2015 in Review

2015 was a year in gaming that occurred. Things happened. Before we move on to the New Year wholly, we should look back at those things, whether it be to remember the good times, curse the bad times, or laugh at Konami, cause #FuckKonami. So put on the old Bob Dylan record, reminisce about the days when Assassin’s Creed mattered, and sit back as we recant the year, in 15 sections, as it was 2015. They will be as followed, so if for some reason you’d like to skip ahead (I don’t judge, much) then go right ahead.

Sections:

1: Following in THQ’s Footsteps: Notable Studio Shutdowns

2: In Memoriam: Satoru Iwata

3: The Console Wars: Updating the Status of the Most Meaningless Debate in Gaming

4: Stock Watch: How is your Favorite Yearly Series Faring?

5: Ebert was Wrong: Excellence in Narrative Gaming

6: Ebert Was Right: The Worst of Gaming

7:  The Pitchford Award: Excellence in Mechanics

8: Appreciate them Dammit!: Best Vocal Performance

9: I Need Friends?!?!: The Advent of Multiplayer-Only

10: Alpha Architect: How Prison Architect Succeeded in Early Access

11: I Can Fix It… For A Price: Mods and the Idea of Paying for Them

12: EA and Friends: Other companies that screwed up not named Konami

13: #FuckKonami: Remembering all the nonsense Konami pulled this Year

14: A Glimmer of Hope: Promising Changes in the Industry

15:  Thank You

 

1) Following in THQ’s Footsteps: Notable Studio Shutdowns:

There are generally two reasons a studio gets shut down. Either they failed to generate profit due to bloated production costs or unsuccessful games, or they were bought by EA and the behemoth decided that they looked quite tasty and consumed them. Both are tragic, and it’s always good to look back and honor those we have lost, even if they may be lived on through their developers heading to other projects. The studios are listed in order of being shut down.

Zombie Studios 1994- 2015

This one was quite the sad affair, as it wasn’t really due either of the major reasons. Instead, the owner retired, leaving one of the more storied and successful PC developers dead in the ground. This particular studio was responsible for the long running series ‘Spec Ops’ as well as numerous other games over the years. The studio seemed to hit its stride most recently, with successful releases of ‘Spec Ops: The Line’, the equivalent of ‘Heart of Darkness’ as a shooter, and ‘Blacklight: Retribution’. Perhaps one of the less tragic deaths, as a good chunk of the developers went on to form Hardsuit Labs, which continues to develop for ‘Blacklight: Retribution’ as well as porting over ‘Chivalry: Medieval Warfare’ to the new generation of consoles. Ultimately, a studio that will be missed, but found a way to live on despite being shut down.

Maxis 1987-2015

This one was due to the second reason mentioned, the evil juggernaut that is EA. A year after shutting down Mythic Entertainment, EA shut down one of the more storied developers it’s bought over the years. Maxis brought us the brilliant game series ‘SimCity’ and subsequently ‘The Sims’. I think it’s fair to say that they were one of the top developers of simulation games, all told. The only notable new creation under EA, besides ‘The Sims’, would be ‘Spore’ though the game was met with mixed responses to say the least. All in all, a promising studio that helped revolutionize the way we look at games. Unfortunately, the remnants of the studio, after being shut down, were assigned to the mobile division of EA, a fate worse than death.

2K Australia 2000-2015

Originally founded as the second half or Irrational Games, this studio was the last AAA developer in Australia at the time of its closing. perhaps part of its downfall, as one of the main reasons cited for it being shut down was the high costs of operating in Australia. While the studio was never really known for its independent work, its biggest release ‘Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel’ was considered to be pretty bad, they co-developed all three of the ‘Bioshock’ games, as well as contributed to ‘The Bureau: XCOM Declassified’. Perhaps not the biggest wealth of talent among this list, but it does show the struggle that studios can have when situated outside of the US or Europe.

Spark Unlimited 2002-2015

Of all the studios on this list, I doubt Spark Unlimited will be missed. Their “best” game was ‘Call of Duty: Finest Hour’ back in 2004. They also released ‘Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z’ and ‘Lost Planet 3’. Both sucked, both could be considered some of the worst games of their year. It’s sad that people lost their jobs, but Spark Unlimited is just not a studio that brought much to the table. Hopefully, the developers went on to do better things, as this studio never really released a game I would call good.

