Back then it looked all so promising. When last year ended, my “game plan” - the list of games I’d buy in 2012 - was filled with great and interesting titles. Now, half a year later, the outlook is not so good, as the magic 8-ball would say. What happened?
First of all, so far it was a year of disappointments and bad news. The games that actually came out were more miss than hit: Syndicate, Mass Effect 3, and Silent Hill: Downpour, to name a few. The problem with all of those seems to be a rush out of the door, with too little time for polish, production and QA. Then there was a swath of games that promised nothing but established old formulaic approaches, samey-samey-ness and nothing really new.
Of course there were also bright spots. Journey was a fantastic experience. As was Binary Domain -- and that’s not a contradiction just because that one’s also a third person shooter. But while those were great games in their own right, they stood out for me the way they did simply because the competition was so meager, so disappointing, so lacking in edge and sense of wonder.
What initially looked like one of the best years in gaming with a dozen or so really innovative, interesting games quickly turned into what promises to be one of the least interesting years in a long time.
And then the cancellations and delays started to roll around. What initially looked like one of the best years in gaming with a dozen or so really innovative, interesting games quickly turned into what promises to be one of the least interesting years in a long time. Who’s to blame though? What caused this? Bioshock: Infinite was delayed from an October launch to February next year. Prey 2 is lost in development hell. X-Com, the one that’s not a re-heating of the old isometric strategy game, is delayed without a word on when 2K want to release it. Team ICO’s Last Guardian is equally delayed, and lost in development hell with the lead developers having left. Even long-awaited Xenomorphshoot Aliens: Colonial Marines is not going to crawl out of the wall this year. And then there was the most recent blow, when Sony and Naughty Dog announced that their at least somewhat innovative zombie apocalypse survival horror title The Last of Us would not see the light of day in 2012.
The last game that promises something more than yearly iterations or tried-and-true formulas is Dishonored, which as it seems is indeed still on track for an October release now. Bioshock Infinite is rumored to have been pushed out of the way of the impending release of the next Grand Theft Auto title, which hasn’t been confirmed yet. It’s also likely that this game was pushed out of the way of the release of Call of Duty Black Ops 2, which seemed to act with a push factor akin to Modern Warfare 2 back in 2009.
As for the holiday release cycle, this is actually a good thing, even if it could ruin this year. But that’s mostly due to this year’s games being a let-down so far. The big problem with the industry has always been that too many games are crammed into too few weeks of the year. It seems that at least some of the big ones up there have learned their lesson, for now at least. We’ll see how it looks next year.
The really interesting part here is that now 2013 looks like it could become the biggest year in gaming ever, due to games fleeing CoDBlOps2 and/or GTA V. Also, due to what many people (analysts included) think will be the year we’ll see the onset of a new console cycle. This year will probably go down as a slow year of nothing new on the gaming front, except the Mass Effect 3 ending outrage maybe. So there’s hope that we’ll see something meaningful and different again next year.