titles to the platform, while attempting to remove the negative reactions that sometimes come to titles in such a state; namely consumers not understanding that the product is not v1.0. They also included a 14 day cooling off period for consumers buying into the system.
- Arcen Games launched Starward Rogue to critical acclaim, however the game was –according to the developers– lost in a sea of releases. As they had budgeted the game so tightly staff were expecting to be paid with revenues from sales. Those sales didn’t come, with the game only selling approximately 2’100 copies in its launch week. Some respite did come for the company later in the year as they turned to crowdfunding for a sequel to AI War, which has currently raised just shy of $100k.
- Ubisoft began legal proceedings against EA who were attempting to trademark the term Ghost in relation to gaming on the grounds that newly formed Ghost Studios (who took over the Need for Speed mantle from Criterion) would need their identity secured. Ubisoft’s counter was that the trademark could cause conflict with their Ghost Recon series; a valid point.2016 was an odd year with this sort of things, as Sony had filed to claim “Let’s Play” earlier in the years to a backlash, while in YouTube territory the Fine Brothers attempted to hammer in exclusive rights to reaction videos, and Nintendo became notorious for shutting down fan productions. EA backed down on the trademark claim in late Feb.
As for Big Boss Battle? We weren’t here yet. In January 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.