Finally, just a pair of studios to mention that had little impact in general to the readership, but were closed. Namely the Los Angeles division of Konami, responsible for MGSV Online, and 2K China. Neither are really all that important on their own, they were more extensions of more vital studios, but it’s always sad to see jobs go.

 

2) In Memoriam: Satoru Iwata:

Listen, not everyone loves Nintendo. Plenty of people may also think that Iwata’s later business decisions for the company are part of the reason it’s struggling to remain relevant. You may even blame him for the Kinect being a thing, his implementation of motion control in the Wii leading Microsoft to try and compete. But one thing that cannot be denied was his passion and love for games. When I look at the CEO of EA, I know exactly what his first priority is: squeezing as much money out of a product and the people making it as possible. While Iwata may have been trying to make a profit as well, he did it through the simple philosophy of making products, specifically games, that he would enjoy just as much as those he sold them to. There was always an energy and a passion to the man, something that helped make him one of the most unique CEO’s in the industry, as well as one of Nintendo’s most memorable.

If I had to encapsulate the man in one word, which might be unfair as I didn’t know him personally, it would be the word ‘Fun’. In an industry caught up in realism and adult stories, which isn’t a negative thing, Iwata seemed to be one of the few caught up in the pure and respectable idea that games were made to spread joy. Agree or not with that sentiment, you have to respect the intention of it. There are few developers out there that use the word with as much regularity as he did, let alone CEO’s of major games companies. Iwata was one of the best people in the industry, whether you consider him successful or not is another matter, but Iwata remains a shining example of putting vision ahead of pure statistics. He was, and always will be, missed.

 

3) The Console Wars: Updating the Status of the Most Meaningless Debate in Gaming:

Statistics are not fun to find, let me tell you that. It’s quite easy to find the perecentage of people who OWN a console, but not the specific market share of each one. Nonetheless, the best report I could find, compiling all the data from quarterly sales report, was from around June. Now, could I do my own calculations on the most recent finance reports and find the amount of units sold? Yes. Am I going to? No. So, as of June 2015, let’s check in on the race between two outdated concepts, two gaming platforms that aren’t the PC. Also, the Wii U is involved, in case one if its eight owners cared to know how many others accidentally bought the Wii U using Amazon’s One Click to Buy button.

As of June, the PS4 had outsold the Xbox One by about 10 to 12 million (!!!). Yea, unlike the relatively close race that was the PS3 vs Xbox 360, this has been a bit of a snoozer. Just to recap, the PS4 has sold about 25.3 million units as of June, while the Xbox One has sold anywhere between 13.3 to 15.3 million units. Trailing behind by a fair bit, the Wii U sold about 10.02 million units as of June 2015. Yea, not the greatest year for Nintendo or Microsoft. What’s perhaps most interesting however is that PC sales are steadily increasing, due in part to the idea that PC users outspend console gamers by quite a bit. This is also helped by gaming in both India and China, which is dominated by PC gaming. That concludes the annual update of the most pointless console war yet with the annual reminder, “Buy a PC”.

 

4) Stock Watch: How is your Favorite Yearly Series Faring?

Yearly Series are still a thing. In fact, there seems to be an insistence by certain companies that every series must be a yearly one, I’m looking at you Ubisoft, and this is the perfect time to see just how well the future of that series is looking. We’ll be doing that in the form of a ‘Stock Watch’, essentially whether the value of that series is ‘rising’ ‘holding steady’ or ‘falling’. Let’s begin with everyone’s favorite…

Call of Duty ~ Rising

Yea, it makes no sense to me either. After releasing ‘Black Ops 3’ to a collective “meh” Activision reported that the newest installment had the highest “player engagement” of any Call of Duty on record, with the game outdoing the last two installments profits-wise by quite a bit. Listen, ‘Call of Duty’ remains to be one of the most profitable ventures ever, and this year is no different. In fact, it just seems to show that there’s little one can do to slow the behemoth down. It just goes to show that in the end, the formula they’ve concocted appeals to a broad scope of gamers, and it’s hard to bet against the annual juggernaut. In a world saturated with those berating the yearly series, ‘Call of Duty’ remains standing, despite claims that it simply couldn’t.

Sports Games ~ Holding Steady

Listen, if you’re a sports games fan, you probably end up buying each iteration. That’s not a wholly bad thing, even if the price of such an update does seem to be exaggerated, but it goes to show the loyalty that games such as ‘Madden’ have bred. There’s not much to say here. These games continue to grow, especially by bringing in Sports Fans to the world of gaming, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t call their stock rising, as each of them continue to be criticized for their mechanics and lack of innovation, though ‘MLB: The Show’ may be the exception to that. Thus, they retain themselves as solid bets to make a large amount of money.

Mario and its Spinoffs ~ Holding Steady

Simply put, the ‘Mario’ franchise may be the only thing keeping the Wii U relevant to the gaming industry. Suffice it to say, that the only reason ‘Mario’ isn’t rising is due to the fact that Nintendo simply doesn’t develop for anything other than its own consoles. It’s quite hard for a game to sell if it’s on a console that holds such a small share of the market. That being said, ‘Mario’ is an annual bet to make money, as almost everyone who owns a Wii U buys it, and that’s why it quite easily finds itself holding steady.

Assassin’s Creed ~ Falling

It doesn’t take a prophet to divine that this series was going to fall from its perch. The only thing that seemed to provide a jolt of life was the introduction of naval combat in ‘Black Flag’. There is no nice way to put it, but spinning out the same mechanics, which were never all that good in the first place, with the same contrived plot does not lead to a better sales. Eventually, people are going to want something new, and Ubisoft hasn’t obliged, leading to the series struggling massively. Even ‘Call of Duty’ has innovated on their game, with futuristic gadgets and jet packs, which is helped by the fact that ‘Call of Duty’ was a solid base game. Now all that’s left is to wonder how many more ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games will be released before it’s discontinued or put on hiatus. My guess is two more before they stop throwing money away.

 

5) Ebert was Wrong: Excellence in Narrative Gaming:

Before his tragic death, Roger Ebert pissed of quite a few gamers with the statement that games could never be art, going over examples from a TED Talk that featured some pretty bad games. Who knows, and who cares whether his mind would be changed nowadays, but I think it would be quite good to look over some of the cream of the crop, in terms of narrative games this year. No, Undertale is not included. I haven’t had the chance to play it long enough to judge it properly, please don’t shoot me. That being said, let’s look at some of the best achievements in narrative this year.

The Beginner’s Guide

Excellently using the idea of misunderstanding the purpose of a piece of art, the game uses the player to help prove this idea through narration. I can’t express how much I love this game’s use of an unreliable narrator to help get across its message. It uses literary mechanics that haven’t been used in games before, and adapts them quite well, using the player’s interactivity to help further the use of these mechanics. Listen, it might not have received the universal acclaim of ‘Undertale’, but I still contend  that after having played both, this is the more revolutionary use of mechanics, as it seemingly doesn’t have any interactivity. A must buy if you enjoy a good story with a subtle message.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

I will never stop going on about how great this game is. Ever. No, it isn’t the perfect story. Women aren’t portrayed in the best light, though they aren’t just sex objects, there seems to be a lack of good people in the world, and the politics can tend to be a bit confusing, but it is still the best fantasy story in gaming ever. Every character has their own story, every mechanic has been well thought out and the lore and repercussions for being used, and in general, every thread of this game has a story. There are very few moments of laziness or repetition, and most quests had compelling and interesting backstory to them. A masterpiece in storytelling, something for fantasy games to look up to for years to come.

Telltale’s Game of Thrones

I know, I know. There were so many problems with this series. Whether it was certain characters lagging behind in different episodes, or a rather unsatisfactory conclusion to certain arcs. That being said, there were moments that really made the entire experience worth it. The game differed from other Telltale entries, in that its decisions seem to have a much more long term impact. There are still major focal points, but the fate of major characters often were decided by your decisions, and this leads to a rather compelling plot. A lot of the problems this series had needs to be addressed in Season 2, but there were too many bright spots to leave it off this list, even if most people would disagree with that sentiment.

 

6) Ebert Was Right: The Worst of Gaming:

Conversely, gaming is likely one of the few art forms that can consistently produce this much crap. Whether it be the pure amount of awful games released on Steam, or simply the over-hyped trash that AAA publishers release with alarming regularity, this year was full of terrible games. Instead of listing them, I’d like to discuss the effect they have on gaming. A bad game being released does no harm, especially because of the wonderful idea of refunds, but a trend of bad games certainly harms everyone.

The biggest culprit has been Steam. Through Greenlight, thousands of games that are either broken, completely free of redeeming qualities, or are simply Unity Packs, have been released on Steam. The problems of this are twofold. Firstly, the once great marketing tool of getting onto Steam has been diminished. Steam was once hard to get on to, and by allowing this many games on to the platform, the mark of honor has become an industry standard. While this has allowed some of the good games that never made it on to the service before to get on to Steam, it has reduced the impact of being on Steam. Frankly, Steam is now a given, rather than something that’s earned. Secondly, it muddles the Indie scene. It’s a lot harder to find some of the gems of the industry among all the trash that has been allowed on. While shining examples have still found success, for every story of major success there are three more of good games simply never being seen. It’s a sad reality of the harmful nature of these so called ‘developers’ releasing their games on Steam, they simply crowd the space and divert attention from those who deserve it.

The other source of bad games is slightly different in its effect, though that effect has not been proven yet. I am referring to, of course, the immense hype of games that simply can’t live up to that hype. This includes ‘Watch Dogs’ and ‘Battlefield:Hardline’, both games that let a lot of people down after promising to be a lot more than they actually were. There’s nothing absolutely wrong with either, they were both average to above average games, but both promised the world and fell short. This does little to help build consumer trust, as it’s quite easy to erode with all the stunts that AAA publishers pull nowadays. Simply put, it’s not good to erode consumer trust by lying, and to continue to do so can only hurt the industry, with consumers becoming more stingy with their money, leading to more candidates for the Studio Graveyard section next year. For every CD Projekt Red delivering on promises, there seems to be a Ubisoft, consistently failing expectations. Hopefully, 2016 does away with that trend.

 

7) The Pitchford Award: Excellence in Mechanics:

Based off of another brilliant quote, though this one just sparked groans and laughs for the most part, we move forwards to excellence in game mechanics. Pitchford once called ‘Aliens: Colonial Marines’ successful as it elicited a response, even if it was a negative one. Yes, he’s a paid employee, a highly paid one in fact. Anyway, to show dear Randy Pitchford what an actual good game looks like, here are the best mechanically sound games of 2015. If it’s not included, I didn’t play it, so games like ‘Just Cause 3’ and MGS are not in this section.

The Witcher 3

An opportunity to praise this game more? Hell yes! Whether it’s the broad strokes, with intuitive swordplay and masterful implementation of signs, or the more subtle touches, using bows to bring down flying enemies to melee combat or the seamless attacks after rolling, ‘The Witcher 3’ improves the rather mediocre system that was in place in the previous installment. If you want an example of an RPG with a balanced combat system that rewards the player for not simply absorbing blows, look no further than ‘The Witcher 3’. Both the mobs of enemies and the bosses provide unique challenges that can be overcome in a variety of intuitive methods set in place by its mechanics.

Rocket League

It was funny looking at The Game Awards and seeing that the only non-serialized game in the Sports section was this one. That’s simply because Rocket League brilliantly melded intense racing mechanics with physics based ball scoring nonsense. While providing an intense experience for the most casual payer, it also manages to provide a very skillful one to the more competitive player, with the mechanics of boost and wall-riding allowing for skillful trick shots and masterful use of flying to better gain possession of the ball. Listen, I suck at this game, but it’s one of those games where every skill level still allows for amazing and intense moments. One of the best displays of mechanics this year, something to learn fom if you’re intent on having whacky physics in your game.

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

An excellent lesson on how to innovate upon an existing idea, this game marginally beats out ‘The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth’, partially because it seems like a copout to pick a game that was simply a remake of an older version, not to take anything away from ‘Rebirth’. That being said, ‘Vermintide’ takes the ‘Left 4 Dead’ formula and adds to it, not only making the characters function together with more specific identities, but also adding a fresh twist with visceral and exciting melee combat. In addition, it implements a persistent loot system that finds a way to be fair to all classes, as well as instituting a risk and reward system in game, making the experience exciting and tense every time around. A gold standard for co-op and one of the first times someone has done it better than ‘Left 4 Dead’.

 

8) Appreciate them Dammit!: Best Vocal Performance:

I swear this isn’t an awards show! That being said, here’s another award, this one given out to one person, as it feels more fitting to do so. In an industry that hardly appreciates the impact of vocal talent, look at ‘The Walking Dead’, we here at Gaming Respawn like to recognize that talent. Vocal performances in games are just as important as those in animated movies. The right one can make the character come to life, while a bad one can make the entire game seem rather corny. It’s not easy to be a good voice actor/actress, seriously start paying them more games studios, so despite numerous deserving candidates here, I’ve singled out Doug Cockle of ‘The Witcher 3’

Yes, I know, another award, but this one is more a lack of standout examples this year. Doug Cockle manages to take a character that lacks emotions and somehow adds emotions through very subtle inflections. There are moments where Geralt is humorous, remorseful, angry, happy, and romantic, all in a game where he hardly smiles. This is a masterful performance, one that could be applauded without any visuals. Seriously, go find a YouTube video of the dialogue, alt-tab out of the page, and just listen. He’s deceptively good. Upon first listen, he might sound a lot like any other gravelly tough guy, but his performance is both subtle and nuanced, bringing to life the character of Geralt perfectly. A couple honorable mentions include both Davey Wreden for his performance as the narrator in ‘The Beginner’s Guide’ and literally everyone in ‘Huniepop’ for somehow taking their roles seriously.

 

9) I Need Friends?!?!: The Advent of Multiplayer-Only:

One of the more interesting trends of 2015 was the advent of multiplayer-only AAA games. As the year went on, we saw more and more of these games, especially with ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ and ‘Rainbow Six Siege’. The interesting question is, are these games necessarily bad values compared to earlier? Is doing away with the pretense of singleplayer in order to provide a multiplayer experience a bad thing?

I suppose the answer is sometimes. We’ve seen both good and bad examples of multiplayer-only. On one end of the spectrum, there’s ‘Rainbox Six Siege’. By all accounts, the game is a success, with nuanced and engrossing combat that offers one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year. Would it still be a great experience if it contained a singleplayer campaign? Maybe, but not only does cutting it deflate the budget, making profitability easier to attain, but it also allows the developer to wholly focus on the development of multiplayer balance. Suffice it to say that the game is quite worth the sixty dollars it asks for, even if it does lack the traditionally expected singleplayer.

On the other end of the spectrum is ‘Evolve’ and ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’. Both of these games suffered from the same exact problem; for a game with only multiplayer, there’s very little content. In fact, both games have about as much multiplayer content as a game with singleplayer does. In both cases, it seems as if the publisher or developer decided that since it was ‘multiplayer-only’ they could simply develop a game like normal, minus the singleplayer. By doing so, however, they missed the whole point of cutting out singleplayer. By doing so, the idea was to enrich the multiplayer, spending more time on it and adding tons of content. Instead, these developer/publishers decided it was a free pass to add less content and that’s the inherent problem with multiplayer-only.

The format is completely fine if used properly. Unfortunately, for every developer that uses it to pad the multiplayer with extra content, there will be one that uses it as an excuse to cut development times and expenses. It’s a lot like the free to play business model, or the use of microtransactions. They can be used correctly, and many companies do so, but they can be abused quite easily. Like with any game, proceed with caution when it comes to multiplayer-only games, but also know that they can be brilliant fun.

 

10) Alpha Architect: How Prison Architect Succeeded in Early Access:

Prison Architect

Early Access is one of the most abused systems of Steam, which is saying a lot, considering Greenlight and the publisher double standard thing exists. That being said, there are success stories on the system. Most notably, Prison Architect, a game that helped lead Introversion Software back from the brink of financial disaster. This game basically brought them back from the edge, and in the process, released one of the best simulation games since SimCity. If that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is. But how did they do it, that’s the interesting question.

The answer is quite simple, they had a laid out and detailed plan for development, and they stuck to it. From the beginning, they laid out exactly what they hoped to accomplish, and each update, the Alpha slowly integrated new systems. This might not seem that hard, but it’s shocking to see just how many developers either don’t have a plan, or simply fail to follow the one they laid out in the first place. In addition, the updates were timely and fairly regular, another hurdle many Early Access games fail to have. All of these help combine to not only build trust between the consumer and developer, but also help feed into the other thing they did well.

Namely, they took feedback and implemented it well. Listening to people may seem like a very easy task, but in reality, it’s a fine line between pandering and ignoring the requests of consumers. Inversion did a spectacular job in keeping in mind the feedback of the consumer, while also understanding that there was a long term vision that they had in mind, and sometimes that vision was more important than the whims of the consumer. By balancing these two, ‘Prison Architect’ became one of the few success stories on Early Access, a fact that should be applauded quite readily. If you’re a developer making an Early Access game, this is the one to look to for guidance on how to do it right.

 

11) I Can Fix It… For A Price: Mods and the Idea of Paying for Them:

Paid Mods almost happened this year. That is, until Steam immediately chickened out after massive backlash. The idea itself is an interesting one, to say the least. Should mods get paid for their work? And, if so, do the publishers/developers get a percentage, considering it is content dependent upon the base game. Most importantly, however, is should the consumer have to pay for mods, assuming they’ve bought the base game? All of these are major factors to take into consideration when evaluating an idea such as this.

All of that being said, I find it quite odd that people oppose the concept. Sure, a lot of the great mods that are available right now would become locked behind a pay wall, but in turn, this would be a major positive to the modding community. Remember how mods, especially some of the amazingly complex overhauls offered for Skyrim, take hours upon hours to complete? Well, with the actual mods costing money, a small amount but still something, it would incentivize a lot more creators.  Think of how many skilled people would find the idea of putting lots of time into creating unique and exciting mods if there was money in doing so.

Not only that, but imagine how many companies would be eager to have a modding tool for their game. Assuming they got a cut, as drawn up in the original plan, this is a development that would lead to modder-friendly tools being made readily available for most games. Paying for mods might seem like a bummer, though it’s quite similar to buying DLC in some cases, but the reality is that paying for these mods can only be a good thing. Not only would it foster more talented modders, but it would also make modding easier to do with studios offering assistance. Again, that’s not to say this system can’t be abused, mods that aren’t more than basic tweaks should be excluded from such a system, but if used right it could help grow the modding community quite a bit.

 

12) EA and Friends: Other companies that screwed up not named Konami:

Remember when EA were a great company? When it seemed to release instant classics at every turn? When it seemed to stand for the gamer? Yea, those were the days, huh. Now, all we can do is sit and groan as we watch them buy talented studios, force those studios to make mediocre games, and then close down those studios for making mediocre games. It’s sad to watch. That being said, we have to recognize the companies that made us go ‘Wow, really?’.

EA

The list is named after them, for god’s sake! It’s impossible not to include EA on a list of terrible companies in gaming anymore, as they simply continually screw up. That being said, they actually were relatively quiet this year, their mistakes rather persistent, unlike past years when they were abrupt. While it might seem like they’ve been good, EA has had its fair share of issues, just less than usual. Origin is still a consistently bad service, with constant downtimes and crashes hindering the ability to play online-only games. Both major releases of this year’s ‘Hardline’ and ‘Battlefront’ were both lacking in content, especially the latter, and were overall in bad states at launch. Oh, and they’re still killing off studios, this time it was Maxis, a tragic one to say the least. No, they’ve not been bad, but I need to see another year of good intentions before removing them from this list.

Warner Brothers

‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ was released in such a bad state that it took several months to try and fix it, and even after all that time, they essentially admitted that the game is likely not fixable. Congratulations to them for showing Steam why refunds are so important. Hopefully, Warner Brothers finds a rock to crawl under, and they fuck off for eternity.

Valve

BRING ON THE HATE I CAN TAKE IT! No, seriously, Valve was awful this year, which is so sad, as Steam is still such a good service even with all the problems they seem to add to it. Do I even need to list the problems? Early Access, Greenlight, the security compromises, the fact that I spent a month waiting for them to unlock my account, the list goes on. Valve needs to show a better commitment to its customers, while refunds were a step in the right direction, there needs to be a lot more. Just let me love you, Valve, please!

 

13) #FuckKonami: Remembering all the nonsense Konami pulled this Year:

Kojima made the game ‘Metal Gear Solid V’, which was published by Konami. That seemed to be an illegal statement for the longest time, with Konami removing all trace of Hideo Kojima from his own game, as well as refusing to discuss why. I’m not entirely sure what the logic was, as it actually brought far more attention to the man than normal. If they had simply fired him, their might have been a bit of an uproar, but it would have dissipated rather quickly. Instead, they spent weeks ignoring him, then stated he ‘was on vacation’ after a video emerged of a goodbye party, then they finally were outed when Kojima was officially gone and had started his own studio. Quite odd, to say the least, though I doubt we’ll never know the full story.

Anyway, that’s not why they got an entire section to themselves. No, they get this section as they are somehow the worst company in recent memory by a country mile. Whether it be turning beloved franchises into Pachinko machines, using false screenshots for PES 2016, or simply cancelling ‘Silent Hills’ and ‘P.T’. There was nothing redeemable about their actions this year, honestly. Sometimes, they just made little sense, both financially and morally. Most of the time, they were cheap attempts to try and earn money dishonestly, which seems to be a growing theme among them. Either way, this was a stupid, stupid year for them. I don’t know how they can top it in 2016, but I put nothing past them. Remember, as Jim Fucking Sterling Son always preaches, #FuckKonami

 

14) A Glimmer of Hope: Promising Changes in the Industry:

Yes, a good majority of this was negative or simply pointing out the bad in the industry. No, this was not a bad year for gaming. In fact, there were quite a few good things that happened this year, and I’m glad to have started covering games in this year. I won’t be going through each development like the other sections, I think good developments are hard to discuss, instead I’ll just be going through the trends of the year that infused me with the most hope for the future, especially 2016.

Refunds on Steam, would be the biggest one. This seems like the first sign that Valve were going to try and help the consumer more, along with moves like Steam Curators and Reviews. No, it’s not enough to redeem Valve for the debacle of a year they’ve had, but I get the sense that they’re heading in the right direction finally, and that’s some great news. KickStarter and Early Access games delivering is always good, both lead to more trust from consumers, something vital to a healthy market in the games industry. Growth in the viewership for competitive gaming is also good to hear, even if I’m not a fan of the genre it still spreads awareness of modern gaming to those who aren’t aware of it. Oh, and just the generally good fiscal year for most companies, specifically ones that didn’t publish ‘Assassin’s Creed’. It’s always good to see growth in the industry.

I’d like to say this, I suppose. The media in all facets tend to focus on the negative, with the most successful stories generally being those reporting the tragic, bad or simply disgusting portions of life. A lot of the time, this is simply pandering to the views. However, I like to report and focus on the negative for one reason; with the hope that it brings out a positive. There’s nothing like a brutal shellacking from the media, fueled by its viewership, that helps bring about change, and I think that’s what all this is about. Even if it means focusing on the negative, my goal is to bring change in the industry, and looking at some of the great things that have happened this year, it’s a great feeling.

 

15) Thank You:

Listen, I’d like to first thank anyone who read all 6000 plus words. This was an absolute pain to write, but I wanted something quite fitting to end the year with, even if it’s going out in 2016. That being said, I am quite done writing anything north of 3000 words until the end of 2016, so for those who saw the length and immediately left, I understand.

Anyways, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our readership. Without people reading and discussing and sharing these stories and articles and reviews, these words would be as meaningless. To be read by people you don’t know, who comment, even if it’s harsh, is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I’d also like to thank all the contributors at this site, they all pour their hearts into their work, and it’s an honor to work alongside them. I’d also like to specifically thank Kane and Daniel Choppen, both wonderful people that help organize and keep everyone on track. I can honestly say that the website would be a lot worse off without them. Finally, I’d like to thank Stephen , who owns the site, for bringing together such a great group of people and pouring his everything into making this site all it can be. Every time I look at what he does, I can’t help but wonder how screwed this site would be if I were in charge of maintaining it.

That’s all the sentimental nonsense I have left in me. I’ll make sure to be extra mean in this week’s 5 Points in order to balance out all the niceties at the end here. I hope everyone who reads this has a great 2016, and I look forward to the next year in gaming. Remember, no matter how bad it gets for you, you can’t screw up worse than Konami. Thanks for your continued readership from all of us here at Gaming Respawn.

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